This is the third (maybe final?) novel in the Machineries of Empire series. It follows on roughly 10 years after the events in Raven Stratagem. Cheris-Jedao has disappeared, leaving Brezan and Mikodez to create a new structure to their society. However, Kujen has other tricks up his sleeve, including another Jedao!
So explaining the plot of this is super hard, as it would be super spoilery. However, I think the novel does a reasonable job of wrapping up a lot of the reasons why things happened in the Hexarchate. And somewhat unsurprising, it was because of Kujen. What was enjoyable was how this was unravelled and relayed to us – mostly by a servitor named Hemiola. I always liked the servitors and was pleased how one was a main character in this novel.
I also still love the universe itself, it’s so interesting and strange and wonderful. I love the military formalness of the Kel. I love the weird exotic weapons effects. It is just such a wonderful place to spend some time in.
I had a few small problems though. And to be fair, I have a massive head cold which may have impacted my ability to recall certain events. It was the first novel I’ve read where I really struggled at the beginning to remember who some of the characters were from the previous novels. I think this meant that I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of the politics of the situation like I had in previous novels. I think it would be useful to read the second book again just to get back into the swing of things.
And while I enjoyed the story, I felt it was slightly more fragmented and clunky than the first two. There was either two much back and forth between times or just too much happening without great effect. A lot of it was purposeful but still felt clunky. Maybe too much exposition rather than revealing it strategically as part of the story. It was still pretty good, but it just wasn’t as slick as the first two books.
I don’t know if it the final book – but it felt like it wrapped up a lot of the main issues of the first two. Perhaps there will be some more fighting some of the neighbouring threats or dealing with the servitors. It is a very fun and interesting universe, so I wouldn’t mind seeing more. However, I almost don’t want to see more as I enjoyed Cheris-Jedao so much. What a brilliant pairing. I almost wish there would be a film or TV series as that would be fascinating to see how they would make that visual.
The series also carries on with having a strong female cast, not just Cheris but others like General Issener. As well, non-binary characters like Brezner and Talaw.
Anyway, delightful series. I think I want to read it all again from beginning to end and see if it would change my perception of the last novel. However, I have a massive stack of other books to read, so maybe not right now!