Pawn’s Gambit (A Mortal Techniques novel) by Rob J Hayes #PawnsGambit #MortalTechniques

Today I’m very happy to be taking part in the blog tour for Pawn’s Gambit by Rob J Hayes.  I’ve listed lots of information below so please check out the other blogs taking part and take a chance to look at the author bio.


Pawn'sPawn’s Gambit is the second book in Rob Hayes’ Mortal Techniques series and it’s impressive. This isn’t my first book by this author and it certainly won’t be my last but what it shows beyond any doubt is that Hayes has some writing chops and he seems (unbelievably) to improve with each successive novel.

Never Die and Pawn’s Gambit are set in the same world but are two horses of a very different nature, although, they share a common thread.  That of heros.  I think I can confidently say that you could read this book as a standalone although I think personally it makes sense to start with the first.  There are small references in here that readers of Never Die will enjoy but at the same time I have the feeling that the author is really going somewhere with this series.  Like, yeah, you can read them alone, but also they’re going to collectively build into something fantastic.

So, Pawn’s Gambit is set in the same fantastic world as Never Dies but a few years down the line.  We meet up with our central protagonist Yuu.  Yuu is at a low point in her life.  She has massive guilt for things that happened in her past and usually loses herself in a bottle by midday each day, although she’s still sharp enough to regularly beat anyone who wants to stand against her at chess.  Each day is much the same as the last until one day a new pretender sits opposite, a young girl called Natsuko who turns Yuu’s world on its head again, and in using that phrase ‘turn on it’s head’ I’m also picturing one of those hourglass devices – because, put bluntly, the time is ticking.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  Imagine, if you will, a pantheon of the Gods. The ruler of the Gods is currently the God of War, and you might be able to imagine the bloodshed he has wreaked upon his mortal worshippers during his time on the seat of power.  But now, his fellow Gods have the opportunity to challenge him. Each may seek a champion who will, on the mortal world, seek relics on behalf of the God which they serve.  The idea is that eventually a challenge will occur and perhaps a new God will sit upon the throne – one that doesn’t harvest lives but instead creates harmony? Maybe yes, maybe no – at the end of the day all the Gods have their own agenda.  Let the games begin.

At its heart Pawn’s Gambit is a quest,  All the champions are racing the clock to find the most relics and each is assisted by the God they’ve signed up with.  Now, this isn’t the quick, all swords blazing thrill ride that Never Ride was.  This is more a story of redemption and, whilst it’s not a slow burn, it certainly provides some character development that is impressive.

So, Yuu is a strategist.  In a former life she was known as the Art of War although that is both a mask and a moniker that she left behind long ago.  Natsuko is a God.  The God of lost or forgotten things in fact.  Sometimes a young girl, sometimes a crone.  In spite of mutual distrust the two strike a deal.

Look, I’m basically not going to talk about the plot.  It’s good.  That’s all you need to know.  Trust me on this if you please.

The Writing.  Well, I just think Hayes gets better and better – the crazy thing is, I loved both of his books that I already read and so I can understand you might be thinking how reliable is this woman – how can things keep improving if they were already so good.  Look, I’m not here to explain the laws of the universe but I can tell you that this author reinvents and improves himself on a continual basis and it’s fascinating and compelling.  This is a book set in the same world as Never Dies, it has little shout outs which are great if you read the first book, but at the same time not necessary if you haven’t, but it has a totally different style and feel.  The first is all fighting, furious paced and something of a thrill ride.  The second is a game of strategy, with some incredibly thrilling individual set pieces that are both unique and gripping.

But, the best part of Pawn’s Gambit.  Well, I say the best part but always bear in mind that I’m a sucker for the long game which is definitely a factor here, is the characters.  The potential that is explored and the variety.  Hayes seems to be a master of gathering together the most unlikely contingent of characters and making them gel together in a way you couldn’t conceive and then making them into something more.

Anyway, at this moment, apart from the fact that I clearly loved this book I’m struggling to decide which I like more.  At the end of the day I don’t think one is better than the other.  These are two entirely different beasts.  both full of captivating scenes, shocks and heart.  One fast paced and furious. The other a mind game that, don’t get me wrong has plenty of action,  but that builds to a grand finale of brains against brawn.

Seriously, people, read Hayes. That is all.

My rating – 5 of 5 stars

Blog Tour:

  1. Novel Notions – review 
  2. Grimmedian – review
  3. Out of this World sff  reviews – review
  4. The Book Prescription – review
  5. Realms of My MInd
  6. Maxine’s Obsessions
  7. Grimdark Magazine
  8. Fantasy Book Critic

Official release date: 26th January 2021

Author info:

Twitter : RoboftheHayes

Winner of Mark Lawrence’s 3rd Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) with Where Loyalties Lie

Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as he was old enough he started playing with swords… OK, wooden sticks.

At the age of fourteen he started writing but, like most fourteen year old boys, everything had to be either a vampire, a werewolf, or have superpowers. Thankfully, like most fourteen year old boys, he eventually grew up… a bit.

After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey, Rob ran away to live on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.

When he’s not madly scribbling his next epic, Rob has a variety of hobbies that, unsurprisingly, are fantasy themed. He regularly plays card games based on the A Game of Thrones and the Netrunner universes and attends tournaments throughout the UK. Rob also enjoys Airsofting: the act of running around a forest with fake guns shooting (being shot by) his friends.