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The Prize in the Game

(Tir Tanagiri #3)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  27 reviews
When a friendly competition leads to the death of a beloved horse and incurs the wrath of the Horse Goddess, the kingdoms of the island of Tir Isarnagiri are doomed to suffer. As the goddess' curse chases them down the years, four friends destined for kingship-Conal, Emer, Darag, and Ferdia-are forced into conflict as their countries build towards war.

Matters are complicat
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 13th 2002 by Tor Books (first published August 13th 2002)
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Jo Walton Maga is still alive at the end of this book, but nevertheless there is some stuff about it, because a weird thing happens to Conal with time.

There's a…more
Maga is still alive at the end of this book, but nevertheless there is some stuff about it, because a weird thing happens to Conal with time.

There's a lot about the things that make all three of them the people they are later -- indeed, that's what the book is about. It's so long since I wrote it though, and it's all tangled up with the things that happen to the characters later (and the poem) that I had to think to remember whether I actually wrote Conal killing Maga or whether it's just in my head!

Aw, PitG. Nobody bought it, it is my non-selling book, and I haven't thought about it for ages but I'm still kind of fond of it.(less)

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This book is set years before The King's Peace, and focuses on several characters mentioned only in passing. Like many fantasy heroines, Emer yearns to prove her mettle in battle--although unlike most fantasies, what holds her back is not her sex but her youth. She throws herself headlong into the life of a warrior, and in so doing falls completely in love with Conal, another would-be warrior. Their love affair (which readers of the King books know ends tragically) is a frame for cattle-raids, ...more
I liked The King's Peace and The King's Name, but I loved The Prize in the Game. I read The Tain recently in preparation. It turns out to be a straighter (heh) retelling of The Tain than the Sulien books are of Arthuriana -- though, of course, I think The Tain has just one source text, whereas the Arthurian texts are a disparate bunch.

The fact that it's a fairly direct retelling threw me a little, but it isn't a bad thing. It's a very human version, especially in its portrayal of the deep love b
This is another novel set in the same world as The King's Peace and The King's Name, about people who appear in those books (and some who are only mentioned). I was quite a way into this when I suddenly realized that it's a reworking of the Irish legend the Tain Bo Cuailnge, or the Cattle-Raid of Cooley. I'm sure I didn't pick up on all of the parallels to the Tain, as it's been a long time since I read it (I'll have to reread it before I reread The Prize in the Game).

Anyway, it was fascinating
Falynn - the TyGrammarSaurus Rex
This is a retelling of the Tain and a prequel to the King's name books, but can be read as a standalone (as I did).

It took a while for me to get through this one, and I'm not sure why.

The characters were varied and interesting, although I could have lived with a few less POVs. And I really liked that the women could do or be anything - King, warrior, lawspeaker, poet - without reference to their gender. I did think the story was a little stilted in parts, possibly because it was trying to stay t
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is sort of a prequel and sort of a companion novel to the Tir Tanagiri series. Here we see how Queen Elenn, Conal/Fishface, and Emer were raised on the nearby island of Tir Isarnagiri. All of them come from royal blood and all are angling for kingship in one way or another (except for Elenn, who only wants to be a queen). I love the different depictions of femininity Walton shows us: Elenn, so beautiful poets write songs about her, doesn't understand anyone who isn't infatuated with her. In ...more
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-sff
This was frustrating; a decent book, but I expected it to be a fantastic one and was thus disappointed. I very much liked the four points of view and the way they interwove through time -- it is not so unusual to move between differing points, or even the same ones in the same order, but the way that each chapter was the same events but might go back and forth in time between the viewpoints was lovely.

So what, then, was amiss? I did not find the voices different enough; the characters, yes, they
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, romance, series
I loved this book! It took a little while to get rolling, but once it did... it was excellent! I almost want to reread it again, right now!

I just fell in love with several of the characters, whether they were good or bad, kind or nasty. The lengths they would go to for their honour or for the appearances of being honourable. The characters were so well developed. I grew so attached, I didn't want the book to end!

