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Ace in the Hole

(Wild Cards #6)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,361 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Since a strange alien virus created the superhuman beings known as Aces and Jokers 40 years ago, they have struggled for respect and recognition. Now, they are key players in a presidential convention torn by hatred and dissent as assassins stalk the halls of the convention and one of the candidates plans to use his secret Wild Card power for evil. A journey of intrigue ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by Spectra
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  1,361 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: superheroes
I started this book not knowing what to expect. The Puppetman triad up until this point hadn't had the structure and dramatic build-up of the Astronomer/Swarm triad preceding it. Worrying me more was the fact that I had not yet been sold on the mosaic novel format. Jokers Wild (which, to be fair, was the first mosaic novel ever written), while a very good novel when at its best, felt, at its worse, like the novelization of a PBeM roleplaying game.

And so I started reading Ace in the Hole. I was
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of pulp scifi
This book makes up for volume 5 of the series. It's storyline is like a tragedy, and not everybody gets to live happily ever after. It's set during the Democratic Convention in Atlanta in '88, where Senator Hartmann is trying to win the nomination against the far right candidate Reverend Barnett.

The chickens come home to roost, as the histories of all the biggest players in the series come barrelling down out of history and demand their due, while the aces and jokers desperately try to get the
ylva a.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As per usual, I started out very skeptical towards this book. Even now, after the heartwrenching final 50 pages, there are plotpoints that I look back on and wince. But that is only to be expected, I suppose, when the concept of the book is that seven or eight of the series's most unstable and volatile characters have gathered at a conference that will decide the future of the United States. And hey - when the only character with something even remotely resembling a functional moral compass is ...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Will review soon at
Benjamin Kahn
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Kind of a boring entry in the series. When I started reading the wild card books, I never thought "superheroes are OK, but I'd really like a fictionalized account of a nomination process for a presidential candidate." But that's what we got.

Besides the boring plot, we have a number of characters milling around, not really getting anywhere, building to what is supposed to be a climatic scene. But that scene is a bit of a letdown. I will admit that I read the first two books in this particular arc
Baal Of
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This one started off a bit slow, with lots of details around the campaign for president, some of which I found a bit boring, but then it kicked into high gear about halfway through. Lots of action, and some spectacularly gory violence, with a substantial number of main character deaths. Definitely pulp, and not high-brow, but pretty intense fun.
Craig Childs
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gregg Hartmann is on the verge of winning the nomination for President of the United States at the 1998 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. He has all the usual political problems to contend with -- Rev. Leo Barnett is a strong challenger with growing support in the Bible Belt southern states, Michael Dukakis and Al Gore want to parlay their minority delegates into a Vice Presidential spot on the ticket, and Jesse Jackson does not want the a jokers' rights plank to supersede his platform ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ace in the Hole completes the second internal trilogy of the Wild Cards, finishing up many of the plotlines of Aces Abroad and Down and Dirty and bringing the Puppetman plotline to the end. The main plot centers around a presidential convention, which is already a bizarre enough system on its own. Bring super powers and assassins--and super powered assassins into the mix--and things go very very sideways.

This book really does show what makes the Wild Cards books shine, with just enough real
Enjoyed this better than the last volume (Down and Dirty) because it felt more like a regular novel. It didn't have the string-of-short-stories feel of the previous mosaic novels.

The first half was rough going to a non-American because of how boring the political machinations were. I think that if they explained the politics more, I would have enjoyed the sneaky cut and thrust of it. Or if they glossed over the politics more, it would have taken less space and I wouldn't have been bored. But as
Brian Rogers
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This really is the strongest of the books since the first, using the same editorial tour de force that worked in book 3 where all of the stories interweave with each other. This time its 5 of the 7 stores, as the other two stories are their own book in the series, which was absolutely the right call. (And the fact that Martin pulled that off so nothing in book 6 feels incomplete is a marvel). Everything about this duology feels like the end of the series, concluding long running plot arcs, ...more
Scott Laight
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this might be my favourite Wild Cards book so far!
For the first time, this one is written as one long novel rather than a short stories or a collection of stories and I think it worked great.
Ace in the Hole focuses solely on Greg Hart man's (aka Puppetman) nomination campaign and only features a few characters but I think that actually enriches the story and gives us some precious time with some of our favourite characters (Tachyon), some we didn't know much about (Demise), and some
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While I honestly can't stand anything Game Of Thrones' related, Georges R.R. Martin manage to be one of my favorite author by the sheer force of being on the cover of :
- one of my all-time favorite book, The Armageddon Rag,
- one of my favorite book cycle: Wild Cards.
I still have a lot to read, but Ace in the Hole has a special place in my heart. We now know the characters and the stakes, we can now thrive with the characters while they try to stop Puppetman from becoming the next president of
Travis Kuhlman
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Wild Card series is quickly becoming my go-to for pleasure reading. The characters are well-fleshed out, the premise is interesting, and it does a good job of keeping the audience on its toes. That being said, there are dozens of books a reader will need to go through to get the full experience and this novel operates under the presumption that the audience knows the ins-and-outs of every character and backstory. The ending is a frantic melee told from multiple perspectives and it kept me ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story in this book was amazing. I loved it. Very tight and exciting.

