Ahoy there me mateys! This be the nineteenth (and last!) book in me Ports for Plunder – 19 Books in 2019 list. Of course accomplishing this goal came down to the wire. This book has been on me list since it first came out in 2016. Me best friend said I had no choice but to read it. I bought it and I tried multiple times and could never get past the first chapters. I trust me friend. Crew members insisted that it be great too. So what was the problem? I couldn’t seem to ever get into it or want to read it. I added it to the 19 in 2019 list so I would have no choice. And then lollygagged the whole year choosing ANY other read. As I said at the beginning of the year, “I will still read based on me mood but come hell or high water I shall visit these ports in 2019″ and now the end is nigh! I did not mean to be forsworn! So I read it. ARRR!
Aye, ye mateys were right. This book was so worth the read. It is such an odd experience that I am not sure if I loved reading the book but I absolutely loved the ending and having read the book. Does that make any sense? Basically I ended up completely seeming to understand the plot, adoring the two main characters, being fascinated by the world building, and ultimately not really understanding how the politics and reality really function. Weirdly, I be okay with that.
I do have to admit that I kept feeling like I missed something. I am not visual at all and did wonder, while reading, if that happened to impact me comprehension of the novel. I also had no idea how to explain this book to anyone else who hasn’t read it. The closest I can come to it is that the mathematics in this book act like a magic system. But that be simplistic at best and wrong at worst. I hate physics and don’t understand the higher maths like calculus. So maybe there be intricacies here that I didn’t get. Normally I would feel stupid because of this. However, somehow the author manages to not explain anything, use these concepts, and still make me feel like the unfolding plot was accessible and that I would come to understand everything. And I feel like I did even though I am also not sure if that be true.
The political ideology dispute at the center of the war in the book deals with “calendrical rot.” I couldn’t explain it when asked so the best way is to borrow Matey Bradley’s descriptions from his review:
This is indeed a beautiful work of the imagination, running wild and free like a raven across the universe.
Yes, this is a Mil-SF novel, and yes, this is also a quantum-imagination novel, but it’s also one hell of wild ride when it comes to all the intrigue and the bloodbaths and the sheer wicked delight I get in switching sides among the factions . . .
I should warn you all that there is a kind-of heavy learning curve at the opening, with lots of strange terms that seem like english, but have contexts and combinations that are very strange indeed. What’s a calendar, you ask? Oh, it just happens to be a society-wide mental and mathematical consensual reality engine that requires, (I believe,) the rigid mindsets of all the people under it to alter reality.
That doesn’t seem like it should make sense but I thought “AYE!” and gave a sigh of relief when I read those words. Then I thanked all the gods in the watery depths that someone could write any description AT ALL that summed up what I read and made complete sense of what I was feeling in that moment.
Seriously though, I am not sure if this review is really making any sense. I am not sure who I could recommend this book to. I am not sure if I completely understand the ramifications of this book. What I am sure of it that I be kinda perplexed, kinda loved it, and absolutely be excited to read the next book in the series. Yoon Ha Lee has impressed me. Arrrrr!
Side note: Here be a tor.com article that discusses this book and was great to read almost immediately after finishing the novel.
Goodreads had this to say about the novel:
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’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.
Cheris’s 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.
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