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Pawn's Gambit: a standalone Mortal Techniques novel (The Mortal Techniques) Kindle Edition
Once a renowned strategist and general, five years ago Yuu made a mistake that cost her everything. Now she is on the run, royal bounty hunters snapping at her heels. But what if there was a way to get back what she lost, a way to bring back a murdered prince?
Every century, the gods hold a contest to choose who will rule from the Heavenly Jade Throne. Each god chooses a mortal champion, and the fate of all existence hangs in the balance. On a battlefield full of heroes, warriors, assassins, and thieves can Yuu survive long enough to learn the rules of the game, let alone master it?
Pawn's Gambit is a stand alone story set in the award-winning Mortal Techniques universe. It's a wuxia adventure filled with heroes, gods, spirits, and magic.
"Great fun!" - Jennie Moore, Amazon reviewer
"I didn't expect the book to hit me like it did. Beautiful build up and amazing story." - Kyle Batra, Amazon reviewer
"This book is awesome." - Ahuri3, Amazon reviewer
"I devoured this book in 2 or 3 sittings - it was that good." - Miriam Michalak, Amazon reviewer.
- ASIN : B08LZKPWPQ
- Publication date : January 26, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 3296 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 354 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #49,848 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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I enjoyed Rob J. Hayes’ first installment of Mortal Techniques, Never Die. It was a fun and entertaining wild romp through the world he’s created. Hayes has returned to the universe of Mortal Techniques and has far surpassed himself. The story is deeper and more complex. The characterizations are done with more depth and it features a protagonist that is relatable and memorable.
Yuu’s story is a redemption arc that provides an opportunity for a lot of great character growth. Hayes delivers in spades with Yuu. She has a long way to go to shed five years of drinking away the memories that haunt her. Of fleeing the royal house that set a price on her head, and suffering a lack of purpose while she has attempted to evade her past.
Yuu has cast aside her mask as The Art of War. A master strategist, she now plays chess against any comers for the coin to buy wine and drown her sorrows. She wanders Hosa as a vagrant while avoiding those who seek the bounty on her head. Until she is approached by a Goddess and challenged to a game of chess that will decide both their fates and the fate of mankind as well.
The relationship that develops between the two, is heartwarming, although Natsuko is irascible and Yuu is stubborn as a mule. Their first companion is Li Bang, a rather simple seeming fellow that Yuu hires as muscle. As snarky as Natsuko is, calling him Lump, she cares enough to spare him as a sacrifice in Yuu’s long game. One she must play to win.
Natsuko, is the goddess of lost things and missed opportunities. She and her twin brother *Fuyuko have set a plan into motion to take the throne of heaven from the god of war, Batu. She has pinned her hopes on Yuu, The Art of War.
Batu has kept the realms of Hosa, Ipia, Cochtran, and Nash in the chaos of war for a century. Every one hundred years, the gods can challenge the king for the throne in Tianmen and Natsuko intends to end the reign of bloodshed. Thirty five gods come forward, their champions chosen, their artefact for the contest, a most precious possession, laid at the base of the Jade throne. Batu scatters the artefacts across the land and the champions must acquire them before the next moon cycle. The one with the most artefacts at the end, no matter how they came to have them, whether by skill, strength, or even murder, will win the chance to challenge Batu for his throne.
The colorful side characters make this story rather unforgettable, as does a mob run by monks, an assassin more machine than man, and Gods of every description all vie for the coveted position of Tianjun, emperor of the Gods.
There is a strong vein of strategy within Pawn’s Gambit, in the allegory of chess, and it is woven deeply into Yuu’s persona. A childhood of training at the hands of her grandmother, the first Art of War, that was begun with the game of chess. Can Yuu overcome her self crippling doubt and sober up to meet the challenge? Or will she perish, along with Natsuko’s hopes and dreams? Yuu is not the only one to grow and change, her companions must do so as well.
Present in this fast paced tale, is a deep look into how people are motivated, how lives are shaped by innate talents or the lack of them, the devastation of wars on generations and how, using her skill set, Yuu is able to look at each challenge from every angle and find a strategy for the weaker, smaller and downtrodden to triumph above overwhelming odds. The monsters in this installment are not spirits, but the worst and deadliest of both humans and Gods alike. There is value in each person, whether seen or unseen, which can make them heroes in the truest sense. Not for glory, but for what is right, and can possibly save humanity from destruction.
Pawn’s Gambit is a well crafted, and well rounded stand alone book. It possesses an emotional hook and sympathetic players which explore the basics of the human condition. A depth that some readers didn’t find in Never Die is more than made up for in this installment.
