Book Review: Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee (Three Stars)


Book Review: Raven Strategem (The Machineries of Empire #2) by Yoon Ha Lee

(Three Stars)

“I would like to think that it’s possibly to construct a society where our orders don’t involve slaughtering our own people.”

Another masterful space opera set in the universe of the hexarchate featuring the four-hundred-year-old revenant of Shous Jedao. Readers unfamiliar with the hexarchate would profit by reading Ninefox Gambit first, however Strategem fills background as needed as the story develops.

“Immortality didn’t turn you into a monster. It merely showed what kind of monster you already were.” “Would it be such an evil thing to learn?”

Strategem features a Byzantine web of factions and players alternately attacking and defending each other. Corruption and betrayal are givens. Readers must sort the good from the bad for themselves.

“Never ascribe to irrational benevolence what selfishness will explain.”

What’s not to like? Several things. Yoon uses plural person pronouns–them and their–to designate individuals indeterminate gender, contradicting hundreds of years of English usage and forcing the reader to determine what the author means. It destroys the flow and spell of the story. Pointless gay incest pornography.

“There was no such thing as a routine battle.”

The hexarch subplots lack the narrative power of the Jedao passages. The text tends toward wordiness; a hundred pages edited out would have tightened the story.

“Help me never forget that it’s people that we send out to die.”

(2018 Hugo Award novel finalist)