I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review The Master Game: Unmasking the Secret Rulers of the World by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval. I have been a fan of Hancock’s for several years. He thinks big and outside the box. He’s not afraid to voice his opinion nor to look behind the veil for a glimpse of the hidden mysteries and inner workings of this clockwork’s messy bits. Do I buy everything he’s selling? No, but I appreciate his conviction and often marvel at the way he connects the dots and patterns. A new Hancock work was just what the doctor ordered. Here are my thoughts on it.
The Master Game explores the possibility that there is a secret religion that has shaped the world we live in throughout history, culminating in the Renaissance, the birth of scientific rationalism, the French and American revolutions, and even the current, so called, War on Terror.
The Good — First, it’s a lovely package, this book. The cover is evocative and the overall design well thought out. Kudos to the publisher on that regard. As to the writing itself, it is crisp and sharp, with the sort of riveting narrative I’ve come to expect from both authors. I’ve read a bit of Bauval as well, being a bit of nutter when it comes to conspiracy theories, archaeoastronomy, secret societies, hidden history and the like. These gentlemen know their audience, know their subject matter, and are meticulous researchers. It was a rippingly good read that kept me guessing, thinking, and fact checking throughout.
The Bad — The Master Game, unfortunately, gets a bit bogged down in minutia at times and there are rabbit holes and land mines that distract frorm the authors’ intended purpose methinks. All in all, The Master Game would have benefited from a firmer editorial hand and more of a focused approach by the authors. That being said, much of the extraneous information was interesting, it just didn’t serve the overall purpose of the narrative well.
The Ugly — And here’s my major sticking point. I’d already read the lion’s share of this book before in an edition titled The Talisman (Element Books, 2004). Repackaging The Talisman as The Master Game is just bad form and deceptive. I consider this a black eye on the publisher and authors for this not so clever ruse. Of course, with The Talisman out of print, having a new edition is fantastic, but to not disclose that The Master Game is a revised and extended version of the earlier work is disappointing.
All that being said, The Master Game is a thrilling work and one I have no qualms with recommending. Even if you’ve already read this in its previous incarnation there are new kernels to chew on in the updated manuscript. I’m willing to forgive their oversight and non-disclosure for one simple reason: it’s a damn fine book that will keep you up into the wee hours questioning what’s really going on behind closed doors in the secret and not so secret places of power.
The Master Game is available wherever books are sold, which these days pretty much just means Amazon.com.