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Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee. Book Review

May 5, 2018

Revanant gun

With the hexarchate fractured, it is time for those left to regroup and attempt to rebuild their world. Or conquer it.

When Shuos Jedao comes to, it is only with his memories as a teenager cadet intact, and not as the unsurpassed tactician, the notorious Immolation Fox, once responsible for mass genocide. Yet the tyrant, Hexarch Nirai Kujen is relying on him to apply his skills as a great general to clear a path to Kujen’s ascendency as a supreme ruler.

Worse still Jedao must pit himself against someone who knows his own mind better than he does.

This last in the Machineries of the Empire series signals a change of pace. There are still the Machiavellian conspiracies and epic space battles, but this is an in-depth examination of the internal emotional landscape of Jedao, rich with intense desire, intrigues, countermoves and betrayals.

All this is achieved in a very novel way, through not only the newly conscious Jedao as he slowly connects with what he would become, but also by following Kel Cheris, a military commander with mathematical capabilities, who has been imbued with everything that was Jedao before he was captured, executed and his mind contained within the black cradle by Kel Command. This thought-provoking and novel approach to backstory in no way slows the pace, cranking up the sense of anticipation of the outcome, which once again leaves you hanging in there right up to the last minute.

Cheris’s relationship she built up with the servitors (service AIs who move around in the background largely unnoticed) in the previous book Raven Stratagem is developed further and is very much an integral part of the plot. The spaceships, called moths, which are part organic and sentient also play an important role this time as more than simple, obedient tools of war.

The new Jedao might be finding his way in this unforgiving world, but as it is one of gender fluidity, the essence of relationships is stripped down to the core, revealing Jedao at his most raw and vulnerable.

What happens when Jedao’s older self, combined with Cheris’s knowledge, and the new Jedao having to learn on the fly, come up against one another is truly fascinating.

Although, apparently, the last in the series, there is a potential relationship in here, revealed right at the end which is tantalising to say the least and begging to be taken further. If I could put such a request to the author.

Having finished Revenant Gun I went back into the first book Ninefox Gambit and began to see all sorts of previously unappreciated nuances fall into place that, without my current knowledge, I had not fully appreciated at the time. This enriched re-reading experience makes me think this series just has to become a long-term classic, due to the sheer breadth of possibility this intricate world provides. Yoon Ha Lee has certainly become an author whose every new book will be something I must have on my bookshelf.

Revenant Gun was courtesy of Solaris.

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