I read this book knowing it was a prequel to The King's Peace. So, when I finished,
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Well, I loved the first two of this trio, The King's Peace and The King's Name, which are a retelling of the Arthurian legends. This is a prequel (sort of) to the other two. Whereas the first two have to do with the kingdom of Tir Tanagiri (England) this has to do with its counterpart and heros of Tir Isarnagari (Ireland) who appear in the first two but are secondary characters. If you loved the first two, this will be icing on the cake. But these books aren't for everyone, so if you were not in ...more
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was very good. You get to know Conal, Emer, Elenn And Atha better. You meet new characters that are mentioned in King's Peace and The King's Name, like Maga and Darag. Walton did a very good job with her third installment (this was sort of a prelude to The King's Peace). More adventures and a little bit more magic and a more romantic story line (which none of them end good...). Jo Walton does tend to lean toward the tragic love thing. I don't think anyone has a happy ending at all. But ...more
Ry Herman
I found this one somewhat disappointing, considering that I quite liked both The King's Peace and The King's Name. Some parts of this are very well done, as I would expect from Jo Walton -- particular the ruling family of Connat, with its scheming, warped older generation and the two daughters rebelling in entirely different ways. But far too much of what's interesting happens offstage in this one; much more often than not, everything exciting is recounted secondhand or skipped over entirely. It ...more
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I preferred this one to The King's Peace. There's an archaic, formal prose style but it's very readable all the same. I sped through it in a couple of day.
When you're introduced to Elenn she's presented as this feminine girly-girl but her character deepens through the novel. By the end she's shown to have as much strength of character as her sister Emer.
I like the way we have a Celtic fantasy where it's just taken for granted that women can be warriors.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a prequel to Jo Walton’s other Tir Tanagiri books, and a retelling of the Irish epic The Tain, but filled with teenaged emotion. It’s a coming of age story focused on 6 teens who are royal kin. It’s set in historical times but addresses issues current teens grapple with - sexuality, identity, relationships. It’s full of adventure and great characterisation and I read it quickly because I was enjoying it so much!
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: incomparable
Prequel to the other books in the series. It doesn't quite connect -- the main actors here are minor players in the other couple books, but the key killing isn't in any of the stories. Elenn seems to be a different person in this story, although partially this is just the making of that woman, and partially we see such a different view of the same woman (girl).
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sffantasy, historical
I'm not sure if the tell-not-show stuff is a weakness or not - some things I would very much have enjoyed seeing on screen, but I know the point of the book is a bunch of teenagers being themselves around the edges of Irish legends. I do love this world, but the two Sulien books are stronger, I think.
Tanita Davis
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh, MAN this book -- kind of ends like Hamlet, with piles of bodies... it's also reminiscent of Greek mythologies, etc. Really well done, if a bit bewildering in terms of character's actions -- I'm left with a lot of "whys," but I think reading more of the Sulien series might answer them. Or then again, maybe not.
Oh so beautiful, tragic, and so down-to-earth real! This feels just like it could have been, those legendary tales from the misty times, if they had been told by someone understanding how actual people feel and work and change.
Seriously fantastic histories!
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]My first reaction was faint irritation that I had managed to end up with yet another retelling of the T ...more
William Gerke
Feb 14, 2010 marked it as to-read
I sat in several sessions with Jo Walton and watched her on several panels. She was funny, wise, and intelligent. Frankly, she struck me as someone I would like to get to know better. Since she's a writer, reading her stuff seems like a good beginning.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]My first reaction was faint irritation that I had managed to end up with yet another retelling of the T ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff
I liked the way it felt like it was both real people and re-talling of old myths or folk-stories. I liked the way Ferdia very obviously loved Darag.

I liked the switching points of view.

Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
(Note: Book jacket did a terrible job of summarizing this story). Coming of age stories for a group of royal youths in a Celtic world.
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff
More depressing than I had expected -- and given what I knew from having read The King's Peace, I expected it to be significantly depressing.
Anthony Faber
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Backstory of the folks from Tir Isarnagiri. I think you could read this independent of the 2 "The King's..." books without much of a problem. If you liked her first 2, you'll probably like this, too.
May 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Slow & slightly incomprehensible with annoying cliffhanger ending. But ok otherwise. ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ownership, owned-2016
A beautifully written book.
Kathy Piselli
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
How does she do it? Take what could have been a hackneyed, ordinary fantasy story with Celtic overtones and make me read it all in one sitting?
The Prize In The Game by Jo Walton (2000)
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.

Other books in the series

Tir Tanagiri (3 books)
  • The King's Peace (Tir Tanagiri, #1)
  • The King's Name (Tir Tanagiri, #2)

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