Phebe Knight is training to become a ballerina. At fifteen, she has never once questioned that this is the life she wants. But now, one year away from joining the Company, her mind begins to wander. She spends the summer with her father, who lives in Switzerland, in the hope that a change of scene will bring her focus back. Nikolai Kotalev is a sixteen-year-old chess champion who is looking for the chess teacher he needs: the legendary Stas Vlajnik. Nikolai’s attention never wanders.
Phebe and Nikola travel across Europe with Phebe’s father and his girlfriend, hunting for Stas in all the places where chess’s elegant patterns live. The Kings Are Already Here explores the limits of what one is willing to pay for perfection and beauty.