Book Tour: The Knave of Secrets by Alex Livingston

Book Tour: The Knave of Secrets by Alex LivingstonThe Knave of Secrets by Alex Livingston

on June 9th 2022
Pages: 400

A twisty tale of card sharps and con artists, in a world of magic where secrets are traded and gambled like coin. The Lies of Locke Lamora meets Casino Royale

Never stake more than you can afford to lose.

When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game—the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets—he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.

Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…

Thank you to The Write Reads and the publisher Rebellion for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

There were two things that interested me in this book: cons and magic. I like heist movies and want to read more books with heists, especially fantasy books. So I knew immediately I had to sign up for this tour.

The Knave of Secrets is an epic fantasy with card tricks, hustles, and intrigue. Valen was a student of magic before he decided to work as a cardsharp. He plays cards for a living. But not just the game. He plays his opponents, marks cards, memorizes cards, and stacks the deck in his favour. And if that fails, he relies on his luck magic to conjure the card he needs at the right time. It has never failed. But that doesn’t mean luck is always on his side. One bad job brought danger to him and his friends.

After the con, the real story starts. Or at least, what I would say is the real story. This is where all the players enter the board, some far away from our main cast. We learn about why the information Valen and co needed to get is so valuable. The jumps between character PoVs come with time jumps too. Not big ones, but you know that when a chapter ends, more has happened than in between. There’s also a lot of exposition about the countries and cultures. Some of it was more useful than other bits. It often felt like information dumping instead of weaving it into the story. This might be a genre thing, but maybe true epic fantasy isn’t for me.

Throughout the story, you feel the stakes rising with mentions of war and thousands of dead. Still, our heroes (are they really heroes) chose the non-violent route, relying on their skills, rather than trying to fight someone much stronger and competent in a physical battle. This ending is more satisfying and fits the characters better than I’d initially expected. Some cons take time and have multiple layers. The authors shows it wonderfully.

I give The Knave of Secrets four stars. The intriguing premise combined with the interesting cast makes for a compelling read. I recommend this to fantasy lovers and people interested in card tricks and cheating in gambling halls.

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