Monday, 19 December 2016
FANTASY REVIEW: THE EMPRESS GAME - CLOAK OF WAR BY RHONDA MASON
The Empress Game by Rhonda Mason
This is the second in the Empress Game trilogy that set up Kayla Reinumon as a serious heroine who is caught up in the politics of the Sakien Empire and the Empress Game Tournament. Thankfully, the tournament is over, but for Kayla, her mission has only just started. If she wants to free the people from occupation and slavery, she must do the ultimate thing - continue working undercover after her win at the tournament.
Kayla was a Wyrd, a member of an advanced race of Psionics, a ro-haar who was part of a bonded pair which were well trained in the martial arts - her other half being Vayne, they made quite a team as he had her back as much as she had his. Now that her powers have gone, she feels she is just a Wyrd and now that Vayne has left for sanctuary elsewhere with their younger brother, Corinth, she had not reason for being a ro-haar.
As Kayla's enemy, Sino already knows she isn't the princess and wants her to bring back Vayne and unite them with the neurobiological engineer, Dolan as he is also a Wyrd. If Kayla doesn't do what is asked of her, he is prepared to reveal that she isn't the princess and cheated at the Empress Game - she has no alternative but to comply with his wishes. At the same time, Sino has something she wants she never expected was to be bargained for.
Kayla ponders how Bredard and Sino could have found out, realising there must be an enemy spy on the inside. Kayla wonders whether she will see Vayne again and her feelings for Malkor are hurting inside her in his absence.
Rhonda gives us a brief recap of the previous novel and what had happened and all she had accomplished; She had acted as a stand-in for the real princess at the Empress Game, winning the title of Empress Apparent, became a part of the council and released as many prisoners as she could - all until another combatant could be found who was better then her. Personally, I don't think she could have done any more as she is such a gutsy fighter who defies the odds when she could have given in, and comes right back fighting. Another thought is that she could have let someone else take part, but her inner need for justice made her life hard, yet as she has done so much for the people of the Sakien Empire, others want to see her dead. The Empress Game is a sci-fi/fantasy story with a strong female lead character and other equally strong ones who enable Kayla to infiltrate and do her best job of winning - what happens from now is up to her.
Court intrigue and danger at every turn make Rhonda's second in the Empress Game trilogy a must-read all the way though.