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Raven Stratagem

(The Machineries of Empire #2)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  6,799 ratings  ·  794 reviews
War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies as a weapon, 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 enemy incursion, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, is able to shake off
Kindle Edition, 290 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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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  6,799 ratings  ·  794 reviews

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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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
WARNING: SECOND BOOK SLUMP ALERT. I’m having flashbacks of the Ancillary series all over again. No, no, NO! You can’t make me relive that, you can’t, I won’t, NO!

Hey, hey, calm down there self, calm down, it’s not that bad. *pats self on back* There, there. Have a juice box. Pomegranate. Yummy. And good for prostate cancer. Maybe a cookie too. Yes, a cookie will make it all right. And remember, it’s just a book.

Whew, got a little nonplussed there. Funny word that, nonplussed, bit of an autoanton
Aug 13, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

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
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 of the three books I like the most is something, since before reading this series, I could always easily rank my favorites.

Raven Stratagem is as good as its predecessor, but very different from it, with a much wider focus that doesn't concentrate on only one battle. Which means that the clockwork efficiency the first book had in its pacing and plot is lost, but so much is gain
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
4.5 Stars
This is one of those fantastic cases where the second book was even better than the first! I really enjoyed Ninefox Gambit, but I absolutely loved Raven Stratagem. 

Compared to the first book, this sequel felt much more accessible. The story and character motivations were just more clearly explained. I am now also have a strong grasp how the politics, mathematics and calendar system relate to the larger worldbuilding, which certainly helped.

The best aspect of this second book was the cha
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 tor
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was "okay" (two stars), which represents a huge disappointment considering how much I loved the first book.

Its main weakness was a misguided choice of focus and POV, as well as the resulting lack of plot development over the first 3/4. Instead of staying with the engaging pair of Cheris and Jedao, who are the ones who actually have a goal and an intricate plan for reaching it, we are denied this POV entirely. Instead, we're put into the heads of various other characters who seem to merely
Chris Berko
Bit of a letdown after a very cool book one, but this was still an enjoyable read. Totally different in terms of story and presentation this one had a lot less action and a lot more maneuvering and political intrigue. Ninefox Gambit was literally a block to block, street by street, door to door taking over a fortress of a novel with weird math stuff and crazy characters that had an totally awesome explosive finale. Raven Stratagem had a completely different feel and pace and nothing felt as exot ...more
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
Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter
Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge
A book by a trans or nonbinary author

This was so good! It provided more insight into the world and characters (especially the factions and the hexarchs). This installment was much more character focused than the first book but we do get some interesting battle scenes and action (I just wish there was more 😭 I just can't get enough of the exotic weapons). The pace was slower as well since it was more character focused but it is a nice trade off for all the worldbuil
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This world is so spectacularly cool and futuristic – I have never read anything like it (not that I’m the expert in Sci-Fi literature). Compared to the first book of the series where I often felt lost, I really enjoyed to finally see behind some mechanisms and to experience some “everyday-life” in the hexarchate universe. I also think, that this narrative brought more depth with it (though the characters were already amazing in the first one):

“Of course, at some point you had to ask yourself h
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap. The last half of this book was so surprisingly good. The characters really drove it home for me.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2-star


Raven Stratagem is a great example of a second novel that suffered from the cult popularity of the first. I felt overwhelmingly that Yoon Ha Lee's great success with Ninefox Gambit discouraged him from making significant improvements to his plot or world-building, and, I might argue, encouraged him to adopt a far more blasé attitude toward his characters than was present in the first installment. Why fix it if most people don't think it's broken, after all?

We spend a lot of time playing in
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. ★★★½☆.

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
Allison Hurd
It was both better than and not as good as the first. Better, in that it finally allowed you to see some of the moving parts and name them for you. Not as good, because naming them meant there was a language, and the language has rules, and now I'm thinking about the rules as much as I am about how cool it all looks when it's working, so some of it seems off.

CONTENT WARNING: (not actual spoilers, just a list of topics)(view spoiler)
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to this book. Ninefox Gambit was a compelling and original take on an interstellar empire.

Unfortunately, this book feels like it was written by a different author. The structure is completely different and the focus of characters is also essentially completely different.

The biggest disappointment for me was how little actually happens. Most of the book consists of conversations. Instead of the characters doing things, they mostly talked to each other about what they
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
Bogi Takács
Still thinking about it - I was planning on reviewing it tomorrow, but I need to gather more convoluted thoughts than usual! So it might take a bit longer.

Source of the book: Gift from Ada Hoffmann & friends

Second read: I thought I'd quickly skim it to refresh my memories before reading Books 3-4, but I ended up rereading it sentence by sentence, I am just nailed to these books.
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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)

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