Friday, 15 June 2018

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee is the third and final book in The Machineries of Empire trilogy. I have previously read and reviewed Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem. This is very much an overarching story told over three volumes and, even though each book introduces new point of view characters, the story depends very much on what went before. I do not recommend reading it out of order (start with Ninefox Gambit).

When Shuos Jedao wakes up for the first time, several things go wrong. His few memories tell him that he's a seventeen-year-old cadet--but his body belongs to a man decades older. Hexarch Nirai Kujen orders Jedao to reconquer the fractured hexarchate on his behalf even though Jedao has no memory of ever being a soldier, let alone a general. Surely a knack for video games doesn't qualify you to take charge of an army?

Soon Jedao learns the situation is even worse. The Kel soldiers under his command may be compelled to obey him, but they hate him thanks to a massacre he can't remember committing. Kujen's friendliness can't hide the fact that he's a tyrant. And what's worse, Jedao and Kujen are being hunted by an enemy who knows more about Jedao and his crimes than he does himself...

There are two main point of view characters in this final book: a servitor that spends a lot of time with the Cheris/Jedao that we've come to know and love over three books and a brand new Jedao constructed by Kujen and lacking most of his memories, which went with Cheris. Somewhat unexpectedly the book jumps forward nine years from the end of Raven Stratagem, which took a bit of getting used to. We do hear from Brezan but the mystery of what's going on with Cheris doesn't last nearly as long as it did in the previous book.

I really enjoyed getting to know more about the world of servitors and seeing further into their world. After the hints in the very first book that servitors would be important (when Cheris was the only one who bothered talking to them), I found this development very satisfying. Seeing the servitors from new!Jedao's perspective was also interesting since they didn't exist when he was human and he has no other memories of them. The other interesting piece of worldbuilding we get to see in more detail in Revenant Gun is the providence of their spaceships. I always thought it was cool that they were collectively called voidmoths (scoutmoths, needlemoths, etc) but now we finally learn that "moth" isn't just an affectation. The ships are bred and then modified. While living ships aren't exactly a unique idea, Lee does something new quite interesting with them that I won't spoil.

Revenant Gun was an excellent read. Being the last in a trilogy, of course this book brings the overarching plot to a close and, ends like any good dystopian series: with the overthrow of the oppressive regime. I enjoyed the whole series and I stand by the assessment I made in my review of Raven Stratagem: the first book has the steepest learning curve by far. The calendrical warfare stuff that took place near the start-ish of Ninefox Gambit was the hardest to get my head around and nothing in the later books really compares with that confusion. If you got through the first book and didn't like that aspect, but did like the characters, then I urge you to continue with the series.

Anyway, Revenant Gun was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and I look forward to seeing what Lee writes in the future. (And in the meantime, I still have a lot of his short stories to get to.)

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: June 2018, Solaris
Series: Machineries of Empire book 3 of 3
Format read: ePub/paperback
Source: ARCs from publisher

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