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July 14th, 2016

That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

What a well written, lovely little story. (Unfortunately too short to count as a book, so doesn't get a number for the year.) Available online for free at the publisher's website (link above).

The story is set in a fictional nation, one at the end of a decades long war. One race of people are telepaths, the other are not. (The telepaths can read the minds of anyone, including the non-telepaths. All thoughts/feelings/internal reactions are completely and effortlessly transparent to them.) That made things like spying tricky, since the non-telepaths had to figure out other ways to do it. Also, POW camps were worse for the telepaths, even when it was their camp, because they'd feel and experience the non-telepaths' stress, pain, suffering, unhappiness, etc.

All that was setup and background though, the story focused on a non-telepath nurse and the telepath officer she had cared for. Their history together was complex; first he was a POW of her people, under her care (telepath POWs were kept drugged to control their powers), then sometime later she became a POW in a camp he ran. Though on opposite sides of the war, and with that figurative minefield between them, the two still cared for each other and friendship was growing.

While the two were brought together by a game (chess), the title can certainly be taken as not-literal, too. This story was just a really interesting, well-handled story of how cultures can clash, war, and smaller interpersonal interactions. The author's races were completely believable, and I loved everything about this quiet story.

While I'd like to read more by this author, it appears she's only written one (long) book series, and it's not really to my taste. Urban supernatural stuff, with what appears to be an undercurrent of romance.

Currently reading: For Real by Alexis Hall. A toe curlingly good M/M BDSM book.

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