Genre : Silk punk, Fantasy
Publisher : Tor.com
Length : 236 pages
Format : ebook
Rating : 5 stars
Publication Date : September 26th 2016
Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.
A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?
Mokoya and Akeha are the children of the Protector, a ruler feared by many. In order to fullfill a promise made years ago, the twins are sent to the Grand Monastery as pupils. They realize as children that one of them, Mokoya, has special abilities. She’s a seer: her dreams come true and this ability is very rare and valuable. Both of them know that the moment her ability is discovered by the Protectorate, they are going to be separated. However, when Moko dreams about an accident in the capital, the twins are forced to reveal their secret and what they feared the most happens: they have to go on their separate ways.
The plot of The Black Tides of Heaven is pretty straightforward. It follows children with special abilities raised in a monastery far from their home. However, this novella has the perfect balance of original ideas and well-loved tropes. Indeed, Yang adds a lot of other interesting elements that gives depth to this apparently simple story.
First of all, in this world, children are born without a specific gender. They can choose a gender when they are ready to do so. Some make their decision very young while others choose a gender in their twenties or not at all, it’s common for people to remain genderless . However, the Protectorate is a matriarchy so, people from the ruling family usually decide to become women. Akeha decides to become a man and his decision is controversial because of the gender dynamic. One of my favorite scenes in the book is the moment Keha realizes he wants to be confirmed as a man and not a woman like his sister. The writing in this scene is gorgeous and I loved how JY Yang showed the change in Keha, it was very well done.
I also enjoyed how the relationship between the different characters were portayed, especially beween the two siblings. I could feel how much the twins loved each other, I wanted both of them to be happy with the decisions they made and my heart ached when they decided to go on their own way. Both twin are very different, Akeha’s is very quiet while his sister is very bright and outspoken. This novella focuses heavily on Akeha and I really liked that because I could relate to him the most. I loved the fact that this novella cover a lot of time, we basically follow the character from their birth to their 30’s, because it allowed me to feel like I really knew them.
I know it was an issue for some people but, the pacing worked perfectly for me. Because of the time span, they are several big time jumps but, I didn’t find them jarring at all.On the contrary, the scenes that Yang chose to detail were all important and allowed me to understand the characters even after a jump of ten years.
If I have to make one small complaint, it would be that the romantic relationships weren’t really developped and they felt a bit too insta-lovey for me. It didn’t bother me that much for Akeha but, the instant “I’m in love with you and I would die for you” between Moko and her lover was kind of ridiculous. However, since the romance wasn’t an important part of the story, it didn’t ruin the reading experience at all.
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