Control the equations. Change the universe. In Yoon Ha Lee’s Hexarchate, reality is bent by manipulation of ‘calendrical equations’ (I’m just going to call it maths as magic and move right along). The calendar is influenced by belief, reinforced by ritual torture, and brutally protected by ruthless warfare and punitive measures where needed.
Captain Kel Cheris can’t be disloyal if she tries – but her talent for mathematics enables her to calculate new – if heretical – equations on the fly to win battles, blackening the reputation of her entire unit. Disgraced by her unorthodox tactics, she is teamed up with disembodied traitor General Shuos Jedao to put down a heretical rebellion or die trying. But the traitor's strategy is to pretend to betray the Hexarchate. Can Cheris trust the man who has never lost a battle - but once slaughtered his entire command?
This is military SF, not usually one of my favourite categories, but I rapidly found it difficult to put down. I love stories where I don’t know who to trust. I love stories that encourage me to support monsters, and subvert my morality until their perspective seems reasonable. I love that Ninefox Gambit sets itself up along these lines, then subverts even those goals.
There’s so much imagination on display here, scintillating and elusive. It’s a natural heir to the Culture novels – black humour, ruthless action, spiky politics, and a deep concern for the human cost.
Welcome to the Machineries of Empire. If Ninefox Gambit is anything to go by, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.Full review at x+1
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review