The storyline was something very different for me. The basic plot is that life is simply a chess match. Those that I would consider "noblemen" were called Gamesmen and had specific powers related to their position in The Game. The peasant-type characters were called Pawns and were subject to the will of the Gamesmen and could be sacrificed for the benefit of the play if necessary.
The protagonist, Peter, is a 15 year-old boy who's powers are just beginning to manifest due to the dire circumstances he finds himself in.
This book is more fantasy than science fiction and I'm not sure that it strictly meets the guidelines of the SF reading challenge but it was a recommendation and I went with it. The writing is well-done and the story is interesting and different.