Review – Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Posted: June 17, 2016 in Military sci-fi, Sci-Fi
Tags: , ,

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There’s world building and then there’s world building; Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit falls firmly in the latter category. It’s a stunning piece of creativity that melds futuristic ideas of technology and the feel of an epic space opera with the ephemeral and magical vibe of pure fantasy. Add in to that a complicated relationship to mathematics and ideas of game theory, you’ll be somewhere close to what Ninefox Gambit achieves. Yet, it does so much more.

Cheris, a Kel soldier, is made a pawn in the schemes of the ruling hegemony as it seeks to destroy the rot of heresy within one of it’s star system citadels. Shuos Jedao, a long dead, mad general, is a data ghost resurrected and implanted into such pawns to crush uprisings and rebellions. However, Cheris is a formidable mathematician and Jedao is far from insane. Together the pair are forced into a game of far-reaching politics and terrible consequences.

From the outset the application of unique symbols and signifiers, far from the normal tropes of sci-fi, give the novel a wondrous appeal that grips the imagination tighter and tighter as the story gathers pace. While on the surface Cheris and Jedao engage in a siege action against the heretics, where we get to learn more about the math based technology (a fascinating feature) and hierarchy of archetypes (like Kel and Shous) it is the underlying plot that slowly and ominously surfaces to produce such a memorable conclusion.

Yoon Ha Lee possesses an amazing talent for prose, adding a tumbling poetry to the stark rigidness of the society she has created. Yet her ability to weave the story and hide the twists and turns of her plot so effectively was refreshing. Ninefox Gambit is epic fantastic sci-fi at it’s best; it’s full of politics, space warfare, treachery and revenge. The book is an astounding work of creativity, sumptuous writing and thrilling story telling. As the opening of a proposed trilogy, Ninefox Gambit promises to be the start of an awesome series.

Review copy
Published by Solaris Books

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