We are but pawns on a chessboard too large to see the edges

I remember hearing this in a TV show a few years back. I'm fairly certain it had a fantasy/medieval setting; my first guess was Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones. But all my Google search results, even with lots of variations (e.g. pieces instead of pawns, end instead of edge) have turned up nothing.

I often remember hearing things that I actually read, so it's possible it's from a book.

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    Sounds like something that Kapela would say in Alan Moore's Top Ten comic (issue 8, I believe). He's a player in the "great game", the chessboard in the sky, and he's dying. I'd re-read it to check, but my copy is packed away at the moment. – Mark Thompson Mar 25 '15 at 8:00
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    Kinda sounds like something from Blade Runner. It's not, but it kinda sounds like it. – Daft Mar 25 '15 at 15:48
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    "We're pawns on the chess table. Pawns hop around the board in complete ignorance of what's going on.... The game is too big and complicated for pawns." Don's Nam by Franklin Rast, p. 145 I really doubt this is it, but thought I'd suggest it just in case. – Justin Greer Mar 25 '15 at 18:02
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    @JustinGreer: I don't think that's it either, but thanks anyways. Even if nothing comes of this question, at least there will be some good chess quotes. – JCKE Mar 25 '15 at 18:55
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    Interestingly, this is also reminiscent of a quote by physicist Richard Feynman. – Era Aug 1 '16 at 16:05

I wonder if it is from Sheri Tepper's 'The True Game', where the people are the pieces, each with powers/rules, and game against each other. I don't have a copy with me to check for you, but if not, I still recommend it as a good read.

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    This is really low quality unless you back it up with references, establishing that this is in fact the correct answer – Aegon Aug 1 '16 at 11:45
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    @Aegon: I wouldn’t say it’s particularly low quality. There’s enough detail to justify it as a possibility, and allow others to check. – Paul D. Waite Aug 1 '16 at 11:57

Found a couple of contenders. But don't seem to be the right subject matter.

Darwin's Bass: The Evolutionary Psychology of Fishing Man

We are but pawns in some great unknowable game.

Birch Shadow of The Cat: When Dark Forces Awaken, a Magician and his Pupil

We are but pawns in a universal game of chess


It could possibly from David Edding's "Belgariad". The protagonist is often reminded of the fact they they are just pieces of a much larger game and the books are even named after chess moves.

  • The series name is "Belgariad" (the main character is initially called "Garion" and later "Belgarion", which may be the source of your confusion). It's been a long while since I read these books, so I can't rule it out, but I don't remember anything like the quote in the question being in them. You're right that it would fit thematically, though. – Jules Jun 15 '17 at 21:29
  • @Jules The thought first occurs to Garion in Vo Mimbre in the throneroom the first time he's there. Don't think it ever says chess or pawn, but he does picture the two prophecies playing a great game. page 123 – eshier Oct 31 '17 at 1:17

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