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The Seventh Perfection

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  424 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Daniel Polansky returns with The Seventh Perfection, an innovative, mind-bending fantasy mystery

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King's Amanuensis, Manet had to master all sev
Paperback, 173 pages
Published September 22nd 2020 by Tordotcom
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  424 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Spencer Orey
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was rad. More of an experimental piece, but there's a great implied story. And I actually loved not having any direct first person or third person experiences.

It blew my mind to see that a full story is possible without so many things I now realize I was taking for granted.
Oct 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Manet is on a search for a woman on behalf of a God-King. Although we never hear Manet’s point of view, it is possible that there are hidden motivations for the search. The story is told by the people she interviews, in a series of monologues. We never even hear the questions she asks them. In an extremely disjointed fashion, we learn some things about both the woman and an old revolution.

I would have been more interested in the plot of this book if the structure had not been so confusing. Ther
***Note: I received a copy curtesy of Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review.

* Plot: 4.5★
* World building: 3.5★
* Characters: 3.5★
* Coherence/Consistency/ Sense of time: 3.5★
* Language/Humor/Witticism: 4★
* Enjoyability: 4+★

This is a story about a woman, Manet, who mastered all seven perfections (??), thus becoming a virtuoso and having perfect memory, and her search for another woman of whom she only has a portrait in a locket.

The most interesting part is that the
The Seventh Perfection is a unique read due to the writing. It's in second person narration but it felt like a one sided conversation with myself and kind of made me feel a little confused with what was going on. If this was written differently I think I would've liked it more, even though the writing is what makes it different. It makes for a different reading experience for sure but I think I would've liked more backstory and more answers. It was interesting enough and the ending was open-ende ...more
Para (wanderer)
ARC received from the publisher ( in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes, you know a book will be perfect for you going into it. Sometimes, like here, you stumble into it completely unawares. It was the cover that first caught my eye, and then the blurb – a woman with a perfect memory looking for answers. But it was the prose and the narrative style that won me over. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I still think it’s best to go in blind and knowing no more than that, but if you need
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
My first Polansky. Definitely not the last. Longer review to come.
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

There is only one way to satisfy an irrevocable urge to uncover the truth: you go hunting for answers. It is not the destination that will serve as the driving force of this journey but the desire to eliminate all of the dreaded possibilities that your mind could conceive as you’re left to reflect upon them. Author Daniel Polansky (Low Town trilogy, The Builders) now returns with a brand-new novella that will send readers into a mysterious world
The Captain
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

This was a very entertaining read.  The story follows a girl looking for information about a person whose image appears in a locket.  This main character has perfect memory recall.  The story is told in monologue format from various people that the main character interviews.  Ye get no perspective of the girl herself.  The questions she asks in her investigation
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This one was very interesting. All the characters talk directly to you and the author has left most of the world-building to the reader's imagination.
Loved it.
Ola G
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy, short
10/10 stars

The full review is available on my blog here.

The Seventh Perfection is a fantasy mystery. Set in a city still remembering the throes of popular revolution which dramatically altered its physical, ideological and spiritual landscape two decades prior, the novella follows Manet – a young woman gifted with an eidetic memory and rigorously trained to become God-King’s Amanuensis. Amanuensis is a sort of a glorified portable memory/bodyguard/entertainment center slave, and the titular sev
Probably more of a 3.5 but I’m rounding up.

I was so intrigued when I first saw this premise but what really made me wanna read this book was that very painting like beautiful cover. And this one has definitely surprised me.

I’ve read only a few short stories and other works which are written in second person, and I have come to distinctly associate it with N. K. Jemisin. But it was such a surprise to see such creative use of this writing style in this novella. While the story itself stays close
Emma Cathryne
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This little novel is thoroughly unique and incredibly bold. Not only does Polansky tackle a second-person POV, he tells the story in a series of one-sided conversations between various characters and our mysterious, voiceless protagonist. As another reviewer put it, it reads like you are in the room of someone else on a phone call: you get one half of the conversation and have to interpret from there.

This is a challenging way to write a story. Polansky has given himself the task of creating a w
Toya (the reading chemist)
This is one of those books where the audiobook narration does NOT work at all. The Seventh Perfection has some really cool concepts, but since the audiobook narrator is one person rather than a full cast, the execution of this story was really poor. I found myself not being about to distinguish between the different characters or really even orient myself around who was speaking when.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing an advanced listening copy. This did not influence my review. All opi
Fantastic. Unique. An exquisite example of how "world-building" ought to be done, which is to say by implication, while telling one character's story, rather than as if one were building an RPG supplement, or an entire wikipedia for a non-existent world. It's not even possible to label this clearly as "fantasy" or "science fiction" as there are elements that could be interpreted either way and the fantastical elements could as easily be explained as having science fictional underpinnings.

The sty
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is going to be a difficult book to review.

To start, I enjoyed this. Yes, different styles appeal to me, but Polansky has written something engaging and intriguing that kept pulling me back, despite not having a central narrator. To elaborate; The Seventh Perfection is a tale of revolution, of revisionism, of mystery. We have a central view point, a woman who investigating a strange hologram locket. The story is told by the people she interviews, their dialogue like a stream of consciousnes
Laura (crofteereader)
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is one of those "what the hell did I just read??" books. Told entirely in one-sided dialogue (think how in Legend of Zelda games, Link never speaks, though there are occasional gaps where his dialogue would go and people talk to him as though he's talking back - it's like that) and each chapter a different person speaks to Manet (our MC, our eyes, ourself), with a few people being visited twice.

