Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Black Tides of Heaven

(Tensorate #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  6,879 ratings  ·  1,326 reviews
The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of standalone introductions to JY Yang's Tensorate Series. For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the s
Paperback, 236 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Black Tides of Heaven, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lali While Allison is correct about the assignation of gender in this world, there is romance between people who choose to identify as male. So yes, there …moreWhile Allison is correct about the assignation of gender in this world, there is romance between people who choose to identify as male. So yes, there is gay romance.(less)
femme fantasy freak Short answer, yes.
Long answer: In this world, all kids are non-binary until confirmation when they get older. The main character, Akeha, is non-binary…more
Short answer, yes.
Long answer: In this world, all kids are non-binary until confirmation when they get older. The main character, Akeha, is non-binary in that they never think about their gender to the point that they’re shocked when their twin chooses to be a woman at confirmation. When they were young, they agreed never to go through confirmation. When Akeha finds that their sister has always known they were a girl, they’re surprised. Akeha ends up deciding to be a man, but there’s definitely this feeling that Akeha wanted to stay non-binary. Later, Akeha meets another person who uses masculine pronouns and chose to be a man at their confirmation, but never went to the people who help people’s bodies become a specific sex so they use masculine pronouns, but remain non-binary.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,879 ratings  ·  1,326 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)
2.5ish stars.

Innovative and compelling but also sort of claustrophobic and manic. There's some really cool world-building in the tiny bits and pieces it's detailed, but it's basically half the length of a novel, and there's only half the amount of world-building there needs to be in order to provide the bare minimum amount of context.

All the cool bits are casually breezed through in order to focus on the actual events, which end up being rushed and always unresolved. Again, in half a novel ther
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 3.5

The Black Tides of Heaven centers around a pair of twins, Mokoya & Akeha, as they navigate a complicated political landscape & constantly dodge the schemes set forth by their mother, the Protector.

It always excites me when I get the opportunity to read a fantasy story with nontraditional setting. Though this is only a novella, author J.Y. Yang manages to pack in rich cultural aspects, along with a magic system that reads like a more complex & spiritually oriented version of the
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Image result for jy yang

Solid world-building, character development and political intrigue in JY Yang's The Black Tides of Heaven. We follow the twin children of the Protector, Mokoya and Akeha, both referred to as 'they,' until they decide their gender. There was a fair bit of focus on their time as children. However, there were a number of big jumps in time that were jarring, I think, because they made me feel like I'd missed out on some important development. That said, the writing was good and there were some inter
K.J. Charles
Tremendous and highly original fantasy novella, one of a pair starting a series.

You know how loads of fantasy is set in a sort of not-Europe-but-really? This is set in a not-Asia, with Chinese, Japanese and Nepalese echoes rather than the standard German, Italian, Ruritanian. Beautifully delineated world, lovely social, political and magical development.

And the gender! Kids are all 'they' until they pick a gender, which they can do aged three or sixteen or never. A default they for everyone. W
James Chatham
Y'all, this book. It's difficult to put into words how amazing this novella is. Within it is an expertly crafted world, built subtly but convincingly, complex characters, political strife that actually feels important, and an interesting magic system. Through this novella, Yang explores gender and sexuality: people in this world are born without a gender, and are thus referred to with they/them pronouns until they "confirm" as male or female - or stay genderless. The two main characters are twin ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novella
This short little novella manages to tick a lot of my boxes: sociological worldbuilding, a focus on sibling relationships, interesting social structures, musings on gender, and a language that just transported me along.

This book focusses on Mokoya and Akeha, twin children of the ruler of their country, how they are used as pawns in their mothers power machinations but also how they find their agency in a world that does not want to give them any. While Mokoya develops rare prophetic powers their
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun and fast epic fantasy novella. Or is it SF? Regardless, there are great little tidbits and dense worldbuilding going on here and I had a pretty awesome time. I love detailed worldbuilding, but sometimes diving right into an assumed world only shown, rarely told, is its own joy.

Odd, no? But exposition CAN be quite comforting in a tale.

