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Raven Stratagem

(The Machineries of Empire #2)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  4,367 ratings  ·  573 reviews
Captain Kel Cheris is possessed by a long-dead traitor general. Together they must face the rivalries of the hexarchate and a potentially devastating invasion.

When the hexarchate's gifted young captain Kel Cheris summoned the ghost of the long-dead General Shuos Jedao to help her put down a rebellion, she didn't reckon on his breaking free of centuries of imprisonment – an
Paperback, 355 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Solaris
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Rick Boardman Yeah. Book 1 contains a great deal of context for 2.

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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,367 ratings  ·  573 reviews

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May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Re-read 4/10/18:

I have no complaints about my previous review. :) I enjoyed it just as much and just want to add one thing:

Original review:

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

I think it's safe to say that I'm a fanboy of this writer. I was blown away by the flashy greatness of the first novel, the quantum-perception nature of a whole society versus other whole societies, and especially the absolute craziness of having an undead general in your brain to help y
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this significantly more than the first installment. It may have been a combination of listening to it on audio and it being much more character focused. I do still find myself not following the plot at points and losing interest, but not as much as book 1.
4ish stars.

An improvement in all areas on the already impressive Ninefox Gambit, reading this makes me glad I gave a second chance to NG. The POV characters are much more interesting and relevant, the pacing is much more consistent and the prose is just as military-grade immaculate.

This is expansive, unprecedented military space opera done right. If that sounds like your jam, go ahead and spread it on thick. If you're like me and feel intimidated or if it just isn't your preferred genre, give it
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Extended Review at

I must admit I was shocked and a little disappointed when I got through the first chapter of Raven Stratagem. Not because it was bad, mind you; it was just that my memory of the first chapter of Ninefox Gambit – which unceremoniously barrel kicks you into a huge flaming pit of WHAT-THE-F***-IS-THIS – was still fresh in my mind nearly a year later. Compared to that, the kickoff for Raven Stratagem is just so damned conventional: setup and
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
My Video Review

Woah! I did not expect this to be such an easy read after my experience with the first book. You can jump straight back into the world with ease. His one has more of a focus on characters which lessened the confusing aspects of the first book for me. I did tend to lose my bearings sometimes during battle scenes, but otherwise I really enjoyed this a lot! I liked the representation of different people and how diversity and fluidity is the norm. There is
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A terrific space opera from an emerging talent who is already in the running in this year’s Hugo Awards for the first entry in this trilogy, Ninefox Gambit. I will have to go back and read that, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity of supping on this one through Netgalley. I had to catch up fast on the setting here, a large interstellar system of planets with faster-than-light travel and governed by six factions, the Hexarchate. Each group of the ruling confederate has areas of specialty in the ...more
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After the events of Ninefox Gambit, the undead and possibly mad general Shuos Jedao is free and possessing the body of Kel Cheris. Rather than immediately seek revenge on the hexarchs for his time in the black cradle, Jedao takes a Kel Swarm and leads it in a defense of the hexarchate against an incursion of the Hafn. Meanwhile the Shuos hexarch Mikodez watches in horror as the other hexarchs make a bid for immortality, condemning the hexarchate to a potential eternal rule of their insanity.

It feels like all I've done since Ninefox Gambit came out is try and convince people to read it, and now I have another weapon to use in my battle against those who resist my will. Read Ninefox Gambit because then you get to read the sequel. And trust me, you want to read the sequel.

In what has already been a year of fantastic books for me Raven Stratagem is the best one yet. It takes everything I loved about Ninefox Gambit and just makes it even better. It also does what the very best sequels d
Aug 13, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: owned-to-read

Have you ever read a series that is so bizarre and yet so fulfilling? Mine is Machineries of Empire. The first book, Ninefox Gambit, for me was one of the best reads of 2017. It was so refreshing, confusing, and engaging at the same time. The universe was as weird or even weirder than Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought. Calendars and maths as belief system/technology/weapon? I have never read anything like it.

And the characters, oh my gosh, I love the characters and the dialogues! Even in this seco
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ninefox Gambit was one of the best books I read in 2016. Raven Stratagem might be even better. This whole series is utterly, gloriously, astoundingly brilliant.

