Summary and Opinion of Sidney Sheldon’s “Master of the Game”
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Sidney Sheldon is a superb author capable of fabricating plots as intricate as a spider’s web. Master of the Game entices the reader, keeping them eagerly rolling their eyeballs over word after word, flipping page after page into the wee hours of the morning.
The book is a tale of a young Scottish teenager who ventures down to South Africa in 1883, and wrenches from the barren earth a fortune in diamonds. He is swindled by his business partner, Saloman Van Der Merwe, but with his wits and bravery defeats his ex-partner and with his money builds up a massive conglomerate. Bantu tribes murder his son, and he suffers a stroke, leaving his wife to head the company. His wife Margaret heads the company, but it is his daughter Kate that is as driven and passionate as him and builds the conglomerate into an even larger one. She is a shrewd business woman and manipulates the lives of her offspring. Because of her passion for her company, she wanted her son to also work in it and build it up, however he did not want to- he had a passion for the arts.
He was a talented painter and he could have gotten far if Kate had not paid off a Parisian critic to insult him so deeply that he could never be an artist, ever. Kate manipulates her son into marrying a German girl named Marianne so that she could merge Marianne’s father’s company with her own. Marianne had a condition that could possibly kill her if she had babies, but Kate kept that a secret from her son and Marianne had twins, and died. Tony found out and shot his mother, but she did not die. He had a lobotomy and went to a sanitarium and the twins turned out to be equally beautiful, but very different. One, Eve, was conniving, jealous, greedy, and promiscuous, and the other, Alexandra, was sweet and loving. Eve attempts to kill Alexandra many times but is unsuccessful and she makes them look like accidents. She also deals drugs and sleeps with many men, and blames it all on Alexandra.
Kate finds about Eve’s tricks and lies and disinherits her, bans her from the family, and expels her from their lives. Eve finds a man to marry Alexandra and murder her, so Kate will have to bring Eve back into the family. But, the man is crazy and beats up Eve very severely, and when Kate finds out that Eve was hurt, although she doesn’t know it was Alexandra’s husband, she brings Eve back into the family. Eve then murders Alexandra’s husband. The doctor who treated Eve after she was beaten by Alexandra’s husband realizes Eve killed the husband, and says he will testify against Eve, unless she marries him. She does, and when Kate finds out the whole story she has the doctor disfigure Eve’s face to make her a grotesque, which he does. Eve transforms from a cruel, conniving, greedy woman into a sweet, loving one simply because she is so grotesque. Although Kate has no one to work in the company, she still is the Master of the Game, because she in the end manipulates everyone’s lives and deals what she thinks is justice.
In general, this book is captivating. The twists, turns, and dips are like a roller coaster ride and when one finds a book that can truly hold one’s interest enough to have one flipping page after page when it’s well past midnight, one know that it is a quality piece of literature. What was interesting was Jamie’s shrewd ways of stealing the diamonds back, and getting revenge at Van Der Merwe. Also, how Eve disguised her murder plots, and how she blamed Alexandra for everything were also very interesting.
Although this book was phenomenal, some parts were annoying. Kate manipulated Tony’s life so much, that he did not live his own life at all–his career was dictated by her, as well as his marriage. He might as well have been a puppet, with Kate holding the strings, and even if that was annoying, it is the point that Sheldon was trying to stress. He wanted to show how cruel and manipulative Kate could be.
I recommend this book highly, but not for school reading. A couple of parts toward the end are rather sexually graphic and although do not dominate the plot are not appropriate for reading in school. However, for anyone looking for a book full of adventure and reality, this is the perfect one.