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The Betrayals by Bridget Collins


The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
UK Publication Date: 12th November 2020
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Harper Collins UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Welcome to the Grand Jeu…let the games begin.

Synopsis from Goodreads: If everything in your life was based on a lie
Would you risk it all to tell the truth?

At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.

Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.

Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…

My Thoughts: After reading the afterword I now feel the need to read The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse as Collins credits this as a big influence on her writing of this book. It doesn’t hurt that it is also on the 1001 book list so I will need to read it at some point anyway.

The beauty and the frustrating nature of this book come from the same place and that is the fact that I have no idea what the Grand Jeu is actually supposed to be. It is a game but more than a game, there appears to be a life sized chess board involved but no pieces instead the “players” must blend music, maths and gestures to reach God or at least spirituality.

While I may not understand the book I can appreciate the beautiful writing. I was transported to another world while I read this and I would love to see a “game” bought to life. I enjoyed watching how the characters developed from their school days to their adult personas, I appreciated the subtle romance and the way people’s actions can be seen in shades of grey rather than black and white and it was interesting to get a glimpse of the role of women in this elite world.

While I enjoyed the time spent a Montverre I would love to know what is actually going on in the world outside. What are the politicians trying to achieve and why religion itself is coming under fire? What is the party and how did they come to power?

For me this book feels incomplete for the story to end properly as a reader I need to see the outside world and to understand the place of the Grand Jeu and the scholars within that world.

Who would like this? Any reader looking to escape 2020 could do worse than escaping to Montverre. Also look at that cover…it is a thing of beauty.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Did you understand the book? Do you think there will be a sequel?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for the review. I recall the rave reviews of Th Binding, and when I read it I felt I’d been mislead about the content. So I certainly won’t buy this one but my local library may get it (eventually). In regard to Le Gran Jeu, I do know of a Tarot spread of the same name, its gigantic, uses the entire 78 card deck, and was devised – so far as I know – by the infamous Aleister Crowley.


    November 14, 2020
  2. Remedial Stitcher #

    This is intriguing, and I may have to read it. I read The Glass Bead Game years and years ago (my 20s?) when I was in a phase of reading German writers such as Hesse, Grass, Kafka, and Mann. I think I’ll have to read that one again.


    November 14, 2020

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