I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have said it before in my review of Never Die and I will say it again if you didn’t hear me the first time, Rob Hayes is the pinnacle of how a self-published author can achieve great success and notoriety. He keeps putting out novel after novel with each one being better than the last as he gains more experience to go along with the great talent he already possesses. Pawn’s Gambit is the “not” sequel to Never Die but it takes place in the same world of Hosa. You do not need to have read Never Die in order to enjoy and understand this novel, but there are crossovers from Never Die to will give readers the slightest of nods and a fantastic set up for book 3. Since this is a standalone novel, there will be no risk of spoilers in this review.
The gods are at each others throats as a contest has been launched for control over the pantheon. Each of the gods has to sacrifice something of value in the contest and select a champion. It is the champions job to search the land and discover these hidden artifacts in order to provide their god sponsor the chance to become the next ruler of the gods. The plot seems simple and even along the lines of a hide and seek game, but the characters and progression of the story will keep you coming back for more. In Pawn’s Gambit we follow the journey of Yuu, a world renowned strategist and general, wanted for the betrayal and murder of the prince. When Yuu, who is in hiding, is approached by one of the goddess’ to embark on this search she is quick to turn her aside until the goddess promises to return the one thing she values the most. Then the journey begins across the land of Hosa.
Along the way, Yuu will encounter other characters whom will help in her endeavor to gain as many artifacts as she can. Rumors are swirling that another champion of the gods is hunting down the champions and stealing the artifacts for themselves. Yuu will have to keep up her guard in order save herself the goal she has agreed to take on. Yuu is the shining character in Pawn’s Gambit as she has the reputation of seeing the whole battlefield and has been known to sacrifice armies of soldiers in order to achieve a winning position on the field. She is smart, cunning, and has the ability to pivot on the spot when the unexpected comes to fruition. Yuu’s journey has plenty of twists and turns along the way and her arc progresses nicely for the set up to book 3.
One other great addition to Pawn’s Gambit is the explanation of the different types of mortal techniques characters have and how they are introduced to the world. There are three different types of techniques: Those that you are born with, those that can be learned from a young age with practice, and those that are granted spontaneously through gifts from the gods. Yuu has a mortal technique and she uses it sparingly when planning her strategies for the upcoming battles. Two of these techniques lead to a fantastic battle around the half way point and the endless possibilities of what can be introduced for future novels has me giddy with excitement. Yuu may want things to return to the way they were when she was the right hand man, to the prince, but she has now become a pawn in the greater game of the gods. Yuu will come to know that even a pawn can checkmate a king, or in this case a god.
If you have not read Never Die yet or anything by Rob Hayes, then I don’t know what you are waiting for. Every time I pick up on of his books, I am blown away with the imagination and love Rob Hayes has for his characters and work. Don’t let another second pass without giving Rob Hayes a read and I promise that you will be glad you did!