This is another book I’m reading to get to the Hugo-nominated one, but I was not ready for this one.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, is centered on Cheris of the Kel faction, a disgraced captain, who is pretty good at mathematics. She is entirely unprepared to be matched with an undead, genocidal general, who is paired with her to put down the latest hearsay to rise up against the hexarchate. Little does she realize the larger web she is being drawn into…
This book was insane. A true space opera in the traditional sense, with strong military sci-fi elements. There was a lot of conversation going and sporadic action and violence, but Lee is a true master of weaving tension through and through. The political intrigue was top notch and a world-class lesson in and of itself. The castes and various factions are really interesting and enjoyed the sprinkling of other POVs throughout this novel. The structure of the novel itself may leave more traditional readers in the dust, but I found it no more difficult then N.K. Jemisin’s work.
This book takes space opera and even military sci-fi to the next level. I was following humanity, but they often felt more alien than familiar. This also led to some issues with how almost impenetrable some of the space combat was. The idea of an entire empire built around mathematics and calendars is interesting, once you get past the whole “numbers” part. Not entirely sure if everything worked for me, even with this distance from it, but then I am okay with that. It shows a truly imaginative flair and breathing new life into what some critics describe as the “soap opera” of the science fiction genre. This book is the farthest thing from a melodrama.
I cannot wait to see what the next book unpacks, the third one is out as well, which means if the second one only pushes forward, I’m in for a full trilogy.