A review of “The Foolish King-The Secret History of Chess” by Mark Price.

foolish king

David Fickling Hardback £10.99

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Publisher David Fickling says:

The secret history of chess!

Long, long ago, when kings ruled the land, dragons filled the sky and magic still existed, two small children stumbled upon the game of chess. This is your chance to discover it with them . . .

Join Pip and Holly on a magical fairy-tale adventure and become a CHESS MASTER.

Packed with INTERACTIVE PUZZLES and GAMES, and clear instructions and tips on how to improve your technique, this book is a must have.

So what did I think?

This is such a great idea for a book: teaching kids (and grown-ups!) how to play chess through story. My eight year old said, “I’ll just read the first chapter” when he spotted the book. An hour later and he was still wrapped up in it!

The Foolish King starts by matching chess pieces to characters from when “the magical game of chess was first discovered“. And so the secret history of the game unfolds. We enter a fairy tale realm where Pip and Holly enjoy an idyllic existence: growing up in a beautiful, peaceful garden. However, King Parip’s terrible behaviour leads to a situation that could threaten the whole kingdom, and  Pip and Holly stumble across ‘The Great Game’…but not quite as we know it today!

As their game dramatically progresses, we learn the rules of chess and what the aim of the game is. With the chess pieces all being colourful characters in the story, it’s really easy to follow, even for someone like me who’s never quite managed to learn how to play chess before (despite lots of effort!)

Beautifully illustrated by Martin Brown of the Horrible Histories books, there are puzzles to work out throughout the story. Solving the puzzles helped me understand the bigger picture of the game, and Mark Price’s delightfully told story made the game play more meaningful and easy to remember.

Is there a happy ending for Holly and Pip, though? Ah… you’ll just have to work that out yourself!

This is a beautiful book to give as a gift to inspire novice chess players of all ages, and with a Foolish King ipad app available too, you have everything you need to get going.

Here’s the author, Mark Price, talking about the book:

I think I’ll just go and dust off the chess set that I bought in Turkey twenty years ago!

Many thanks to Laura- and David Fickling- for sending us this copy to review.

Happy chess playing 🙂

Pippa Wilson

7th September 2016



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