The story of a newcomer’s first foray into the unique world of the Strategy games, All In The Game illustrates the game's sophisticated rules, goals and procedures as well as the various characters who play.
The novella was begun by author Jonnie Comet in about 1984; a complete draft was first finished in 1993. It is the oldest surviving Strategy-related story line in the ‘Two Paradises’ fiction/fantasy realm.
Amy is the daughter of Andrew Cavaliere, a businessman from Hartford, Connecticut, USA, who is the brother of Sir Jonathan Cavaliere, Lord Paradise. During Palm Sunday weekend, 1995, Amy arrives with her family at her uncle’s Camelot estate on Treasurer’s Cay and eagerly, though naively, joins up with her cousin Lady Susie’s side for a major Strategy contest about the estate grounds and surrounding waters. Treated unfairly by Jenny Talbot and Lady Susie, Amy is imprisoned in the dungeons of Dark Lord Castle, a former fort and current guest house at the far end of the island. Once freed by her gallant cousin Jonathan, she must hike the water’s edge for some time before his game schooner can rendezvous with her. She is welcomed as a member of the Silver Knights, learns to shoot a paintball gun, helps recover hidden game treasure, meets the charming young gentleman Harvey, and contributes materially during a complex sailing operation in which the Silver Knights prevail over two other teams.
The story serves as an adequate introduction to numerous characters in the Paradise One domain, particular those secondary characters who often do not receive as much narrative attention as here.
Amy (12-1/2) is depicted as being a pretty, serious, innocent girl, shapely and blonde, a devout Roman Catholic from an all-girls school in Connecticut who knows little to nothing of the comparatively open, lenient ways of the Paradise Islands. She values ladylike deportment, honesty and trust, leaving herself open to being deceived, but having experienced the spirited activities common to Strategy games she emerges slightly seasoned and newly aware of interests and abilities she might not have known she had.
Lord Jonathan Edit
Jonathan (14-1/2) is shown to be an energetic, almost-ruthless Strategist who, though he seems to prefer small-group or solo operations, prizes loyalty to the team and ethical conduct above all else. He is fond of wearing small bikini-style swimsuits and of jumping, climbing, swimming and running with swashbuckling derring-do, promoting two consistent themes of Strategy play. His particular attention to protecting Amy physically and emotionally suggests an almost-romantic connection between the two; but on his side it is only gentlemanly gallantry whilst on Amy's side it is something of a hero-worshipper's crush.
Christopher Cavaliere Edit
Chris (14), son of Lord Paradise's first cousin, makes his first substantive appearance in this story. He is serious, almost stoic and grouchy, and shows unfailing loyalty and trust in his cousin Lord Jonathan's strategic decisions to the exclusion of all others. Jonathan seems to prefer his company to that of others, though Chris can have little experience with the tactics or the territory as he is in the islands only rarely.
Jenny (14) cheerfully befriends Amy on the estate's narrow-gauge train, being the first one to invite Amy into the game, which Amy did not even know was taking place, but quickly shows herself to be somewhat prone to jealousy, as though resenting Amy's presence on the estate and then tricking her out of her measure of game money, and is loyal only to Lady Susie. Pretty, well-dressed and clearly attractive to most boys, she fulfils the role of femme fatale.
Susie (15) first appears in rising naked from the bath and proceeds to dress only nominally over the course of the story. For most of the plot she wears only knickers, common enough for girls in Paradise but objectionably provocative to sheltered Amy's perspective. Whilst clever and a skilful strategist, she tends to plan for battle according to the needs of her ego and, as such, is unsuccessful against those with more sportsmanlike inclinations.
Matthew Holloway Edit
Matt (15), Jonathan's lifelong friend by way of their families' close association, appears as a gallant cavalier sailor, eloquent in speech and dashing with his deep-maroon swordsman's blouse, tight white breeches, and headful of unruly curly dark hair. Amy, who has known him since childhood, is moved by his romantic appearance and disappointed when Jonathan sends him off on a fool's errand merely to avoid sharing treasure spoils with him. Matt proves himself a loyal friend, however, in gallantly acquiescing to Jonathan's right to claim the majority of spoils, only serving to show himself as more the agreeable young gentleman.
Brian Traynor Edit
Brian (15-1/2) is Jonathan's trusted boat captain who handles the 10-metre lug-rigged schooner during game operations. He is taciturn, formal, easily worried and devoutly concerned with propriety and fair play, making him something of a foil to Matt Holmes. Left alone with him on the boat, Amy quickly feels at-ease with his gentle, sensible instructions and succeeds in manning the air-cannon to good effect.
Ken Holmes Edit
Ken (15-1/2), a longtime associate of Jonathan and Brian, is depicted as a loyal teammate and something of a playboy whom Jonathan will not trust alone with his young cousin. Though it is doubtful Ken would transgress propriety, his constant interest in girls, particularly those in the company of, or related to, those he knows, would prove a distraction to the detriment of the game at hand. He openly compliments Amy as she is rescued after falling into the bay fully clothed, but his compliment seems an insipid placeholder for his real impressions; the reader may conjecture just why she holds his interest in that moment.
Characters having important roles in the story also include George Cavaliere, Kimberley Cavaliere, Mark Doyle, and numerous others known primarily as Strategy players.
All In The Game is also the name of a deluxe compilation volume including the novella preceded by the stories ‘Drizzly Dawn’ and 'Rain Game’, and succeeded by ‘Winners and Losers’, all of which focus on Amy’s earliest experiences in playing Strategy, meeting her cousins' friends, and otherwise exploring Camelot palace, the estate, and nearby places.
The story serves as a good example of the author’s ‘stranger in Paradise’ theme, that of a newcomer being indoctrinated into the ways of the Paradise Islands. Several characters make the effort to explain localisms to Amy, thus explaining them to the reader as well; therefore the novella makes an excellent introduction to the ‘Paradise One’ arc, especially as regards Strategy-game practices, Paradisian slang, social conventions, and the geography of Treasurers' Cay and of Somerset Township.
Fan service is amply provided with descriptions of Amy in wet clothing and later in a swimsuit, of Lady Susie arising from the bath and then playing in only knickers, and of suggested intimacy between Lady Susie and Jenny Talbot. Typical of many, if not most, Two Paradises episodes, many girls are depicted as playing Strategy or participating in social situations whilst startlingly underdressed, most commonly barebreasted.
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