American Go E-Journal

Review: “The Tengu’s Game of Go”

Tuesday January 3, 2017

by David Bogie
2017.01.01_tengu-game

“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.

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