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The Game of Triumphs

The Game of Triumphs

4.3 3
by Laura Powell

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"Tarot comes alive in this cleverly conceived thriller that delivers action, humor, and mystery in spades." —The Bulletin

At an exclusive Soho party one rainy night, Cat stumbles into an ancient and dangerous game of fortune. A mysterious quartet of game masters deal out challenges—moves that unfold in the Arcanum, a dream-scape


"Tarot comes alive in this cleverly conceived thriller that delivers action, humor, and mystery in spades." —The Bulletin

At an exclusive Soho party one rainy night, Cat stumbles into an ancient and dangerous game of fortune. A mysterious quartet of game masters deal out challenges—moves that unfold in the Arcanum, a dream-scape version of our world. Success can earn players fame, fortune, inspiration. Failure can be deadly.

At first Cat is skeptical, but undeniably curious. And when a journey into the Arcanum reveals a shocking glimpse of her family's past, Cat begins to understand what drives people to play. Sometimes it's greed or longing—other times desperation. She must know more.

Right now, the game masters hold all the cards. But Cat finds others like herself on the fringes of the game. And together an unlikely group of chancers hope to change the rules in their favor.

In the Game of Triumphs, the risks are high, but the rewards may just be worth dying for. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Opening with a dramatic chase scene, a murder, and a lavish party where people seem to be risking everything for the chance to win big, Powell promises a high-octane fantasy novel in which 15-year-old Cat is jolted out of her mundane existence into a world of intrigue and danger. Unknown to everyone but the players—knights, knaves, game masters, and fools-The Game has been played throughout the centuries. Based on the tarot, the cards the players draw determine their fates. But unlike most games of chance, this one is for real and, while the right card offers fame, beauty, or fortune, the wrong one can mean a hideous death. The author's writing style is as dark and twisty as the labyrinth her characters navigate through the streets of London and in the alternate universe of Arcanum. Unfortunately, The Game is so complicated and the author devotes so much time to explaining it that the characters and plot get short shrift. While Cat and the aunt with whom she lives are fully developed and sympathetic characters, the other three "fools" who join Cat in her dark adventure aren't well fleshed out. On the other hand, if the occasional missteps in characterization and plotting cause readers some minor confusion, it all just contributes to the mysterious atmosphere of the story.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Publishers Weekly
In this stylish, tarot-based tale, 15-year-old Cat lives with her loving but blunt aunt Bel, a croupier, who has cared for her since her parents' deaths and who frequently reminds her, "you'll always be an orphan... and don't you forget it. People like a bit of tragedy. Adds color." One day while wandering London's Soho, Cat witnesses a possible murder and, when she investigates further, discovers she has entered the complicated and ancient contest of the Arcanum, the Game of Triumphs, as a "chancer," an accidental player represented by the Fool of the tarot deck. Upon visiting the game's alternate universe, Cat learns that her parents were murdered as part of the contest and, with three other chancers who share personal vendettas against the game, she sets out to overthrow it. Debut author Powell's use of the tarot is fascinating, although perhaps unnecessarily complex. Cat, a skeptic and survivor, is nicely differentiated from her fellow questers—starry-eyed Toby, snooty Flora, and mysterious street rat Blaine—though the novel's villainous Kings and Queens don't achieve much depth. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Tarot comes alive in this cleverly conceived thriller that delivers action, humor, and mystery in spades." —The Bulletin

"Page-turning action will leave readers breathless. Original and engrossing; readers will definitely want to play." —Kirkus

Children's Literature - Beverly Melasi
Fifteen-year-old Cat stumbles into the path of a man on the run who begs her to help him. She follows the people who are in pursuit of the man, and ends up at a lavish party, where she is drawn into the mysterious Game of Triumphs with complex rules, dangerous players, and where the penalty for losing can be death. The game draws its players from all walks of life, and is played in an alter-reality known as the Arcanum. Cat doesn't mean to get caught up in the game. But when she discovers that her parent's deaths are intertwined with the Arcanum, she ends up becoming a "chancer" in the game's living fantasy. She meets Toby who she had seen at the party, and through him she learns that the Game of Triumphs isn't just a game, it is a gateway to another dimension. Later she meets Flora and Blaine and together with Toby hope to change the rules in their favor. This book was very interesting. Because the book dabbles in Tarot cards and living fantasy games, I would caution parents, and suggest they perhaps read a few chapters of the book to decide if it is age appropriate for their child. Reviewer: Beverly Melasi

