Sonja (aka Yashima)'s Reviews > Ninefox Gambit

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
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This story takes place far in the future, in the Hexarchate a human empire divided into 7 factions - oh no 6 ... one turned out to be heretics and was annihilated a while back. Each faction is equivalent with a choice of profession. The Kel for example are the soldiers who guided by their formation instinct are super-humanly loyal. The Shuos are the spies, the Nurai the mathematicians and so on.

The defining element of the world however is the so-called high calendar which provides the empire with "exotic" technologies. Now here's the part that nearly made me put down the book at the start. Because the whole calendar thing is never quite explained, it is so self-evident for the people living in this world, that they never bother to explain it to the reader. In this aspect of "not explaining a thing and hoping the reader will still make sense of the world" it reminded me a lot of Ancillary Justice ... ultimately in a good way. At the end of the book I seem to understand a little bit more about what this is. Here's my take (Note: this is not a plot spoiler more of a world-building spoiler:) (view spoiler)

The main protagonist is Cheris, a Kel officer, who in her last battle used heretical formations to take an objective. As her squad is taken away for re-education, she is given a chance to redeem herself. Heretics have taken an important nexus fortress and she has to propose a plan on how to retake the fortress.

Once I got used to the generous helping of math terminology ("if you find a topological solution let me know") and ignored any possible deeper meanings, once I stopped thinking this might end up being some kind of matrix clone, and once I accepted that I wouldn't immediately understand the high calendar ... this book turned out to have delightful protagonists (view spoiler) and an incredibly intricate and interesting plot. I could not put the book down, and look forward very much to reading the sequel.

The end (view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

May 30, 2017 – Shelved
July 6, 2017 – Started Reading
July 6, 2017 –
19.0% "I am lost. I think I am missing an important allegorical translation or previous stories set in the same world ... what is calendrical heresy? I am floundering through this story that sounds terribly interesting if only I could grasp what was going on ... is it supposed to feel like I am reading what goes on in the mind of a Protoss in a Starcraft game or is that just me trying to fill in the gaps?"
July 9, 2017 – Finished Reading

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Sonja (aka Yashima) Addendum: Having read 4 out of 6 Hugo nominated novels so far, this immediately jumped to my number one spot ahead of All the birds in the Sky, The Obelisk Gate and Too Like Lightning.


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