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…
When he refuses to follow the Party line, Léo Martin is forced out of Government, and banished back to his old place of study.
Claire is the first woman to become Magister at Montverre, and fears the new Government reforms will punish anyone of differing faiths or gender.
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The narrative is split between a few characters/timelines.
Léo was the Minister of Culture, but when he voices opposition to the new rules that will make it impossible for Christians to hold jobs, etc; his party force him out, sending him in exile to Montverre. It follows him as he views his old home as a prison, full of discomforts, after his rich life in Paris.
The narrative also follows Léo as a young man, in his second year at Montverre. He is friendly with most of his fellow students, except for Carfax - a brilliant, but vastly disliked young man. The two of them are forced to work together by the Magisters, and find a certain understanding.
Claire is the first woman Magister. She is highly suspicious of Léo - his appearance at a time when the Government is bringing in strict new laws, it seems like they're putting a spy/enforcer in Montverre.
There is also the character of Rat... a girl who thinks she's a rat...
This book wasn't for me, which was unfortunate, as I loved The Binding by this author. I know that book started off slow and ended up being a surprising and exciting ride. This may be the same, but I struggled to stay invested.
The beginning is very slow, and all of it is focussed on the Grand Jeu. The actual "Grand Jeu" is danced around. It's explained as a combination of Maths, Music, Dance, Language, Science; but it is never described outright.
The way it is described made it feel like I was on shifting sands, with hints and words that just jarred and made it hard to connect.