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was his breathing that she noticed first: the hoarse, ragged wheezing of someone who has been running hard. Which was odd, as the crowd hadn't moved more than five paces in the last ten minutes. Two escalators were down at the Piccadilly Circus tube station, and at half past nine on a Friday night, the station was at a rowdy, jostling standstill.

"Oi, mate, shoving won't get you nowhere, all right?" said a woman ahead as they moved another inch toward the foot of the motionless escalator. The man slid his eyes toward Cat, as if in appeal, but she had her London face ready--blank and impenetrable. He was just a nondescript middle-aged guy in a suit, but that didn't mean anything. You met all sorts of nut jobs on the Tube. "Please," he wheezed to no one in particular. "Please." He closed his eyes and she caught the scent of his sweat. Must be claustrophobic, she decided.

At last they shuffled onto the escalator, their pace gaining momentum as people spilled off it toward the ticket barriers. With a whimper of relief, Heavy Breather pushed past her and was gone. She would have soon forgotten him if it hadn't been for a snatch of conversation she overheard a few minutes later. Two men and a woman, in dark clothes, lean and purposeful, had come out of the east exit. "He must have gone this way," said the woman. "It won't take long," said one of her companions. They set off up Regent Street, weaving through the crowds with practiced ease.

They're after that man, Cat thought, and though it was just a hunch, somehow she knew it was true. Perhaps he was a criminal, or perhaps his pursuers were.

It had nothing to do with her.

Cat went down Shaftesbury Avenue, turning left at Great Windmill Street and into Soho. Five minutes later she was letting herself into the flat. It was, as usual, dark and empty, although Bel had left a note on the kitchen table. Bel worked as a croupier at the local casino, which sounded a lot more glamorous than it was. From the kitchen window, Cat could look across the street to the windows of the gaming floor, blacked out so that gamblers would lose track of time. A neon sign fizzed below: Palais Luxe, it said, in acid pink. Palace de Crud, said Bel.

Bel was Cat's mum's sister, though she had never called her Auntie, and certainly not Aunt. She was always just Bel, like the owner of a saloon bar in some corny old Western. She looked the part, too, with her big red mouth and big red hair and a confident swagger. She'd only been nineteen when her elder sister and brother-in-law were killed in a car crash, leaving behind a child of three, but Bel hadn't hesitated. Cat was fifteen now and more Bel's than ever. Theirs was a partnership against the world.

"Mind--you'll always be an orphan," she'd say, squinting at Cat shrewdly, "and don't you forget it. People like a bit of tragedy. Adds color." When Cat was younger, Bel wasn't above improving on this "color." Her eyes would moisten, bosom heave, and she'd be off: "Struck dumb for a whole year afterward, poor mite. Even now, she'll wake screaming in the night--doctors say she'll never get over it. . . ." This was Cat's cue to look frail and interesting. All sorts of useful things followed, from hefty discounts to extra helpings.

Bel wasn't truly feckless, though, just footloose. They'd moved three times in the last five years, much more before that, keeping to small to middling-sized places, where it was possible for Bel to make the most of herself, and for Cat to stay in the background as she preferred. Then Bel met Greg. Greg, who told her he worked in a big London club and had a loft they could rent in the West End. "A third-rate casino, more like," she reported the night she got back from checking it out, "and a tiny Soho flat. But I tell you what, puss-cat, London's a town where anything could happen." Three weeks later they were there.

So perhaps Bel was a romantic; perhaps London was the destination she'd been rehearsing all those other arrivals for. Her big adventure. It might have been the same for Cat. Her eyes were as cool and watchful as Bel's, her mouth just as stubborn. But in London, Cat's self-sufficiency had deserted her. There was just too much, of everything, always shifting and changing, everything for sale or rent or served hot. Even being invisible here was exhausting.

