The first installment of the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate.
To win an impossible war, Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.
Captain Kel Cheris of the Hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris' career isn't the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the Hexarchate itself might be next. Cheris' best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress. The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao - because she might be his next victim.
©2016 Yoon Ha Lee (P)2016 Recorded Books
One of the best creative and compelling sci-fi books to come out in 2016. Right from the get go the reader is immersed in a compelling, original universe where faith can be measured and used by the Hextarcate's official calendar and it's soldier's loyalties are 'improved' by formation instinct. This is a world and a story that feels fresh and very well thought out. Lee does not talk down to the reader and the story benefits from it. A must read.
"Sails similar waters to the Ancillary series"
I had to re-listen to this book to figure out whether I liked it or not (I was already impressed by the language and characters).
That sounds like faint praise but for me it means that the book was complex enough that I needed another go round to understand everything.
It's definitely worth a listen if you like the Ancillary books (although AI plays a very minor role).
"Romances of the three kingdoms and Discrete mathematics had a baby"
Like an ancient Chinese military history set in a universe driven by laser weapons, endless war, geometric religious orientation, heresy and plots within plots. Buckle up kiddos, it's a wild ride
"Under Developed, but readable"
I'd develop the characters a little more fully, and spend a lot more time on the action sequences. It felt under played, like the battles were a nescience to the writer, and he really just wanted to get back to the interplay between the MC and Shadow General in her head. The whole book is rather vague, you need to quickly pick up what's going on. If you are going to use terms like, "Calendar" and make into some kind of society-wide mental and mathematical consensual reality engine that requires, the rigid mindsets of all the people under it to alter reality, leaving the reader to work that out on their own isn't something I would attempt.
Every author develops their skill as they produce more work. I think Yoon Ha Lee, has a lot of imagination, I like the concepts, and the structure of the story, but no pictures were painted in my mind, not of the characters, the ships, nothing. I would read from this writer again, but I might hold off for a few more novels.
I really didn't mind her at first, but as the novel went on she added a lot of whining, immature, tones, and excessive emotion to the characters. Cheris is supposed to be a warrior, not just some dumb grunt, but a Captain, but she acts like a frustrated ignorant child a lot. I don't think she comes off that way due to the writing, but rather due to Emily's telling of the story.
As it stands currently this wouldn't make a good movie. I could see someone taking the name, and basic characters and re-writing it to make a movie. The screenplay, however, would have to be vastly different than the novel.
For my tastes this novel was too vague to be really enjoyable. I found myself asking these questions. "What is a calendar, what do the moth battle ships look like, What the hell is up with the servitors, is the cylindrical rot a state of mind, or...and what's up with the plant based weapons. Not to mention that it basically had two characters, or rather one, talking to her self and her invisible friend.I have been told that in order to really understand this book, and enjoy it, you need to read it twice. Maybe I'm lazy, but if a writer can't make me love their novel in the first read, there isn't going to be a second.
i loved yoon ha lee since i listened to battle of candle arc at clarkesworld. i love what lee has done here to continue this incredibly inventive science fiction/fantasy story. the calendrical warfare is original and evocative. and i love the twists and turns and layers within layers.
gets you hooked quick and keeps you throughout the book! cant wait for next book
"Magical mathematics, not mathematical magic"
but still a fun ride. the world is very new and fresh, but the warfare and math is spoken in more poetic terms that realistic terms. I wish the protagonist would protag more, and the ending and "twist" were obvious almost from the first "mysterious" dream sequence, but the pay off was worth the short coming. worth the read just for the unique philosophical stance.
"This audiobook makes me want to kel myself"
Get it KEL MYSELF—I'll see myself out now. Terrible puns aside, this book is really a mixed bag and would probably be awesome in print, so save your credits. In brief, this is an average or above average book worth reading, even through some awkward dialogue. If you really want to listen to great science fiction with a military theme pick up one of Jack Campbell's books instead.
I really loved the universe, it reminds me of Warhammer 40K. Epic space and ground combat, heresy, oppressively dogmatic and /mind controlling factions, servitor robots, etc. among other give off that Warhammer 40K vibe. There are six major factions in the Hexarchate, of which each has their own agenda. Then there are the sentient robotic servitors who have their own agenda. The best parts of the book are the interactions between captain Kel Cheris and Shuos Jedao, the insane ghost tactician attached to her. The cool universe and engaging interactions are big points for me, but there are some major problems.
The book has an unusually difficult learning curve, especially in the first hour. With any new universe the reader needs to learn the lingo, the land, the people, everything, and the author seems to go to lengths to make the language needlessly complicated. At the start of the story, Kel Cheris tells her companies to form the 'points van' formation. The author then explains that the points van formation is a wedge formation designed for penetration. Afterwards there was another name for barracks, and on and on. Sometimes a wedge formation can be a wedge formation and a barracks can be a barracks, there isn't a need to rename everything that readers can apply their previous knowledge to. Then there are the Kelendrecal technologies, which I still can't really tell you what they are. Kel this, kelendr that, kelendrical sword, just kel me and get it over with. The language makes the first hour of listening perhaps the worst of any audiobook I have ever listened to.
