Humans need a way to measure themselves to their peers. At first, physical strength and ability to fight determined the leaders. Then a small group took over and decided they were the bosses and so would be their descendants; birthrights and education gave us the aristocracy. Revolutions removed them from power and the bourgeoisie and its money climbed to the top. To better control people, they used charismatic leaders. After, the media industry dominated everyone's lives. Popularity of actors and singers decided who was in and who was out. Humanity longed for an objective way to rank individuals and establish who would be in charge. Thus came the Game.
Based on a three-dimensional version of chess, the Game developed into the planet's pastime when abundance reigned and work became optional. Its best players became heroes and the performance rating system, the way to social status. A bloodless revolution put the world champion on the throne. The greatest of them all, Paul II, stayed in position for twenty years, until he lost and committed suicide after being abandoned by his followers. The Game is a tool. The Game is a success meter. The Game is everything but a game.
Once more in History, social unrest is beginning. Ungifted players are starting to question its absolute presence in people's life. Are Princes and Grand-Masters indulging themselves? Underground movements are founded. The phenomenon is still in its infancy and very few are aware of their existence. In any case, we don't see them much in the book. Ninety years after its creation, and sixty-three after taking over the world, the Game is in need of a new hero. Someone who will restore faith in this social structure and its institutions.
This is the story of Paul Herbert, a young man of great talent, if not genius, and his journey. Secluded by the Orthodox Party, he trains in secret so he could be used like a bomb at the appropriate juncture. Leaks to the press set everything in motion earlier than anticipated and Paul has to come out in the open. Is he ready? How far is the party ready to go to ensure his success? Will he be a puppet or a new and independent light?
His name and his style remind all of Paul II, the man he was named after. Old friends of the former world champion are gathering around him. Is that a mean to get back under the sun, or is it the return of the good old days? Is he the head of the nihilist movement? Is his wife, one of the strongest female player, part of the women's liberation group? While he competes, tournament after tournament, the boy becomes a man. A strange feeling invades him but he cannot identify it. It grows and it grows until it evolves into a resolution.