The first installment of the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate.
To win an impossible war, Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.
Captain Kel Cheris of the Hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris' career isn't the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the Hexarchate itself might be next. Cheris' best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress. The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao - because she might be his next victim.
©2016 Yoon Ha Lee (P)2016 Recorded Books
The novel was initially hard going but once I wrapped my mind around the concept that maths and beliefs can distort reality, really started to get into the story.
Narration was good but had to drop it down to X1.5 playback speed to understand the narrator.
I didn't think there was enough story here to justify a full-length novel, but I'd definitely check out Yoon Ha Lee's shorter fiction.
I would actively avoid other books by this narrator.
Military SF isn't quite my thing anyway. This hasn't put me off entirely, but it doesn't encourage me to explore further any time soon. It felt repetitive enough as it is.
No. I found her to be robotic and stilted in delivery, almost like she was reading this for the first time and never quite knew where it was going to go or what her inflection should be.
There was some interest in the relationship between the protagonist and the dead general inserted into her mind, but this was explored less than I would have expected.
A wonderfully imagined world, interesting characters with fascinating discussion on ethics, strategy, society. The two main protagonists are both rich, three dimensional characters struggling realistically with the paths that they have chosen in a setting that they don't agree with, and several 'vignettes' provide great incite into the story with just the taste of other characters.
For someone used to reading Scifi, a delight, but I can imagine that, for one unused to holding so much unknown terminology at bay, this may be a difficult read. Terms are often delivered without immediate explanation, if ever explanation arrives, and so the reader is often left to feel how the world is rather than being provided a blueprint.
If youre happy to dive into a different world though, well recommended.
"Sails similar waters to the Ancillary series"
I had to re-listen to this book to figure out whether I liked it or not (I was already impressed by the language and characters).
That sounds like faint praise but for me it means that the book was complex enough that I needed another go round to understand everything.
It's definitely worth a listen if you like the Ancillary books (although AI plays a very minor role).
"Romances of the three kingdoms and Discrete mathematics had a baby"
Like an ancient Chinese military history set in a universe driven by laser weapons, endless war, geometric religious orientation, heresy and plots within plots. Buckle up kiddos, it's a wild ride
"Just too confusing with enough context"
I listened to the whole book because I really wanted to give it a chance, but I just couldn't enjoy it.
The technology described in the book is confusing and the author fails to give enough of a description or context to help the reader understand what he heck they are talking about. Those description of the entire society structure is confusing and never contains enough information to help the reader understand what is the purpose of it all or what the characters are even talking about. I'm as clueless now as I was at the beginning, but now I'm frustrated. By the end I just wanted the damned thing to be over so I could move on to a better book.
I have the give the narrator credit, she did a good job and if not for her, I might not have bothered to finish the book at all.
"Magical mathematics, not mathematical magic"
but still a fun ride. the world is very new and fresh, but the warfare and math is spoken in more poetic terms that realistic terms. I wish the protagonist would protag more, and the ending and "twist" were obvious almost from the first "mysterious" dream sequence, but the pay off was worth the short coming. worth the read just for the unique philosophical stance.
"Under Developed, but readable"
I'd develop the characters a little more fully, and spend a lot more time on the action sequences. It felt under played, like the battles were a nescience to the writer, and he really just wanted to get back to the interplay between the MC and Shadow General in her head. The whole book is rather vague, you need to quickly pick up what's going on. If you are going to use terms like, "Calendar" and make into some kind of society-wide mental and mathematical consensual reality engine that requires, the rigid mindsets of all the people under it to alter reality, leaving the reader to work that out on their own isn't something I would attempt.
Every author develops their skill as they produce more work. I think Yoon Ha Lee, has a lot of imagination, I like the concepts, and the structure of the story, but no pictures were painted in my mind, not of the characters, the ships, nothing. I would read from this writer again, but I might hold off for a few more novels.
I really didn't mind her at first, but as the novel went on she added a lot of whining, immature, tones, and excessive emotion to the characters. Cheris is supposed to be a warrior, not just some dumb grunt, but a Captain, but she acts like a frustrated ignorant child a lot. I don't think she comes off that way due to the writing, but rather due to Emily's telling of the story.