Welcome to the world of the hexarchate, where total participation in rigid ritual not only keeps control of the population; it also warps the topology of reality to create "exotic effects" that keeps the hexarchate in power. The hexarchate is ruled by six factions: the Rahal, who make the rules; the Vidona, who enforce them with tortur
I read through to the end of chapter 4 in this one (about 14% of the book) and I just wasn't into it. I knew from having already read the first in the series that it would probably take a lot for this to really draw me in, but sadly it just wasn't doing so and although I know many who love this book and series, I just don't think this sort of SF works for me personally. I like knowing where I stand as I read and with this series I constantly feel like I'm not sure what's happening or why or who' ...more
Second read attempt 6/2018
Read it a year later and liked it much more. You can find my review of this book and Revenant Gun here:

First read attempt 6/2017
DNF'd at 50%

Maybe I'll try rereading this series in the future but for now, I just can't get into it. I know it is me and not the book because so many people love this book. The part I loved about Ninefox Gambit was removed in Raven Stratagem and other points of view were added. These points of view are
It's difficult for me to put into words how much I love this book. Or this series. Just the fact that I can't tell which one of the two books I like the most is something, since I could always rank my favorites.
Not this time.

The only thing I liked less in this book is that it had less Jedao. I'd read about Jedao doing basically anything, but on the other hand, this book had Mikodez, Khiruev and even a chapter in Kujen's point of view - which was, as I expected, painful to read. It's not easy to
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Holy crap. The last half of this book was so surprisingly good. The characters really drove it home for me.
Executive Summary: I struggled a bit to get into this one at the start, but once I finally got my bearing back I enjoyed it a lot more. ★★★☆.

Audiobook: This one is a hard series for audio in my opinion. Nothing against Emily Woo Zeller who I think does a fine job narrating, it's just that there is so much going on, I find myself wishing I could go back and reread parts, something I find very hard to do in audio. Your mileage may vary, but this is definitely not for people newer to audiobooks in
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a debut Ninefox Gambit couldn’t have been much better. Dropping the reader right into a complex world without any type of cheat sheet it managed to combine some first class world building with a tight and focused story. Kel Cheris, with the insane undead general Shuos Jedao in her mind, faced off against the heresy threatening the Hexarchate while at the same time being one of the main threats to the Hexarchate. It was my favorite kind of sci-fi, full of big alien ideas and smart enough to pu ...more
It's funny. I could blink and wave my hands and say 'yeah, great sequel. Pacing is a bit off, but it's entertaining. The Shuos amuse me'. Or I could take a deep breath and start talking about themes, but then I'd give in to the floods of feelings that would wash me away.

As with Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee has done something special, wrapped in layer upon layer of distraction. While there's plenty of meditation on the mechanisms of politics and control, this is an unabashed call to examine your c
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
3.5 stars
I didn't feel comfortable rounding the GR rating up to 4 stars, so even if 3 stars looks a bit low, it'll have to do. The first book got a strong 4 from me.

Unlike with the first book, this time I liked the last 100 pages the most. The rest of the book felt a bit drawn out to me, even though I did enjoy reading chapters from the POVs of different characters from different places than just the main spaceship swarm.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quite a different feel from the first book- which has its pros and cons. I rather liked the challenges of the first book. There are fewer in this book, but there's still plenty going on. Some nice twists.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-my-best-of
No as perfect as the first book in the series, but still a most wonderful reading experience. This trilogy feels like the pinnacle of the entire evolution of space opera subgenre. Everything is interwoven together in the most incredibile ways: spectacular space travel, heart stopping military battles, complex political machinations and espionage, very interesting exploration of identity and gender, great mathematical concepts, unusual religious ideas and a novel take on the image of the Other.
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a brain
Review first published on The Curious SFF Reader

It hasn’t even been a year since Ninefox Gambit came out and I already read it twice. The first installment in Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire is brilliant, full of amazing ideas, original worldbuilding and gorgeous writing. It was even better as a re-read and let’s just say that I was extremely eager to get my hands on its sequel Raven Stratagem.