This doesn't have all that much of it, and that is fine except when it can get a bit overwhelming. The rest of the time, we have to just rely on the characters
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-fantasy
My Video Review:

Wow this was so good! I really liked the society and how everything was set up. Akeha was such a great character to read about, and I liked the dynamic between Akeha and Moko. Their abilities were awesome and I loved the magic system. The Slack was really cool and I liked that the twins could communicate through it instead of talking out loud when they wanted. Also, in this world, people do not immediately have a gender assigned to them. They confirm o
Matthew Quann
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, pretty-short
There's a lot of interesting ideas in J.Y Yang's debut, The Black Tides of Heaven, but they are rarely given the requisite time to breathe. This is, in part, due to the way that Yang has decided to roll out their Tensorate series. Instead of a novel, the series arrives on the scene in two novellas from's novella imprint (which I've previously enjoyed). So, for being a brief read, the book covers a lot more ground that it's modest page count would suggest.

The tale in The Black Tides of He
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent little novella. I read it all in one sitting. Even though it was short, the world building is rich. No words were wasted on infodumps, and the story and surrounding world was told organically.

The characters were wonderful. Akeha especially, experiences a lot of growth over the course of these chapters. I did not like him at first. I thought he was a little closed minded, childish, too dependent on his sister, but his story grew and really made you care for him.

The writing w
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Black Tides of Heaven is a beautiful story about twins, fate and finding your own path. It follows a young person trying to find his agency in a world that has always seen him as an afterthought, as someone unimportant and passive, and he decides to fight against that. It's also a story about the complexity of family ties.

JY Yang is now one of my favorite authors.
When I read their novelette Waiting on a Bright Moon earlier this year, I knew I had to try their novella series. And The Blac
Set in a richly imagined world, JY Yang’s first part in their Tensorate series is evocative, bold, and dreamlike. I wanted to be more emotionally wrapped up in the story, though, because I liked so many of the ideas so much, and I love when my head and my heart are equally engaged when I’m reading. But there’s plenty here to keep me wanting to learn more of what happens in the tumultuous Protectorate Yang created.


Can you go wrong with an Asian inspired fantasy?
I ask stupid questions sometimes.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like this before. It was fantastic.
Allison Hurd
This was truly delightful. I think the only issue I had was that it was abbreviated where it could have been made into a truly moving story if it had a little more flesh on its bones. It worked really well as is, but I think it could have been superlative with a little more space.

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The take on gender. Hard to miss and hard not to love. A culture that does not force gender, and even postpones
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommended to TL by: Ashley Marie
Eh, it was okay. The premise sounded great but overall was underwhelming and the writing was awkward (to me anyway). The powers and system behind them were interesting but not enough to interest me completely.

“The saying goes, ‘The black tides of heaven direct the courses of human lives.’ To which a wise teacher said, ‘But as with all waters, one can swim against the tide.'”

Welcome to a world of silkpunk, twin bonding and the Slack! This review is about J.Y. Neon Yang's 2017 novella The Black Tides of Heaven. Spoilers follow!

So What's It About?

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha wa
This novella isn't quite as intense or focused as the later books in the series, but I still thought it was wonderful. I highly recommend reading The Red Threads of Fortune as soon as you finish this one, as I think that provides the most complete narrative of Akeha and Mokoya's stories. ...more
Bridget Mckinney
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Listen. There's basically a 100% chance that anything Kate Elliott calls "effortlessly fascinating" is going to be wonderful, so it's no surprise that this pair of novellas by J.Y. Yang are pretty close to perfect. Yang has crafted a meticulously beautiful fantasy world that cleverly melds science and magic together with a central sibling relationship that sustains the heart of both books. Much will surely be made of Yang's treatment of gender and sexuality, and any accolades on that score are w ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This was exquisite.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What's more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother's Protectorate."

I was feeling a little too much reality in my end of year Asian focused reading and came across a review of th
Shaun Hutchinson
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored this. It was a wonderful story of learning who you are and embracing that person. The writing was superb, and I really enjoyed the way the author handled gender in the story. I'm already starting the next novella in the series. ...more
3-1/2 stars. And this rating definitely means "I liked it!"
Akeha and Mokoya are twins, the children of the Protector of their continent, born only so their mother could weasel out of a bargain. Despite their not-very-welcome origin and purpose in the world, they manage to become their own persons and determine their own directions, in entirely unexpected ways.
There is no good way to describe these novellas! Each story just throws the reader into a fully-constructed world and mythology, fol
Elle (ellexamines)
Sep 08, 2017 marked it as on-my-shelf
Recommended to Elle by: Acqua
shoutout to the nicest person on Goodreads for sending me her arc of part of this series which I have been excited to read for months and now must - gasp - actually read ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy, 2020
This is one of the first novels I can recall reading where the author uses the pronoun ‘they’ to indicate non-gender specificity. At first I found this quite disconcerting, but once you’ve wrapped your mind around it, it becomes just another novum in a fantasy novel.

