Monday, May 22, 2017

Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1), by Yoon Ha Lee (author), Emily Woo Zeller (narrator)

Recorded Books, June 2016

Captain Kel Cheris is disgraced, having won a battle against heretics using unconventional tactics. Her only chance at redemption is to retake the star fortress called the Fortress of Scattered Needles, recently captured by heretics.

She has a plan. It's a desparate plan, involving reviving an undead tactician who has never lost a battle, General Shuos Jedao. Of course, in his original life, Jedao went mad and wiped out two armies, one of them his own, and he's a famous traitor, but if Cheris didn't believe in taking risks, she wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.

What follows is a battle of wits not just against the enemy, but against her chosen ally, Jedao, and even against the high command of the Hexarchate she serves. Because as vital as it is to retake the Fortress of Scattered Needles, lest the Hexarchate itself fall, they are strangely reluctant to share with her vital information that could make the difference between victory and defeat. She's fighting blind, and her only real ally is Jedao.

Jedao might be mad.

Or Jedao might be perfectly sane, and have her own agenda.

There's lots of action here; it's a campaign to retake a captured fortress. There's also a carefully textured unfolding of the characters of Cheris, Jedao, and the nature of the Hexarchate itself. The technology here calls to mind Clarke's Third Law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," and at the end of this first book of the trilogy, I'm not at all clear on exactly what calendrical heresy consists of. That's not really the point, though. The real questions here are whose values will prevail, and how Cheris can decide who to trust.

The characters and the challenges completely pulled me in. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.