NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR – NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 HUGO AWARD FOR BEST SERIES – WINNER OF THE 2016 LOCUS AWARD – NOMINATED FOR THE HUGO, NEBULA AND ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARDS.
When Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for her unconventional tactics, Kel Command gives her a chance to redeem herself, by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the 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.
Lee's imagination isn't matched by his execution in this awkward debut, which kicks off a hard science fiction trilogy. Capt. Kel Cheris has survived a bloody campaign against the heretic Eels on the outpost world of Dredge, only to be drafted by her superiors to scour the "calendrical rot" centered at the Fortress of Scattered Needles. This phenomenon threatens the entire hexarchate society, which is dependent on calendrical stability (an intriguing concept that unfortunately remains opaque to the reader). Cheris offers a novel solution to the problem: she'll enlist the assistance of the undead General Shuos Jedao, whose persona will become part of her. Any momentum this plot line generates is diffused by chapters in the form of communiqu s within the target fortress that skirt dangerously close to parody (one dates itself as "Year of the Fatted Cow, Month of the Chicken, Day of the Rooster"). Many readers will struggle to absorb the contours of this universe by osmosis, which is the only option Lee presents.
Can’t say anymore than that
Compelling story. Well envisioned universe. Good read.
Fascinating military space fantasy-tech
The terminology starts thickly & the reader is expected to keep up -- feels like some classic SF, with worldbuilding details to suit more modern books. I like it. (But you totally have to pick up the world-terms on the run. Hand-holding is at a minimum.)
The body-count is kind of stupendous, though. Don't get attached. Don't get attached to anyone. (Well, okay, if you're very careful... there *is* a sequel.)
*goes to buy sequel*