I am easily disappointed by sequels, usually I tend to enjoy first books more because they are the
I spent a lot of book one wondering what the heck was happening. This book was a lot less confusing, though I still spent parts reading Yoon Ha Lee's words and thinking to myself, "just keep reading; this will eventually make sense!"
There is something about this crazy series that I just love. Where else can one come across the phrase " calendrical warfare"? And have revenants, math prodigies among a culture where math is a huge deal, fantastic names for the warships, servitors....I could just ke
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, owned
*draws hearts around the book*

4.5 stars, all the feels, I'll write a proper(ish) review later, but for now: what an accomplished, refreshing, profoundly readable novel. It answers a lot of my questions from volume 1 and it seems impossible not to care about these characters.

The book pulls off some amazing feats and I can't wait for the conclusion.


As usual, when I encounter a book I really love, I find it difficult to compose my thoughts into a single cohesive review, particularly since I don
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites, sf-f
Middle volumes are notoriously difficult, representing a literary quicksand that has bogged down many an excellent writer (think Ann Leckie and her desultory micro-focus follow-up to the phenomenal Ancillary Justice).

Yes, it is an unfair comparison, as Yoon Ha Lee and Ann Leckie are poles apart as writers – but both deal in that Golden Age SF trope, the Grand Space Opera. And what the former has achieved with Raven Stratagem is a truly remarkable feat: one of the best middle volumes I have ever
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Y'all have no idea how much it physically pains me to give this book such a low rating but - in light of the utter masterpiece of the first book - I feel so let down by this sequel.

I'm going to give myself some time to mull it over before I write a review but,'s not looking great, kids...
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, scifi
I read Ninefox Gambit more than two years ago, so was concerned that I would struggle to follow ‘Raven Stratagem’. Thankfully, the 'Machineries of Empire' series is gentler with the reader than Terra Ignota. In fact, I was reminded of Ancillary Justice and sequels, another sci-fi trilogy with excellent world building and dialogue set in a predominantly military context. A great strength that both share is that their plots are, essentially, office politics writ interstellar. The details of each s ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
While I enjoyed Ninefox Gambit, I lost quite a bit of interest in the story in Raven Stratagem, and didn't end up finishing it. While the first novel focused on the excellent world building and advanced mathematics used to govern its laws, the second book emphasized Jedeo's increasing control over Kel's consciousness and the steps Jedeo is taking to increase his level of control.

While the cast expands and measures are taken to try and limit Jedeo's plans, I felt that the motivations of these sid
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book's ending feels like the close of a duology, if not for a few loose ends that are left hanging unaddressed. I'm not surprised that the next book doesn't pick up immediately- I think I might give the series some time to rest before I pick up the next one too. These books are intricate and thought-provoking, I can already tell they will be a pleasure to return to in the future.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Somehow I am doomed to never write a good review for this book -- even though I've read it twice now. Sigh.

In short: I enjoy this entire series. The way the cultures play with reality, and the way reality depends on a sort of mass hallucination enforced by remembrances and adherence to strict calendars and belief systems fascinate me. And speaking of reality, watch for all the ways that people may or may not be quite what they seem on the surface. We often don't know what gender a person's brain
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SciFi and Fantasy...: Machineries of Empire Buddy Read 182 257 Sep 27, 2018 03:51PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Raven Stratagem [Apr 2, 2018] 35 42 Jun 10, 2018 03:36AM  
BooktubeSFF Awards: Raven Strategem Readalong 4 44 May 08, 2018 12:57AM  
The Not a Book Cl...: RS: General Discussion (No Spoilers) 5 27 Jun 18, 2017 09:46PM  
  • A Series of Steaks
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  • Provenance
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  • And Then There Were [N-One]
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  • On a Red Station, Drifting
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  • After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)
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  • Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3)
  • Europe at Midnight
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  • Neptune's Brood (Freyaverse #2)
Yoon Ha Lee is an American science fiction writer born on January 26, 1979 in Houston, Texas. His first published story, “The Hundredth Question,” appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1999; since then, over two dozen further stories have appeared. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Other books in the series

The Machineries of Empire (3 books)
  • Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1)
  • Revenant Gun (The Machineries of Empire, #3)
“I’m not a linguist, but do you ever think there’s something wrong with the things we do and don’t have words for?” 9 likes
“Immortality didn’t turn you into a monster. It merely showed you what kind of monster you already were.” 5 likes
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