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“Italian novelist Maurensig spins an intriguing historical narrative of Indian chess master Malik Mir Sultan Khan (1903–1966)...Maurensig’s tragic tale of genius and destiny duly salvages a forgotten hero.” —Publishers Weekly
In 1930s British India, a humble servant learns the art of chaturanga, the ancient Eastern ancestor of chess. His natural talent soon catches the attention of the maharaja, who introduces him to the Western version of the game. Brought to England as the prince’s pawn, Malik becomes a chess legend, winning the world championship and humiliating the British colonialists. His skills as a refined strategist eventually drag him into a strange game of warfare with far-reaching consequences. Inspired by the unlikely true story of chess master Malik Mir Sultan Khan, Game of the Gods is a fascinating tale of karma and destiny, by the author of the multimillion-copy bestseller The Lüneburg Variation.
Italian novelist Maurensig (A Devil Comes to Town) spins an intriguing historical narrative of Indian chess master Malik Mir Sultan Khan (1903 1966). When Normal la Motta, a journalist covering the impending war between India and Pakistan in 1965, learns his childhood idol, Sultan Khan, lives nearby, la Motta tracks him down, eager to learn the truth about a scandal involving Khan's marriage to the wealthy American widow Cecilia Abbott. The ensuing story, narrated by Sultan Khan, recounts his life from childhood in an early 20th-century village stalked by a demonic tiger that killed his parents, to his tutelage under a wealthy landowner who leads him on a circuit through England's top chess competitions in his early 20s. Eventually, his career languishes, hobbled by racism and bigotry. By the 1950s, he lands as a taxi driver in New York City and becomes the servant, spiritual companion, and eventually husband of Cecilia, an elderly heiress to a steel magnate whose death and subsequent bestowal of all her wealth upon Sultan Khan casts the remainder of his life under scrutiny. The story sputters a bit in the latter half, particularly with Sultan Khan's bizarre rant from a psychiatric ward. Still, Maurensig's tragic tale of genius and destiny duly salvages a forgotten hero.