Paul III of Montreal

Review
Review

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Humans have always needed a way to measure themselves against their peers. First, physical strength and the ability to fight determined the leaders.Then a small but powerful group took over and decided they were the bosses and their descendants would follow them; birthright and education gave us the aristocracy. Revolutions finally removed them from power and they used charismatic leaders. After that, the media dominated everyone’s lives. The popularity of actors and singers decided who was in and who was out. Humanity longed for an objective way to rank individuals and establish
who would be in charge. Then came the Game.

Based on a three-dimensional version of chess, the Game developed into the planet’s pastime at a moment in history when abundance reigned and work had become optional. The best players became heroes and the performance rating system, the way to social status. A bloodless revolution put the world champion on the throne. The greatest of them all, Paul II, stayed in position for twenty years, until he lost and committed suicide after being abandoned by his followers. The Game was a tool. The Game was a success meter. The Game was everything but a game.

The book opens at a point in History where social unrest is beginning. Ungifted players are starting to question its absolute presence in people’s lives. Are Princes and Grand-Masters indulging themselves? Underground movements are founded. The phenomenon is still in its infancy, and very few are aware of their existence. In any case, we don’t see them much in the book. Ninety years after its creation, and sixty-three after taking over the world, the Game is in need of a new hero; someone who will restore faith in the existing social order.

This is the story of Paul Herbert and his journey. Kept in seclusion by the Orthodox Party, he trains in secret to be used as a bomb at the appropriate juncture. Unfortunately, leaks to the press set things in motion earlier than anticipated and Paul has to come out in the open. Is he ready? How far will the party go to ensure his success? Will he be a puppet or a new and independent light?

His name and his style remind everyone of Paul II, the man he was named after. Old friends of the former world champion gather around him. Is this a means of getting a place in the sun, or is it the return of the good old days? Is he the head of the nihilist movement? Is his wife, one of the strongest female players, part of the women’s liberation group? While he competes, tournament after tournament, the boy becomes a man. A strange feeling invades him but he cannot identify it. It grows until it evolves into a resolution.