Again I hated the multiple readers. They were all uneven in their presentation. So as I did with the last few I listened to this at 1.25x speed. That helped make some of the readers less agonizing.
Angeleah Smith
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Wild Cards book so far
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: wild-cards
Very dark and it took a while to get going, but the last half was riveting.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow!!! What a ride!!! The building tension to the end is great and the butchery... Wow!!! speechless!!! Excellent book!! So far, the best of the series!
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A little slow to start but soon picks up the pace. A really good ending even if a little anticlimactic. It really felt like the end of an era.
Andrew Stadler
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was enjoyable. I think I’ll take a break after the next book, but this one had a good story. What would the 1988 democratic primary been life if there was an Ace running?
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Some endings, some good some bad, but still a lot of open plot lines.
Brandt Anderson
Great mosaic novel. Multiple characters saw growth. Love how it is intertwined with the seventh book.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
By the sixth book in a series, it seems almost pointless to try to sum up what came before in writing a review - fortunately, Ace In The Hole makes it easy by being the point at which (almost) all the narrative threads and characters from earlier novels converge. And what an epic convergence it is! The stage is, quite literally, set at the 1988 Democratic convention for the election of the party's presidential candidate - and Senator Gregg Hartmann, with his diabolical alter ego Puppetman and ...more
Christopher Dodds
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was strange to read this book as it played out as a type of political thriller but it worked and the characters were well written and thought out and it was great how different they all were the characters in terms of their abilities and personalities, or even if they had good or bad motivations.
But what I loved about was the story and how it follows a real period of American history but with several differences and I always enjoy reading these books.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was definitely one of the better Wild Card books as it tells a more coherent story. I loved the character development and the book was intensely action packed with good character development. I enjoyed it immensely.
Shannon Appelcline
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book feels like a capstone for the Wild Cards series: what it's all been leading to.

That's in part because of the storyline. It's all about Gregg Hartman and his quest for the presidency, one of the most interesting plotlines set up in Wild Cards. But it also gives us our first spotlight on Golden Boy since that first book, and thus it sets up his possibility for redemption.

But moreso, Ace in the Hole is the novel that knocked the idea of a mosaic novel out of the park. This was the second
Eric Bauman
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
As I may have mentioned before, I am on a quest to reread all of the “Wild Cards” books that I have already read (the first thirteen or fourteen books, I think) in order before I start to read the newer ones (which I haven’t read), mainly so that I can remind myself of who all the characters are after all these years. I was looking forward to reading this one because, as I remember it, this was one of my favorite (if not the favorite) books. Having just finished it, that belief was proven ...more
Sep 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Every 3rd book in this series wraps up the preceeding 2 books, while keeping with the on-going chronology and exploits of characters previously mentioned. They are also continuous where as the previous two books are arranged as stories by different authors. I'm not sure I can say I like it more than III. This one centers around a political convention and had me, at least, rooting for the bad guy... Well one of the bad guys. I'm hoping the let up a bit on poor Dr. T. he seems to be getting pretty ...more
Alex Sarll
A little like The Wire, the early Wild Cards books seem to make a point of telling one ongoing story while covering different territory each volume, and in this one it's politics, with the action taking place at the 1988 Democrat convention. Now, what little I know about US party conventions is at least eight years old, so while this isn't the first time I've heard of superdelegates, I was a little rusty on some of the finer points of protocol. Still, it doesn't take long to get the feel for it ...more
Nathan Burgoine
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was by far the best of the Wild Card series to date that I've read. The villain, "Puppetman"/Gregg Hartman, was a truly chilling villain.

If you've not read the series at all, you do need to start with the first book, but the general overview is thus: an alien virus, called the "wild card" is released into Earth's atmosphere around the end of WW2. The virus kills 9 of 10 infected people - called "Drawing the Black Queen"(luckily, infection isn't all that common), and of the survivors, 9 in
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
The novel focuses on the Presidential campaign of Gregg Hartmann and the events of the Democratic National Convention of 1988. Hartmann, as readers of the series know, is the Ace Puppetman and has used his manipulative powers to get to this point in his political career. In this novel we get an extra helping of Puppetman and really get to delve into what makes this character work.

The other characters prominent in the events of this novel are Tachyon, Jack "Golden Boy" Braun, and James "Demise"
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George R.R. Martin was born September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies,

Other books in the series

Wild Cards (1 - 10 of 29 books)
  • Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)
  • Aces High (Wild Cards, #2)
  • Jokers Wild (Wild Cards, #3)
  • Aces Abroad (Wild Cards, #4)
  • Down and Dirty (Wild Cards, #5)
  • Dead Man's Hand (Wild Cards, #7)
  • One-Eyed Jacks (Wild Cards, #8)
  • Jokertown Shuffle (Wild Cards, #9)
  • Double Solitaire (Wild Cards, #10)
  • Dealer's Choice (Wild Cards, #11)
“Politicians were mostly people who'd had too little morals and ethics to stay lawyers.” 174 likes
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