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The Prize in the Game (Sulien) Mass Market Paperback – May 4, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Tir Tanagiri Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Out of the Celtic twilight, that gold mine of romance lore for contemporary fantasists, comes Walton's retelling of the wooing of Emer, set in the same world as her first two novels, The King's Peace and The King's Name. This story, an expansion of a passage in The King's Peace, follows a group of noble-born youngsters on the cusp of adult warriorhood, their relationships as intertwined as a Celtic knot, in a brawling, bloodthirsty culture where gods stoop to speak with men. Just as one form shifts to another in Celtic art, Walton constantly shifts the point of view as she traces the early careers of beautiful Elenn and Emer, her younger charioteer sister, princesses of Connat being fostered in Oriel for a year; sardonic Conal; the wild dream-ridden Darag; and gentle Ferdia of Lagin, who loves Darag to his own destruction. When a horrible accident causes the death of a warhorse and in revenge the Beastmother goddess Rhiannon curses Oriel, political alliances shatter and reform among these distrustful kingdoms. It seems that Celts, male and female alike, would rather fight than eat. Walton sure-handedly evokes a primitive realm where the Otherworld seamlessly impinges upon reality, bringing sounds, smells, sorrow, hatred and burning love to life as powerfully as the thrust of a barbed spear. She also captures the terrible beauty of a warrior race in an outworn time, struggling, in Yeats's phrase, to come clear of the eternal nets of wrong and right.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the Ireland of Walton's alternate world, four young peoples' lives are torn apart and their homelands threatened with fratricidal destruction after a goddess is accidentally offended. As Walton develops her alternate Celts, however, what with their convoluted politics and quick tempers, it sometimes seems that the miffed deity is superfluous. The feuds of local potentates are quite capable of generating all the havoc any novel could need to keep readers turning pages. As with previous Walton novels, readers will indeed do just that, especially the intelligent sort of Celtophiles who respect authors with something under their Celts. Moreover, it seems likely that this book will have at least one sequel, for the number of corpses left unavenged by the last page provide all the motivation the rest of the characters need to keep their swords sharp and employed for a good long while. A readable sidebar to Walton's Arthurian variations, The King's Peace (2000) and The King's Name (2001). Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Sulien (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (May 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765346702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765346704
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,746,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Prize in the Game is a short novel that takes place in the world of Walton's The King's Peace and The King's Name. It gives a little history on a few of the characters, and takes place before the other two books, with events in this one leading up to the characters' entrances in The King's Peace. It's a wonderfully done piece, with not a word wasted.
At 253 pages, it is certainly a quick read, but there is so much packed into it that it feels like a longer book. Walton writes a lean and mean novel that doesn't use any extraneous language or plots. The book is about Emer and Conal, but it is also about Elenn and how she compares to her sister, Emer. It's about friendship, love, and honour, and the power that all three have over the life we live. How Walton manages to package all of this together in such a small package, I have no idea.
Emer and Conal's love story is a sight to behold. They both start out the book very young, with not much idea of what their future holds. Emer is sixteen, and really too young to be considered an adult, but she takes arms just like her slightly older companions do. Conal starts out the book talking about how beautiful Elenn is, but you quickly realize that he has no feelings for her whatsoever. When he stumbles across Emer (relatively plain compared to Elenn), he finds that he has discovered the love of his life. When both take up arms, Emer wants nothing more than to be Conal's charioteer and wife. When Walton writes these two, they just spring off the page. You feel their pain when they realize the many obstacles in their path, both from her mother and from the circumstances around them. They are well-rounded characters who are very interesting as well.
The second story has to do with Elenn.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I like the concept of an alternate world where there is some magic, I found this story bleak, but the characters not as engrossing as others in the genre. I enjoyed reading it, but did not feel excited about reading the next one in the series. I have enjoyed Walton's other works much better - she is certainly not predictable in terms of specific genre or characterisation.
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Format: Hardcover
The story has several lead characters (Conal, Emer, Elenn, Darag, Ferdia, and more), as well as quite a few secondary ones. However, once the reader gets into the story, knows everyone, and the plot comes into focus, the story zeros in on Conal and Emer.
Conal, Darag, and Ferdia are rivals for the High Kingship. Emer becomes Conal's charioteer. On a favorable day, they "take up arms" and complete a ritual marking them as adults in the eyes of their countries. Conal and Emer fall in love. They dream of running off together, but honor and duty hold them tightly.
When a friendly competition leads to the death of a horse, the Horse Goddess sets a curse upon the island of Tir Isarnagiri. Of course, politics and betrayals must follow.
**** This is a well written story that slowly weaves its way into several complex situations. The more I ready, the more I became enthralled with the characters, plots, and sub-plots. Bravo, Jo Walton! Recommended! ****
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm on a mission to read all of her books after reading _Among Others_ and _What Makes This Book So Great_. I wasn't impressed by her first book, but this one is truly excellent. I was reminded of _Sailing to Sarantium_ (high praise indeed). The best moment was when she had the characters blithely describe the past two months which were the best times of their(young) lives. Walton unconcernedly skips over this because she has better stuff to tell. Again, worth reading!
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