As it stands currently this wouldn't make a good movie. I could see someone taking the name, and basic characters and re-writing it to make a movie. The screenplay, however, would have to be vastly different than the novel.
For my tastes this novel was too vague to be really enjoyable. I found myself asking these questions. "What is a calendar, what do the moth battle ships look like, What the hell is up with the servitors, is the cylindrical rot a state of mind, or...and what's up with the plant based weapons. Not to mention that it basically had two characters, or rather one, talking to her self and her invisible friend.I have been told that in order to really understand this book, and enjoy it, you need to read it twice. Maybe I'm lazy, but if a writer can't make me love their novel in the first read, there isn't going to be a second.
"Outstanding Plot and Wonderful Narration"
Emily Woo Zeller's narration made the book come alive, she is a treasure. Only made better by a well-written and expertly plotted story.
A must-read for science fiction fans. The book is tightly plotted and intricate, dropping the reader right into an unfamiliar future, with any explanation and context shown in glimpses, bits, and gradually over time. As alien as the technology and society are, the humans are still human, enmeshed in intrigue and camaraderie, betrayal and power struggles. Though the book is short (under 400 pages), it has all the feel of a sweeping space opera, but in the vein of Herbert's Dune, with Machiavellian political maneuvering, and a dash of Starship Troopers or Forever War in a certain glee of military planning. This is the first in a series and though left in a cliffhanger, the story of the initial book is nicely wrapped up so you aren't left completely in exquisite anticipation. I cannot wait for the next entry.
i loved yoon ha lee since i listened to battle of candle arc at clarkesworld. i love what lee has done here to continue this incredibly inventive science fiction/fantasy story. the calendrical warfare is original and evocative. and i love the twists and turns and layers within layers.
gets you hooked quick and keeps you throughout the book! cant wait for next book
"Dizzying Prose? I'm Your Gun"
I like it when prose makes me a little bit dizzy. When the story is something I can almost grab onto, but just as my fingers try to latch onto it, I find I'm grasping smoke and shadow. And I love it -- I love the magic and the illusion of it all. It's like getting a buzz from prose.
That's essentially what Ninefox Gambit did to me -- made me feel like I'd had a nice night (or week) drinking. I can't tell you exactly what I was doing while I was drinking -- I can't explain the mathematics or the science or the way either plays with magical realism, but it was a fun time. Mainly, that's because I wasn't just left swimming alone with Yoon Ha Lee's prose. The story's anchored by a great relationship between the young and ambitious Captain Kel Cheris -- a soldier's soldier who wants to be all that she can be -- and the undead ghost General Jedao -- a war criminal and master strategist who is either looking for redemption or revenge. The tension and relationship between Cheris and Jedao kept me anchored when the prose on its own might have lost me.
The boo's not without its issues. I realized before listening this is part of a trilogy. Unlike Ancillary Justice, this book doesn't stand on its own very well. The end is, unfortunately, very much a set up for what is to come. Additionally, while Cheris and Jedao's characters are well drawn, the supporting characters get pretty minimal development and as such receive little emotional attachment.
This is the second book I've heard Emily Woo Zeller narrate, and I think I'm kind of smitten by her readings. Her voices are a little bit limited (there's a lot of tough sounding military types in this book and after a while some of them sound the same), but her performance really made Cheris and Jedao's relationship pay off, and might've helped ground the prose too. She did a really solid job with this book, and I look forward to hearing more of her work.
I can imagine fans of Ancillary Justice and the Expanse enjoying Ninefox Gambit. It's a unique take on military science fiction that is lush and intoxicating. The combination of smoke-curling prose and honest relationship made for a delicious cocktail. When the second book comes out, I'll be back for another round.
"Really interesting and original dystopian sci-fi"
I really enjoyed this novel, both the story and the narration. It's not straight forward military sci-fi and not grand space opera but it's clever and captivating. Most of the criticisms seem to be that every detail of the universe isn't explained or that there are too many narrators but I liked this about it. I'll be getting the next instalment as soon as it's available.
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