The importance of mathematics in the book is emphasized to a hilarious extent. However, the use of mathematics does not extend beyond a few catch phrases that an english major might learn in a basic linear algebra class. Roots, coefficients, diagonalization, skew, etc. Here are the essence of a some choice sentences: "Argh I can't solve for the coefficients. Did you try diagnalizing? Ha, she really is good at numbers!"
"Colonel, I don't understand why we are leaving a unit to die!!! It's the general's orders, and she is good with numbers. She is good with numbers, you say? Well, what a relief!!!"
I literally spit food out of my mouth when I heard this last one. He are some more classics "He looked up at the light, the coefficient of refractive index gave him a headache."
"He knows what a transcendental number is, I really should give the Kel more credit." Yes, in the future if someone knows the number Pi (a transcendental number), they are immediately considered much more intelligent. Is this centuries in the future or 1850's rural Mississippi? Ah who are we kidding, you'd still be considered intelligent in rural Mississippi if you know Pi.
This all cumulates to a key criticism: this book is labelled contemporary science fiction and there is very little science fiction about it. A key aspect of science fiction is the science, being able to extrapolate from our current level of science into a new, fantastic, and plausible direction. This book does not provide how we got from here to there, we are just there and how things work are never explained. Everything just magically works, all sides have their own technological magic. Their magic is not my magic, ergo heresy! This book is really a basic fantasy novel with a sci-fi wrapper over it.
Lastly the narrator does some hilarious male voices. There are a couple of voices that sound like someone is trying to sound like Yoda. Unintentionally hilarious. To be fair, with the large majority of characters being male it is probably very difficult for a female narrator to make convincing and distinctive voices for each.
"Outstanding Plot and Wonderful Narration"
Emily Woo Zeller's narration made the book come alive, she is a treasure. Only made better by a well-written and expertly plotted story.
A must-read for science fiction fans. The book is tightly plotted and intricate, dropping the reader right into an unfamiliar future, with any explanation and context shown in glimpses, bits, and gradually over time. As alien as the technology and society are, the humans are still human, enmeshed in intrigue and camaraderie, betrayal and power struggles. Though the book is short (under 400 pages), it has all the feel of a sweeping space opera, but in the vein of Herbert's Dune, with Machiavellian political maneuvering, and a dash of Starship Troopers or Forever War in a certain glee of military planning. This is the first in a series and though left in a cliffhanger, the story of the initial book is nicely wrapped up so you aren't left completely in exquisite anticipation. I cannot wait for the next entry.
"Really interesting and original dystopian sci-fi"
I really enjoyed this novel, both the story and the narration. It's not straight forward military sci-fi and not grand space opera but it's clever and captivating. Most of the criticisms seem to be that every detail of the universe isn't explained or that there are too many narrators but I liked this about it. I'll be getting the next instalment as soon as it's available.
Interesting and at times intriguing, but I never found myself caring about the characters or their struggles. Without that emotional investment, I don't find a book compelling.
"Go with the flow"
The novel was initially hard going but once I wrapped my mind around the concept that maths and beliefs can distort reality, really started to get into the story.
Narration was good but had to drop it down to X1.5 playback speed to understand the narrator.
"Poor, robotic narration"
I didn't think there was enough story here to justify a full-length novel, but I'd definitely check out Yoon Ha Lee's shorter fiction.
I would actively avoid other books by this narrator.
Military SF isn't quite my thing anyway. This hasn't put me off entirely, but it doesn't encourage me to explore further any time soon. It felt repetitive enough as it is.
No. I found her to be robotic and stilted in delivery, almost like she was reading this for the first time and never quite knew where it was going to go or what her inflection should be.
There was some interest in the relationship between the protagonist and the dead general inserted into her mind, but this was explored less than I would have expected.
"Brilliant, complex, advanced level scifi"
A wonderfully imagined world, interesting characters with fascinating discussion on ethics, strategy, society. The two main protagonists are both rich, three dimensional characters struggling realistically with the paths that they have chosen in a setting that they don't agree with, and several 'vignettes' provide great incite into the story with just the taste of other characters.
For someone used to reading Scifi, a delight, but I can imagine that, for one unused to holding so much unknown terminology at bay, this may be a difficult read. Terms are often delivered without immediate explanation, if ever explanation arrives, and so the reader is often left to feel how the world is rather than being provided a blueprint.
If youre happy to dive into a different world though, well recommended.
If this book doesn't win a Hugo I'll be very disappointed, don't read any reviews just buy it and listen.
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