Book Review: Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

Raven Stratagem 1

Synopsis: War. Heresy. Madness. 

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies and resurrected by the hexarchate to put down a heretical insurrection, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh incursion by the enemy Hafn, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, appears able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev – or Brezan – trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Author: Yoon Ha Lee

Title: Raven Statagem

Publisher: Solaris

Date: 2017

Raven Stratagem 2

Ninefox Gambit

Although Ninefox Gambit made my head spin, I ultimately enjoyed it. Enough, at least, to continue with the rest of the series.

Cheris is presumed dead, her body inhabited by the undead general, Jedao. He’s apparently after a new enemy, the Hafn, and hijacks an entire swarm in order to go after them.

Khiruev was the highest in command until Jedao came along. After attempting to thwart the madman, she accepts her fate and starts to feel loyalty towards Jedao. Khiruev was a strong character: she risks everything to try and stop the threat, then risks everything to help. If you want a woman on your side, Khiruev is the one: she certainly commits to the cause.

Not everyone is controlled by form formation though. Brezan resists and tries to stop Jedao. He’s both kicked out from the swarm and promoted far beyond his comfort in order to stop Jedao. Brezan felt the most human to me: he is deeply uncomfortable with the situation and determined to make things right.

“They booted me because I’m working for the Shuos. I suggest you let me report before I kill you with my belt buckle.” Stupid threat, but he couldn’t think of a better one.

Mikodez was my favourite. He’s a politician (for lack of a better way of describing him) but you seem him love and loss, function the way an over-worked politician would and have a sense of humour. You experience Mikodez’ emotions, especially when the stakes are high.

It was towards the end when an event reveals how human Mikodez’ emotions are that made me realise that’s lacking from the other characters: their Kel instinct means you never truly know what they are feeling. It’s why connecting with them was challenging.

I made a big mistake with the second book: I left it too long after reading the first to remember the intricacies of how this world worked. It meant that I spent a good chunk of the first half of Raven’s Stratagem wondering what on earth (or not, as the point might be) was going on.

Raven Stratagem 3

That meant the second half was stronger as I felt the stories were coming together, the characters interacting and the pace picking up. I understood what was going on, who was where and whose loyalty belonged to who.

During the first half, however, the story felt fragmented: there was different story arcs taking place as the characters developed, but I couldn’t connect them as a whole; I didn’t have the sense of the full story.

This is a really hard review to write because I was lost for quite a lot of the book. When the stories started entwining, however, I really enjoyed it. Part of me guessed the twist, but I wasn’t certain; it wasn’t a surprise, but I wouldn’t have put money on it happening either.

The characters grow on you, despite the lack of emotions, and there is so much going on that you do get absorbed. I’d say the pace and tension felt quite low for the first half, but then pick up nicely in the second half.

My only suggestion would be make sure you read the series close together.

Goodreads | Amazon


Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Bloglovin’

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s