Book Review: Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Revenant Gun 1

Synopsis: When Shuos Jedao wakes up for the first time, several things go wrong. His few memories tell him that he’s a seventeen-year-old cadet–but his body belongs to a man decades older.  Hexarch Nirai Kujen orders Jedao to reconquer the fractured hexarchate on his behalf even though Jedao has no memory of ever being a soldier, let alone a general.  Surely a knack for video games doesn’t qualify you to take charge of an army?

Soon Jedao learns the situation is even worse.  The Kel soldiers under his command may be compelled to obey him, but they hate him thanks to a massacre he can’t remember committing.  Kujen’s friendliness can’t hide the fact that he’s a tyrant.  And what’s worse, Jedao and Kujen are being hunted by an enemy who knows more about Jedao and his crimes than he does himself…

Author: Yoon Ha Lee

Title: Revenant Gun

Publisher: Solaris

Date: 2018

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Ninefox Gambit | Raven Stratagem

Every time I read a series, I say each book is better than the last. The same is true for Revenant Gun: personally, it was the strongest book of the trilogy. But this time, I know my reasoning behind that feeling – I actually understood what was going on from the very beginning.

I don’t know if that is due to having only just read the second book, my understanding of the world has developed or it is written with more clarity. Understanding definitely is key to enjoying a book.

Not having to figure out what on earth was going on also meant that I found this book hilarious! The commentary of the narrators inserted so much humour that it was making me laugh out loud. There was a perfect balance of humour and tension, resulting in a gripping book that I couldn’t put down.

So he also knew how to use a handgun. Useful, if disconcerting. He hoped he didn’t have to reload the damn thing in a hurry.

The characters have always made these books for me (mainly because I hadn’t been able to figure out the plot of the previous books). What I particularly enjoy is that, while the same characters are present, each book allows someone else to have their turn in the spotlight.

This time, Brezan and Cheris take back seats (despite one plotting an assassination and one becoming a ruler).

The narration instead follows a (new yet old) Jedao and Protector-General Inesser.

Jedao has been brought back (again), only this time, his memories go as far as his seventeen-year-old self and that is it. His body bears scars and talents that he has no idea how he achieved and finding out his backstory (the whole mass-murderer-thing) doesn’t sit too well.

While Jedao has never been black and white, there was a true innocence about his character, along with a determination to set things right and a desire to find companionship in a world set against him. He was such a complex and intricate character: possibly one of my favourite character constructs ever.

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Inesser is likeable enough: she challenges Brezan but then is able to work with him to try and secure their universe against the threat that Jedao ultimately poses, even if he is an unwilling pawn.

Yoon Ha Lee writes characters that really come to life. I think the language (there is a lot of swearing) helps do that: they are in a stressful situation, it’s natural to react like that and he doesn’t shy away from it. Even the “villains” of the books are written in such detail that it’s impossible not to love them as much as the heroes.

As mentioned, I was gripped. There are threats and tension from the beginning, but the interwoven humour stopped it from ever being heavy. I was genuinely entertained the entire way through and couldn’t put it down.

Reading on the train means I often don’t fancy more when I get home. I was reading this until late in the night and then getting up early so I could finish it. A strong sign of how much I enjoyed this?

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