When I first started this novella, I was worried that I was missing something, that there was som
Caidyn (he/him/his)
I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

As the description says, this book is innovative. It's told through a new perspective every chapter, a different character speaking to Manet as she tries to uncover secrets that the God-King wants to keep hidden because it could destroy him. In this world, there are seven perfections, all things that someone can master. And Manet is one of those who has mastered all seven. I found this book to be very unique and very brilliantl
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella, fantasy
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor for providing an ARC!

I skimmed the synopsis of this one: when I saw the number of pages and the length of the synopsis, I felt I would be less surprised if I read it thoroughly! And I was right!

So, if you want to go blind in this novella, just know that it's original, strange to the point of being somewhat fascinating, and really surprising in its ending!

If you want to know more, keep reading!

What surprised me first was the format of this book
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.

This is a fascinating, experimental novella. It is told in pseudo second person; our protagonist is silent, nameless, and only we only know them through the observations of others. Polansky has given us half a conversation, but a whole story.

It touches on broad themes, such as the fragility of empire, the role of propaganda, and the sacrifices inherent in learning hard truths. The main character both accomplishes her goal and
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
No, The Seventh Perfection isn't named for Daniel Polansky's previous seven flawless books.

Instead it's the most imaginative book I've read all year. A second person POV fantastical mystery that's as enthralling as our Manet.

Manet bounces from person to person, we as the reader only get to see the interviewee's side of the conversation.

Slowly things begin to make a little sense, then a little more, and before you know it I'm drawing venn diagrams with all the character's names and how they rel
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars

I discovered this book thanks to the book community and I was really curious about it, but it was somehow strange… On one hand I was curious, because I read some really interesting things about it (and the idea of it was too intriguing to resist), on the other hand I was a bit skeptical because I knew that as far as enjoyment goes this probably wasn’t the right book for me. And you know what?
I was right, but I am grateful nonetheless to have discovered and read this book. Sure, if we m
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I were to describe this book in on word, it would be *intriguing*. I’ve never read anything else by Daniel Polansky, but I’m certainly interested to do so now.

(Assuming I can ever get Mount Readmore under control)

(Yeah, that’ll totally happen any day now)

Anyway, this book takes place over the course of three days (which is a setup I find I really love - ironic given my long standing love of epics like *Lord of the Rings* and *Wheel of Time*). The main character has returned from training on a
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2020, netgalley, arc
The Seventh Perfection is an exquisite puzzle box of a story told with second-person POV. It's an intricately plotted mystery told with gorgeous, atmospheric writing perfect for fans of Tamsyn Muir.

Manet, the God-King's Amanuensis, is searching for the identity of a woman, whose photograph is in a locket. You, the reader, read people's responses as if you're Manet, asking the questions. It's a difficult feat to do well - capturing the voices of so many characters, making them unique while also c
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars

It is a captivating short story. I liked the whole second point of view perspective wherein you, as a reader, was engaged in the whole story.

The story revolves around Manet, a girl who is looking for an answer to the truth hidden from her. Someone gave her a locket with a picture of a woman, and she came looking for it through different people in the story. She also honing her skill for acquiring the seven perfections to serve the so-called god as an amanuensis.

I am so engaged in th
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Strange stuff.Totally different from his previous works.
Though I didn’t fail for some of them , still I like the fact that he keeps experimenting with different genres & writing styles.
This one was build as a series of one-sided dialogues, a style which takes sometime to adjust to , but once you are in it makes a quite unique reading experience.

Aug 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I was approved an ARC of this book by the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review was originally posted at my blog, eclectic tales: http://eclectictales.insanitysandwich...

Well, this was a unique reading experience. The entire story is told through dialogue with other characters, albeit one side of the dialogue as we don’t know what the protagonist, Manet, thinks of the whole matter. We learn of her character through her interactions with other characters, the thin
Oct 14, 2020 added it
Shelves: arc, reviewed
When I pick up a book, I'm pretty much guaranteed a distinctive story. There's always something interesting about the storytelling, perspective, style, world-building, or other element that makes the reader nod along and say yep, I see why they picked this story.

This was another such case. I really admire the author for making some truly daring choices. The story is told entirely through second person POV, through a variety of other characters' conversations with the main character (whos
*Thea 'Wookiee'sMama' Wilson*
The Seventh Perfection shows what is possible with a fantasy novella, it's one of those books that is hard to review without spoilers so I won't even try.

All I will say is that is is definitely worth the read as it's very creatively written as the story is told through other people talking to the 'narrator' alone though dialogue alone, sounds weird I know but it's so cleverly done that it's very impressive how well it works without all the descriptive work you usually get. This is really a book
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love a carefully conceived, beautifully executed, challenging narrative, but if someone had told me that the new novella by Daniel Polansky (Low Town trilogy) was written in the second-person point of view, I might have passed on it, which would have been a HUGE mistake. The Seventh Perfection is a gripping, strange, and grim story that will satisfy multiple readings (which, unfortunately, I did not have time for before this review). It is extremely unconventional in its narrative execution, b ...more
The troubles, you mean? We did not yet call it the rebellion, not until it succeeded.

4.5 perfected stars

That 'perfected' is more of a play on the title than this novel actually being perfect-though I daresay it comes pretty close!

Every now and then, I get lucky enough to read a book that reminds me of why I love SFF. This novella showed me what it felt like to fall in love with the genre all over again. It renewed my love for SFF and, uh, perhaps a little randomly - gaming.
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Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy, Empty Throne duology, the Hugo-nominated novella The Builders, and A City Dreaming. He can be found in Los Angeles, mostly.

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