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The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
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The Raven Tower

by Ann Leckie

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A small god follows the companion to the heir of the Raven's lease - a long story of gods underlays the power plays of humans. It reminded me of the Stone Sky a bit but was its own amazingly structured self. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
This book was so good I can't even describe it. First of all, there's an impressive use of second-person narration. Second of all, the tight plotting. Third of all, excellent characters. Fourth, everything else. Read this book. ( )
  g33kgrrl | May 13, 2019 |
This didn’t really sound like something that would appeal to me, but I loved Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy, so I decided to avoid reading anything more about the book and just see what it was like.

I liked it! It’s engaging, intriguing and doing some surprisingly-similar things to Ancillary Justice, including but not limited to: a first-person narrator who neither human nor omnipotent but has greater awareness and abilities (than a human), and comes to care about some of the humans it watches; an interesting use of pronouns -- the story is addressed to Eolo and so Eolo’s actions are described in the second-person; and the story about the past eventually collides with the story about the present.

I was so busy noting how this is a case of themes and variations on Ancillary Justice, I completely missed that this is ALSO themes and variations on Hamlet. That might explain why I found the ending incredibly satisfying for the first-person narrator but I was expecting something more from -- for? -- Eolo which didn’t eventuate.

It’ll be interesting to reread this and see if I feel differently about the ending now that I know what to expect. ( )
3 vote Herenya | May 11, 2019 |
Ann Leckie turns her eye from science fiction to fantasy with The Raven Tower and proves that her considerable talent is not confined to any one genre.

The Kingdom of Iraden has been protected for centuries by a god known as The Raven, bound to a human ruler known as The Lease. The periodic death of The Lease as a sacrifice to the Raven fuels the Raven’s power which helps the god fulfill its duty to Iraden. Mawat, the Lease-heir is called home in anticipation of a transition. He and his servant, Eolo, arrive to find his uncle on the throne, or Bench, his father missing, and the sacrifice of the Lease unmet. Eolo discovers a mystery and dark secrets that could unravel a country.

The story, with a slight debt to Hamlet, alternates between Eolo’s perspective in the Iraden seat of power, Vastai, and the perspective of an ancient god, known as The Strength and Patience of the Hill. The alternating perspectives investigate the present mystery, while also conveying the long history of the world that led to the current turning point. A long history filled with gods large and small as well as warring groups of humans.

Leckie’s earlier works play with the use of gendered pronouns. In The Raven Tower, one of the devices she employs is extensive use of second-person point of view. In each case, the device serves to shift your perspective slightly and let you view things in a light you may not have otherwise done. The extraordinary skill she displays is just on the edge of your consciousness without overpowering the story.

The story explores in a way that few fantasies do the way in which a world filled with gods achieve and exercise their power through their interactions with humans. It illustrates the complicated relationships this entails and the conflicts between both gods and humans that result. Leckie spirals the story in from large concepts in ever tighter circles that sweep you along and bring you to the very center where seemingly disparate stories converge in a climax that seems inevitable only after the fact.

Like everything Leckie has done, this is an impressive feat. Compelling characters, fascinating worldbuilding, interesting plot and exceptional writing. Leckie books are thoughtful and not quite like anything else being written. The Raven Tower is sure to please her many fans, win her new ones, and lead to more awards. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book from the publisher. ( )
  tottman | Apr 30, 2019 |
Leckie just keeps doing interesting things. Here it’s a fantasy about a god telling a story, or a series of stories, in a world in which a god’s statements become true (or the god dies in trying to make them true). The other main protagonist (addressed as “you” by the god) is a canny young trans man, who is himself the confidant of the heir to the Raven’s Lease—the human ruler of a small but crucial geographic bottleneck. This is all quite engaging, but I also really like what Leckie does with the performance of emotion and its cultural supports. The heir, like his father, is prone to truly ridiculous sulks lasting days, which everyone just tolerates, even though he’s also capable of overcoming them when he has reasons—specifically, when he’s on the border fighting skirmishes. But although people back at the Raven’s Tower bemoan his behavior and ask his confidant to try to rein him in, they also basically accept it—it’s not great for a ruler, but it seems culturally intelligible, as do other extravagant performances of emotion that are simultaneously both heartfelt and engaged in for purposes of manipulation. Anyway, there are also god politics, with serious twists and turns; most of the characters turn out to be implicated in some dodgy business, or at the least beneficiaries of past crimes, and not always in the way I would have expected. Leckie is also doing something interesting with the human relationship to truth and power: Eolo is a man even if powerful people refuse to recognize him as such. Others can definitely hurt him by failing to recognize who he is, but that is different. Power makes human reality, but not all reality, contrary to the rules for gods; e pur se muove. ( )
  rivkat | Apr 22, 2019 |
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"Following her record-breaking run in science fiction, Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, brings her immense talent to an epic fantasy novel about the hidden forces that guide our fates. Having helped win a war at great cost in human lives and to its own power, the god known as the Raven of Iraden was forced to continue to fulfill its commitment to its followers and slowly regain its strength through the steady flow of prayers and sacrifices which are the source of all the gods' powers. Centuries into that toil, a usurper to the throne of Iraden has discovered the Raven's weakened state and sets in motion a plot to gain the favor of younger, stronger gods in a bid to consolidate his power. But the Raven of Iraden is more resilient than its enemies have accounted for, and with the help of some unlikely allies it may still return to glory" --… (more)

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