Speaking about novums: On the first page, when Head Abbot Sung of the Grand Monastery begins climbing the 800 stairs to the Great High Palace of the Protectorate, Yang remarks: “Tradition dictated that the journey to the palace be co
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. Sadly, I didn't love this one as much as I had expected. The beginning is very strong: lovely prose, evocative descriptions of an inventive fantasy landscape, twins who are very connected but also very different from each other: it had great potential.

Occasionally, the novella reclaims these early qualities for a beautiful sentence or two. But it felt as if it was only a novella because the author had been too lazy/uninterested in several important plot and character developments to
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This book is scheduled to be released on September 26, 2017, in conjunction with its companion novel, The Red Threads of Fortune . The author has stated that both are considered standalone novellas. This is a review of the ARC, received courtesy of Tor in exchange for an honest review.

My review of The Red Threads of Fortune can be found here.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This series hooked me in right from the synopsis:
- two novellas
- written by a self
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This fantasy novella is entertaining enough for its brief length, and shows some originality, but it fails to explore its most interesting ideas, and the character development and worldbuilding – while serviceable – are not particularly deep.

In a quasi-Asian world, a Protector rules over not-China with an iron fist. The first half of the book follows the Protector’s youngest children, twins Akeha and Mokoya, through their childhood, discovery of their magical powers and coming-of-age, while in t
leo | 飛べ
The saying goes, ‘The black tides of heaven direct the courses of human lives.’ To which a wise teacher said, ‘But as with all waters, one can swim against the tide.

CW: violence, death of a loved one, death of an animal (well, a fictional one but you never know), bombing.

Set in The Protectorate an East-Asia inspired world, The Black Tides of Heaven is a silkpunk* novella that follows Akeha and Mokoya, twin children of the ruler of the land, The Protector, as they navigate through adu
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Akeha and Mokoya are the twin main characters of this story. They are the children of the Protector, a lady who holds sway over politics and much more in the land where they live, but their mother is scheming and manipulative and not someone to cross. As children they are given into the care of the Great Monastery and they're raised for most of their young lives there. Whilst they live there Mokoya discovers they have prophetic abilities, and together the twins wonder how to hide this so their m ...more
I was really impressed with J.Y. Yang's The Black Tides of Heaven. This was a novella that felt like reading an entire novel because of everything that it covered. The world building was phenomenal, what they did with gender in this was fantastic, especially the entire coronation of picking the gender. I love books that are about siblings and that is one main reason why I loved this story. I like twin stories even more, so this book really delivered for me. A great little plot, an amazing world ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
SciFi and Fantasy...: Series: Tensorate by JY Yang ("The Black Tides of Heaven") 137 196 Sep 14, 2019 09:56PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Taste of Honey (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #2)
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, #1)
  • The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
  • Passing Strange
  • The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain, #1)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Fatma el-Sha’arawi, #2)
  • Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology, #1)
  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2)
  • The Black God's Drums
  • A Dead Djinn in Cairo (Fatma el-Sha’arawi, #1)
  • Sisters of the Vast Black
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1)
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #1)
  • Drowned Country (The Greenhollow Duology, #2)
  • Miranda in Milan
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts
See similar books…
Neon Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, The Descent of Monsters and The Ascent to Godhood). Their work has been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Lambda Literary and Locus awards, while the Tensorate novellas were a Tiptree honoree in 2018. They have over two dozen works of short fict ...more

Other books in the series

Tensorate (4 books)
  • The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2)
  • The Descent of Monsters (Tensorate, #3)
  • The Ascent to Godhood (Tensorate, #4)

Related Articles

Readers have a lot to look forward to this year! Just feast your eyes upon all of these debut books to check out and emerging authors to...
49 likes · 27 comments
“The saying goes, ‘The black tides of heaven direct the courses of human lives.’ To which a wise teacher said, ‘But as with all waters, one can swim against the tide.” 15 likes
“With all the horrors in the world, it was easy to forget there were wonders too.” 9 likes
More quotes…