Taken in and raised on the rails by the first woman to pilot a freight train, Durriken has one remaining connection to his Romani roots: a small wooden box that hangs from the hammer loop of his overalls.
The last gift he received from his grandfather, the box contains the world’s first chess set. But a piece is missing: the Red Queen. According to Durriken’s family lore, the complete set awakens the power of Tărie, a mercurial gift that confers unique abilities on each new Master.
When a suspicious fire erupts in the Chicago rail yard, Durriken’s escape produces an uneasy alliance, though not without its silver lining. Dilia is a few inches taller, several degrees cleverer, and oh yes – very pretty. While Durriken is uneasy allying with a girl whose parents were convicted of sedition, there’s no doubt she is a powerful partner. And while it’s not immediately clear to either, her own Guatemalan culture and family history are deeply entwined with the ancient Romani mystery.
Jumping box cars, escaping riverboats, deciphering clues, crossing swords with the brilliant madman Radu Pinch – with great American cities as its backdrop – Gypsy Knights is the page-turning saga of Durriken Brishen and his quest to rediscover his past.
The Metz brothers have created a wonderful novel entailing family hardships, mystery, suspense, friendship and, of course, chess. It is extremely well written and held me captivate from the very first page. I especially enjoyed the way in which the chapters are set up. Each chapter title tells the place and time and, as there are multiple stories taking place at once, all leading up to the same event, the narrative jumps back and forth between the early 1960s and 1965. This tactic keeps the reader on his/her toes and is written in such a way as to promote suspense, especially as not all events are explained between past and present until exactly the right time.
The characters within the story, especially Durriken, are extremely real and well written. I enjoyed them all, Dilia and Durriken being my favorite, as they embarked on their adventures and grew throughout the story. This novel is action packed and will captivate those of all ages, especially lovers of chess—though those not familiar with the game will also find it extremely interesting. Four stars.
I received a copy of this novel from the authors in exchange for an honest review.