Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Length: 412 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Publication Date: June 12th 2018
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…
If you have been following me for any length of time, you know about my love for the Machineries of Empire trilogy. I have been reading (and re-reading!) and absolutely loving each installment, so, of course, I was excited for Revenant Gun. It was, without a doubt, my most anticipated release this year.
However, with this amount of expectations, it’s impossible not be slightly afraid that the ending might not be on par with them. However, I shouldn’t have worried, Revenant Gun was a great conclusion!
The book opens up almost a decade after the events of Raven Stratagem, Cheris is missing and General Brezan is now the Head of the Protectorate and tries his best to protect the reforms put in place during the events of the second book. What he doesn’t know is that, while Nirai Kujen was away, he was busy building a new Jedao from scratch to help him maintain the old system. This new version of Jedao is missing almost 400 years of memories and has to figure out everything including why everyone is so afraid of him and what’s his role in this new conflict opposing the old Hexarchate and the new Protectorate.
The structure of the book is quite different from the other books as we get more POVs and more timelines. We follow events from hundreds of years ago, but we also follow events that took place just after Raven Stratagem and and the current situation of the Hexarchate. I am not usually the biggest fan of multi-POVs books because it can be a bit confusing but, in Revenant, it was a necesseray tool to follow all the events happening in the Hexarchate. My favorite new perspective definitely was Hemiola, a servitor (a robot-AI) who had a fondness for dramas and very much reminded me of Murderbot from Martha Wells’ series! I also enjoyed finally meeting High General Inesser since this character was mentionned repeatedly in the first two books and she didn’t disappoint, she is definitely interesting and she brings a lot to the book.
This installment was action-packed but we also learn a lot more about central characters: Jedao is again at the heart of this story since we follow two versions of him: Jedeao as a part of Cheris and the Kujen-reconstructed younger version of him that has to learn everything that he did previously and who has to deal with the consequences of an act he didn’t even remember doing. Kujen also plays a bigger role in Revenant, I always found his character fascinating and, in this book, we learn a lot more about him, his motivations and his odd relationship with Jedao. We even have the opportunity to read a a couple of diaries entries he wrote when he was younger and see who he was before detaching himself completely from humanity.
Most of the characters in this world are morally gray and that’s especially the case of Jedao since, even with the best intentions in the world, has made an habit of killing millions of people to prove his point. However, even with all his flaws, I couldn’t help but to root for him during the entire trilogy! Jedeao is extreme case of very flawed character but all the characters that we encounter in those books are flawed, and that makes them even more relatable.
The themes explored in the first two books are still present in Revenant such as the discussion on gender identity. Since Cheris has most of Jedao memories and mannerisms, most people identify her as Jedao in a woman’s body when in reality, she is much more than just a vessel for Jedao since she has her own memories and motivations. This book also features sentient robots and other sentient creatures that I won’t reveal here (it’s way more surprising to discover it by yourself!) and it was fun to see how almost every single human in the system is oblivious of the other form of consciousness living in their world. As for the servitors, they themselves are happy to hide that fact to be left alone by the Hexarchate!
The ending was pretty bittersweet but that was to be expected after everything that happened during the trilogy. An happy ending wouldn’t have been possible after all those deaths and conflicts. When your reality is based on propaganda and tortures, the fight to built something better where choice and freedom is possible isn’t going to be an easy one. I think this series is going to be a classic, it is clever, with complex characters and all of that set in a mindblowing world. I’m amazed with by Yoon Ha Lee worldbuilding, he managed to built a world so ruthless, so epic and so alien from our own and yet, so human.
Highly, highly recommended.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Solaris. All opinions are my own.