by David Bogie
“The Tengu’s Game of Go” is the last in a four-volume fantasy by Lian Hearn, set in medieval Japan. Magic beasts with enchanted weapons, convoluted plots with betrayals and double-crosses galore. Go? Not so much.
The author is well-versed in Japanese lore and history and has based many of her books on ancient and traditional folk stories. She knows the equipment used to play go but I don’t think she has any real concept of the game’s territorial objective.
During the game mentioned in the title, the tengu (a magical being) tricks a human into stealing an enchanted bow from his opponent. This theft somehow shifts the game in his favor, implying the author thinks of go as a series of contests with tangible goals. Go actually appears in only three or four short passages that will not interest go players in the least.