Yuu, once a famous strategist, has found her niche in life - playing chess with old men and drinking herself into a stupor. Formerly known as "The Art of War," she led armies and won battles until her mistake cost her ruler his life. She doesn't seek redemption, just another bottle of wine.
Unfortunately, it can't stay that way, not when the gods play their games with mortal pawns. Natsuko, the goddess of missed opportunities, needs Yuu to checkmate Batu, the god of war, and rise to power. Once a century, the gods hold a contest to choose a new ruler. Each god chooses a mortal champion, and the fate of heaven and earth depends on the winner.
Rob J. Hayes has packed Pawn's Gambit with action and adventure, and even the quieter moments are intense. The sharp and direct writing style makes it easy to follow and enjoy the story. Even though Pawn's Gambit rehashes familiar tropes (quest for powerful artifacts, redemption story), Hayes' confident narration makes it fresh and interesting. He also twists them in a most exciting way.
Hayes does a lot of things right in Pawn's Gambit. The first is characterization. Yuu and Natsuko have unique perspectives (Yuu human, Natsuko inhuman) and personalities. Their interactions drive the story forward and make it so fascinating to follow. Natsuko toys with mortals, but she respects them. She loves walking through the mortal plane as an old woman because she finds it liberating to be the curmudgeon. As a strategist, Yuu has learned to remain cold and think of troops as numbers rather than individual lives. She knows she shouldn't consider the consequences of her actions because the end justifies the means, but she doesn't quite succeed. I found her more introspective moments insightful and engaging.
Secondary characters have whimsical names (The Ticking Clock, Laws of Hope, etc.) and possess a variety of supernatural abilities that make their encounters explosive and intense. Expect lots of blazing action, cool magic, breakneck pacing, and relatable and well-developed characters doing what they have to to survive.
The combination of an engaging plot, excellent pacing, good dialogue, fleshed-out characters, and economy of language enhances the reading experience. Pawn's Gambit is gripping and fun, and I'm sure it'll keep most readers glued to the pages.
Top reviews from other countries
The 'magic system' is based around techniques learned through training or in some cases inherited, elevating mere mortals to heroes who roam the world fighting and gaining notoriety. This story follows The Art of War, a master strategist who with the help of a god embarks on a quest to overthrow the god of war and set right past wrongs.
What follows is a very intelligent and well thought out story with clever plot twists and fulfilling payoffs. The action is exciting, the heroes are awesome, and although not a comedy as such, contains dialogue completely in tune with my sense of humour.
I can't wait for the next book and really really hope this series continues beyond book three.
A solid five stars from me.
Set roughly five years after the previous book, this one follows former strategist and general Daiyu Lingson, also known as The Art of War but now going by the name of Yuu, as she tries to escape her past and drown the pain of her memories in as much cheap wine as she can get her hands on. Unfortunately for Yuu, she has been chosen by Natsuko, the Ipian goddess of missed opportunities and lost things, to represent her in a once-in-a-century contest to determine which god will rule heaven for the next hundred years.
The main bulk of the narrative has Yuu being led around the countryside in search of a series of mystical artefacts belonging to the various gods. The idea is that the champion who finds the most artefacts wins, though as becomes apparent in the later stages of the novel, there’s always a catch. Along the way, Yuu enlists the aid of would-be hero Li Bang, a clapped out horse called Lump, and the roguish Zuan li Fang, the self-styled Prince of Thieves, to help her deal with the forces arrayed against her.
As with Never Die, the pacing and storytelling in this book are superlative. If anything, Rob Hayes’ writing has just got better in the last couple of years, and while there’s less direct action in this one it still races along nicely. The principal characters are all suitably well-developed and easy to get along with, and the villains and bad guys are suitably villainous and despicable in their own ways.
As already mentioned, Yuu spends most of the book trying to run away from her past, but by the end of the story she’s forced to not only accept who she used to be, but to also embrace her full potential as The Art of War, to take on that persona one last time in order to prevail in the final confrontation against Batu, the god of war himself. In a sense, this is a tale of self-discovery and redemption, and at every step the reader is shown a tiny, subtle glimpse of the road that Yuu must travel down to reach her final destination.
I genuinely enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more of the Mortal Techniques series as it becomes available. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of wuxia and oriental fantasy in general. You don’t need to have read Never Die to appreciate this book, but if you do give this one a try and enjoy it then I seriously advise you to try the other one as well. You won’t be disappointed.
Took everything that Never Die accomplished and ran off screaming down the road with it. Marvellous!
Eagerly awaiting whatever comes next from the world of Mortal Techniques.