As autumn turned to winter, she headed for the Underground, where she sat tight on the Circle line, going round and round. There was no need to think or move in the endless looping tunnels. It felt like she was keeping the city at bay at last. Tonight it had taken three circuits before she changed lines for home, and that was only because she needed to pee.

Cat scowled at her reflection in the window above the sink. Thin, pale face; ragged black hair. "Nothing but a poor orphan child!" she mocked aloud, using Bel's voice. A poor, starving orphan, she amended.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

LAURA POWELL studied classics before embarking on a career in publishing. She now writes full-time.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Game of Triumphs 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
goshness More than 1 year ago
This book was incredibly original, engrossing, funny, and heart-pounding. I loved the main character and the amazing cast that surrounds her. I highly recommend it.
Icecream18JA More than 1 year ago
The plot of this book is very innovative. The book is centered around The Game, a game where players compete with each other utilizing Tarot cards. The prize is worth what it takes to compete, even when the cost seems very high. A reader who does not know much about cards or Tarot cards need not worry, the author does a terrific job of carefully explaining The Game with all of its complications. The world of Arcanum is a fascinating place. The author readies the reader for entry into this world for about 3/4 of the book. No detail is spared, the reader will be able to picture Arcanum and its goings on easily. The characters are fun to get to know. Flora is interesting, more genial than the other characters; Toby is a bit of a nerd, he can be annoying with his "knowledge"; Cat is tough and brave; Fabian has a memorable name as well as a large brain; Blaine is a little more dynamic than the other characters. The events were interesting, the world was unique, and the characters were nice to read about. The Game is very easy to understand, the authors' explanation is better than excellent. This book is perfect for the middle grade/teen reader. A sequel will be coming soon, watch for it!
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Fifteen-year-old Cat is a slightly-happy girl, who is sick to death of being caught on London's Tube. All she wants to do is make it out of the crowd and back to the flat she shares with her eccentric Aunt Bel. Cat lost her parents, and Bel has raised her since she was just a young child. Bel is a croupier at the local casino and is one of the most fun, entertaining people Cat has ever met. Bel followed a man to London in order to make her career get even better, which it does, as soon as they announce that Bel will become a pit boss. Cat is more the quiet-type. She tends to shy away from people, choosing to get on the Tube and ride the rails around and around, using the time to think about life and not have to become a part of the other niches happening all around her. One evening, Cat is trying desperately to get out of the mad rush toward the escalators. She wants to get home and can't stand the sweaty bodies that seem to be closing in on her from every side. The worst one? A heavily panting man right behind her who says some very odd words as he passes her by. This one man, this one odd meeting, will happen once again for Cat, and the location she ends up in is something she never expected. When she sees a trio of angry looking people following the panting man, Cat heads off after them, suddenly thinking that they're after the man and not in a good way. As Cat tries her best to discover where the man went, she stumbles into a room that is filled with four people. They call themselves, the King of Wands, the King of Swords, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Queen of Cups. Each one is a member of the Higher Arcana of the Tarot. Cat is speechless, she doesn't quite understand what they're talking about, and describes the man she'd seen running from a trio of angry pursuers. The Arcana laugh and try to explain to Cat that she shouldn't worry. All she did was get caught up in a silly, fun game. With that, they let Cat in on the secret, offering her an invitation from The Arcanum to join them at Temple House, Mercury Square, to become a member of the team. Cat arrives and sees the most amazing gifts being given to the people who have succeeded in their particular missions. Some things seem supernatural, such as winning the power of the Devil, but Cat is beyond intrigued as to what she's gotten herself into. As the four game masters explain the rules to Cat, she finds herself joining up and playing for her own gift. Whether people play for fame, fortune, romance, or inspiration, Cat plays for her own desires. But when she stumbles into a family secret within the Arcanum, Cat suddenly knows that this is not just a game. The risks are high, the rewards are great, and the rules are not in her favor. By taking the tarot world and building a story around it, this author has put a fascinating adventure inside a still, little known "science" that many people believe in. Quill Says: A fascinating book offering a look at the lengths people will go to get what they want.all wrapped up in a very 'cool' game.