Guest post – Anne Barwell celebrates Comes a Horseman

I’m delighted to welcome Anne Barwell to the blog to talk about the re-release of Comes a Horseman, the 3rd and final book in her WWII Echoes Rising series.

Take it away, Anne!

Pawn Takes Knight

As a chess player I’ve played against opponents who prefer to methodically wipe other players from the board, but I’ve always preferred a strategic game, and found it a much more satisfactory win.

Holm uses the game of chess as an analogy for his hunt for the Allied team in several scenes in this series.  He’s very much a man who considers every move he makes, and uses strategy as a tool to try and second guess his prey.

In Winter Duet, book 2 of Echoes Rising, Holm makes it clear what role he thinks Liang plays in his game, but he doesn’t specify what roles of the other players are, and who he considers his opponent.

Holm chuckled. “Do you play chess?”  His expression hardened when Liang nodded. “Please keep in mind that you are not the king on this board, or even a knight. You are merely a pawn, and those are easily sacrificed.”

And later on, he elaborates further on his own strategy:

“Well,” Holm said thoughtfully, “there is only one response to such a move.” He had always enjoyed a decent game of chess, especially against a player who provided rather more of a challenge. “If they have changed their strategy, so should we.” He steepled his fingers, glanced at the report on his desk, and smiled.

Up to this point all we’ve had of the game is one player’s point of view, but as their game continues, it becomes clearer who Holm considers his opponent to be.  Kristopher—Kit—might seem at first to be the pawn in this game, as he carries the information both sides want in order to win the war, or is he the king who both players need to protect at all cost, or they will forfeit the game?

Strategy Pawn Light Dark Shadow Chess

Kristopher is out of the depth for most of the first book, Shadowboxing, doing what he needs to stay alive.  In Winter Duet, there are more glimpses of why he was chosen to be part of the German atomic bomb project.  As he grows as a character, he finally begins to fight back, coming up with strategies to leave information for his allies, while staying one step ahead of his enemies. 

Sounds a bit like playing a game of chess, doesn’t it?

And then in Comes a Horseman, after Holm makes a move, the chess analogy switches sides, and we get another glimpse of the board, and a clue to the identity of the other player.

“It’s simple strategy, and one he often used when he played chess,” Kristopher explained. “He’s a keen chess player and often uses the game to size up potential… allies. Or opponents. We’ve… umm…” He glanced at Michel as though unsure whether to continue. Michel shook his head, but Matt guessed what Kristopher had been about to say.

Kristopher and Holm had played chess together. Probably more than once. It made sense. Holm had been in charge of the institute where Kristopher worked.

“What do you suggest we do?” Matt asked before Arlette could interrupt again.

“Chess is not just about wiping your opponent off the board. There’s more finesse to the game than that.”

So… has he been Holm’s opponent all this time? Or only now grown into the role? And if so, what roles do the other characters play on their board?

Holm is more than ready to sacrifice his pawns, but what happens when Death enters the game with a vengeance? Often when victory seems at hand, a game can suddenly change direction, and players are forced to make moves they wouldn’t usually in order to win the game.  Check doesn’t always lead to checkmate, and sometimes when there is no way out, the only option is surrender…

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About the Author

Anne Barwell
lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.

In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.  She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.

Anne’s books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated three times in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—twice for Best Fantasy, once for Best Historical, and once for All-Time Favourite M/M Author.

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