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Queenmagic, Kingmagic
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The perpetual war between Bellogard and Chorny re-creates the moves of a magical chess game until two opposing pawns fall in love and seek a way out of their world before its inevitable end. Despite a promising beginning and an intriguing premise, the extended metaphor in Watson's latest fantasy eventually wears thin. For large fantasy collections only. JC

That cool, cerebral Watson should have written a chess novel seems inevitable, in hindsight. His characters have often been obsessed with learning the underlying rules of their worldsand transcending them. Here the kingdoms of Bellogard and Chorny are locked in a perpetual magical war that gives structure, reason and energy to their medieval society. The protagonist, pawn-squire Pedino of Bellogard, is forced to reexamine his assumptions and loyalties when he falls in love with his opposite number, Sara of Chorny. In escaping, they visit other realms, including a version of Monopoly that comments satirically on the 1980s economic scene. Although the pattern here is familiar from previous Watson novels (Deathhunter, Converts), this is lighter, more textured and more engagingly peopled. (February)

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