Confidence Game by Michelle M. Welch
Confidence Game describes itself as two characters who are troubled by their history and are caught up in a situation that leads them together to confront their problems. The dual main characters of Elzith and Tod are both broken to a certain degree and the story revolves around their burgeoning relationship and the impending problems that they have to overcome.
Elzith is a orphan, raised to be a super competent spy for the Justices of Dabion, a ruling council of Magistrates. She is emotionally dead and struggling to find meaning in what she is doing beyond being the best at it. A mission gone awry leaves her unable to continue her work and forces her to forge a new life from what she used to be. She’s really an unsympathetic character and I really struggled to find a reason to like her.
Tod is the youngest son of a family of renowned tanners. He is extremely timid and has lived through a childhood of abusive older brothers and eventual problems with alcoholism. He’s also not an easy character to like because he is so weak. I pity him, but I don’t like him.
Michelle Welch has an interesting vision of a corrupt government that is based on laws that are subject to change by the very judges who are supposed to interpret them. Welch does a decent job of world-building, but the characters that she uses to tell the story are just not very exciting. She introduces magic and it runs a consistent theme in the story. The plots and intrigue which she tries to develop could have been really good, but there just seemed to be a missing element for the story. I finished it, but it was no page-turner.
Five Countries — (2003-2005) Publisher: SHE DIDN’T BREAK THE RULES. THEY BROKE HER. Beneath its peaceful exterior, Dabion is a land of violence and intrigue, its politics run by judges, schemers, and spies. Elzith Kar is one such spy, gifted with an uncanny skill derived from rigorous training and an unusual magic inherited from parents she never knew. Dabion may have use for her talent, but its rulers fear the magic that tempts it, so Elzith has hidden her history and true power, becoming a master player in a game she despises. But now, as she heals in the aftermath of a dangerous mission, Elzith finds herself temporarily forced into life as a civilian. It is here she finds Tod Redtanner, a humble man with secrets of his own, and feels compelled to tell him her story. But as Elzith’s history unfolds and the present begins to unravel, it soon becomes clear that the past haunts more than just her dreams. And that if Elzith is to survive, she has no choice but to return to the world of intrigue and corruption that was once her domain. And this time she must play to win.
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