Book Reviews contain spoilers!
The End of the Game is actually a trilogy by Sherri S. Tepper. It tells the story of Jinian from the time she is nine until she is in her late teens or early twenties.
The land of the True Game is a place of loose government and changing alliances where people have Talents. Some can fly, some can move objects, some can see the future. Many of the people use these talents for Games, which are nothing more than battles of some kind perpetuated for the sake of gaining power and prestige.
We begin with Jinian as an unloved child of Stoneflight Demesne. She is tortured by her older brother until she decides she’s no longer going to allow herself to be afraid. It is then that one of the Pawns realizes Jinian is a Wize-ard, someone who can learn magic. Thus begins Jinian’s initiation into the world of the True Game.
Jinian’s adventures don’t end there. Her brother betroths her to a man she’s never met, one who has a living wife, to form an alliance. However, Jinian uses her age to bargain for schooling in the distant town of Xammer. On the way, she is kidnapped and held as part of Game, but she escapes and makes her way to Chimmerdong Forest. She befriends the forest, and it asks for her help. It is while helping the forest that Jinian learns her first real lesson – there are tasks for each of us, and no one is going to do them for us. We can’t sit around whining and crying and waiting for someone to come along and rescue us from life. We have to live it.
Jinian’s adventures continue through three short books. She is the only one who understands the significance of the yellow death crystals, and she’s the first to convince others to help her save their world. She is taught by Ganver, one of the old ones, and learns the meaning of the Star-Eye, a lesson that most never learn.
I first read Dervish Daughter, the middle book of the trilogy, as a teenager. I loved the story, but it was several years before I was able to get the complete set. I wasn’t disappointed.
Even as a young adult, the lessons of Ganver spoke to me, particularly his repetition of ‘watch and learn’. I won’t go into detail here because I think knowing what the lessons are in advance would take away any meaning a new reader would draw from them. I will say, however, that what Ganver taught Jinian makes a lot of sense.
Overall, I love the trilogy. Some of the names are a bit weird, and this has thrown off some I’ve recommended the books to, but they fit the world, one of magic with odd bits of technology thrown in here and there. The characters are loveable, and the story moves along at a decent pace.