Well, it’s probably safe to say that if you liked Ninefox Gambit and were like “what I’d really like, is more of that, but with more deception and explosions” that’s kind of what you got. Which is, of course, brilliant.
Raven Stratagem takes place right after the events at the end of Ninefox Gambit, where you might recall, Cheris and Jedao being blown up by the Hexarchate. However, we find out that somehow Jedao has escaped the attempted assassination but is now in complete control of Cheris’ body. Not ruining anything here (because its in the description), the 400-year-old-revenant-general has taken over a fleet!
Shenanigans ensue. More explosions! Space battles! Intrigue!
However, luckily, despite all the shenanigans, the fantastic and introspective dialogue between main characters is not lost. But this time they are between Jedao and General Kel Khiruev. There are other insightful moments with other characters as well, which were never frivolous and always seemed to lead to character insight, some furthering of the plot, or exploration of what the universe these books take place in.
The cover art, is again, beautiful
There are also a lot more characters, or at least more characters that you get to know better, with a huge variety of backgrounds and stories. Which was totally excellent and helps expand what we understand about the Hexarchate. I think as well, you get to now the Hexarch’s better and begin to see some of Jedao’s motivations. Like in the first book, the flaws in the system of control and exotic weaponry come at a tremendous cost. Maintaining order in this universe seems to mean that everyone can be used or abused at the whims of the Hexarchs.
There is also A HUGE PLOT TWIST, which I am desperate not to give away, in case you’re wondering why I am being a bit vague. I somewhat expected this from a couple of tells, but if you don’t pay attention (or its been awhile since you read the first book), you might be alL OH MY GOD about it when it happens. It happened to me just as I got to work *shakes fist*.
I’m also delighted that there’s another book (probably awhile away, as this one has just been released) but I am really enjoying the universe, the calendrical effects and just the ephemera of the universe – I like the symbols and superstitions and all the things that make it feel like it could be a real place. I also enjoyed finding out about some of the other factions in the book – like the Vidona and Andan. I loved the new characters and the old (okay, some of them are absolute bastards, so love is a strong word, loved reading about them is probably more accurate).
Anyway, like I said, if you liked the last book, you’re going to enjoy this one as well. And if you haven’t read it yet, put it on your list. If only because Yoon Ha Lee should be on July’s Science Fiction Double Feature.