J. Kathleen Cheney
Set in the same world and sequel to The Amestrin Gambit (reviewed here), The Passing of the Pawns tells of further adventures of Ellis, neglected daughter of the King and his possible heir. Her brother is more likely to be the heir, but he has been raised in a foreign land, and there are forces that want either him, Ellis, or others to take up the monarchy when her father is gone.
One of those forces very nearly kills her and tries to lay the blame on Llelas, her martial arts instructor at the military academy and one of her closest friends—despite the scar he left on her face. Llelas is a seer and she leaves him notes that only he can see. They unravel a deep plot against her that goes to the heart of the royal succession.
The mystery of her inattentive, neglectful father is solved, but it does not solve her problem. That problem is how to graduate from a pawn to a queen on life’s chessboard. The implication is that many will sacrifice themselves so she can win.
This is another solid work by Cheney, and she did it to me again. I had just intended to glance at it, and found myself four chapters in. I was going to close the book, and found myself eight chapters in. So when I said to myself, “Just one more chapter,” and found myself on chapter 16, at that point I gave up and finished the book in one sitting.
Yes, it’s that good.
ALSO – I should mention Cheney’s short story collection set in the same world–On Common Ground–is worth reading.