A quick review of some twisty military sci-fi for adults, before Cybils middle grade spec fic takes over the blog as it has already, of course, taken over my reading. (Have you nominated yet? There are still a couple of days! I want more books to read!)
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Solaris, 2016.
Before I even started this book, I heard Renay and Ana discussing it on Fangirl Happy Hour. Renay had said that she worried when she started the book that she wouldn’t be smart enough for it, but that it turned out to be ok once she got into it. I kept this in mind as I started it, as I often feel like my brain is just too full to deal with really complex adult books. And it’s true – the introduction is intimidating, but once the flood of ideas of the initial chapters is past, this is fascinating military science fiction, with a strong focus on the characters involved.
Kel Cheris is a soldier in the Hexarchate, which uses a calendar with the power to impose order on the universe when used correctly. The warrior class, which Cheris is part of, as signified by the “Kel” in front of her name, is implanted with a formation instinct, making it easy for them to work together. But they are up against a very strong enemy, so heretical that the calendar doesn’t work the way it should. The only solution they can come up with is to implant Cheris with the consciousness of millennia-old General Shuos Jedao, the only undefeated general in the long history of the Hexarchate. The hitch – he’s insane, and his final move before he was immobilized and preserved was to slaughter two armies, including his own. Cheris, with a strong mathematical bent unusual with her military training, has a mind that will both complement Jedao’s, and hopefully be strong enough to resist going insane herself. The stakes build quickly and the tension stays high all through this tightly written novel. The sequel, The Raven Strategem, is already out (because I am really slow about getting to adult books even when they sound really good). If you enjoy books like Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, this is an obvious choice.
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