That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

About the author:

Carrie Vaughn (born January 28, 1973) is an American writer and author of the urban fantasy ‘Kitty Norville’ series. She has published more than 60 short stories in science fiction and fantasy magazines as well as short story anthologies, and internet magazines. She is one of the authors of the ‘Wild Cards’ books.


‘That Game We Played During the War’ revolves around a fantasy world where people of Gaant are telepaths and the people of Enith are not. They have been at war for decades but now, it is over and peace has fallen. Calla, a nurse from Enith is asked to visit Gaant by a soldier Valk, in hopes of renewing their friendship over a game of chess.

“This is how you won,” one of them said, amazed. He wasn’t talking about the game. “No,” Calla said. “This is how we failed to lose.”

This short story has an interesting plot. The narration takes place in the present and cuts back to the past where we get to know more about the relationship between the main characters. The game of chess is used as a metaphor for the war between the two nations. The game is more fun as one of the opponents is telepathic.

I loved the writing and how the fantasy element was introduced in the post-war story. It’s a little jarring to know that people around you can read all of your thoughts! The book makes you think about the uselessness of the war and wonder about the different possibilities. The emotions were portrayed beautifully and they make you connect with the characters.

The downside was that it was too short and a little underwhelming for me. I know ‘short stories’ are supposed to be short but they should be self-sufficient. There was no proper world building and the concept of telepathy wasn’t explored. It made me curious and raised all the questions about their unusual situation and the reason behind the feud, only to leave them unanswered. 

I felt like I was reading a little snippet from a larger book. It’s an intriguing concept and I wouldn’t mind reading a full book about it. Otherwise, it’s a good short story about friendship and reconciliation after the war.

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I'm an introvert, agnostic-atheist, insatiable reader, fitness enthusiast, daydreamer, music-lover, cat-adorer, eternal optimist with a touch of cynicism, curious soul, annoying preacher, OCD for cleanliness with a teeny affinity for messiness!

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