The Raven Tower
Gods meddle in the fates of men, men play with the fates of gods, and a pretender must be cast down from the throne in this breathtaking first fantasy novel from Ann Leckie, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven's Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven's watch, the city flourishes.But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods.It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo--aide to Mawat, the true Lease--arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven's Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself...and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.

The Raven Tower Details

TitleThe Raven Tower
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 26th, 2019
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780356506999
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Adult, Science Fiction Fantasy, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Lgbt, Glbt, Queer, Magic

The Raven Tower Review

  • Phrynne
    January 1, 1970
    I rushed to Netgalley to get hold of an advance copy of this book based on how much I enjoyed Leckie's science fiction series. The Raven Tower is fantasy which I also love, but somehow this one just missed the mark for me.Of course the writing is good and as usual for this author it is presented in an unusual way. Very unusual actually since the narrator is a rock who is also a god. This god spends a large part of the book philosophising on anything and everything as to be expected since he does I rushed to Netgalley to get hold of an advance copy of this book based on how much I enjoyed Leckie's science fiction series. The Raven Tower is fantasy which I also love, but somehow this one just missed the mark for me.Of course the writing is good and as usual for this author it is presented in an unusual way. Very unusual actually since the narrator is a rock who is also a god. This god spends a large part of the book philosophising on anything and everything as to be expected since he doesn't move around a lot. He does however tell the story of Eolo and Mawat and the book brightens up every time he gets back to what is happening to them.I got quite excited as I approached the end visualising some wonderful exciting conclusion but there wasn't one. Some people died, some did not and events just petered out. If there were to be a follow up I would read it because I am sure there could be great futures for both the rock god and Eolo. Alternatively I would like the author to take us back into space and the Ancillary world.
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  • Lizy
    January 1, 1970
    Holy sh*t, y'all. And let me repeat: holy sh*t.I have to start this review with how I heard about this book. I had the amazing opportunity to meet with Ann Leckie twice during SIBA18, both during the Rise of Alt SFF panel and again during the moveable feast of authors, where she had 90 seconds to tell my table about her first foray into fantasy. I loved the way she summarized her book and I have no doubt her synopsis will sound way, way better than anything I could pen, so I'm going to unapologe Holy sh*t, y'all. And let me repeat: holy sh*t.I have to start this review with how I heard about this book. I had the amazing opportunity to meet with Ann Leckie twice during SIBA18, both during the Rise of Alt SFF panel and again during the moveable feast of authors, where she had 90 seconds to tell my table about her first foray into fantasy. I loved the way she summarized her book and I have no doubt her synopsis will sound way, way better than anything I could pen, so I'm going to unapologetically paraphrase it below:"The Raven Tower is a book where anything the gods say becomes true. They cannot tell lies, and if they state an impossibility, they die. This novel is about a god who gets themselves into a predicament, and they need those around them to get them back out of it--but they're surrounded by enemies on all sides."That's not an exact quote of what she said, but it was in the ballpark. Anyway. I was hooked. I had to read it. And I'm so glad I did. This book is a friggin masterpiece. It's told from that same unique triple perspective that N.K. Jemisin used in the Broken Earth trilogy, where there's a 'you,' an 'I,' and a 'them,' all bundled together in the narration, but it's pulled off without being convoluted or bizarre. The characters are flawlessly portrayed. The intrigues are so good.Most of all, I love the tricks that are pulled. I don't want to say too much and inadvertently give things away - especially because to the best of my knowledge I'm penning the very first review of this book and it just wouldn't be fair to anyone to spoil anything when all y'all have to wait until February to read this - but there's this running theme of characters that are set up one way but turn out to be another. With the gods, especially, I really liked how they're set up as being super trustworthy, and yet depending on who you're dealing with, that may not be a quality they possess in any way.Another thing - and this is kind of random - that I really loved with this book was the turn of phrase within it. It's not anything major, but there's little transitional sentences that fully set the scene. This is mainly from the gods having to avoid lies by saying things like "Here's a story that I've heard" instead of saying something as a fact. For whatever reason, seeing a section start of with that introduction immediately segued me into a) being 8 years old again getting tucked into bed with my chapter books, or b) popping the popcorn to hear some serious gossip, depending on what else had just been narrated.The only "bad" thing - and I put this in quotes because it's only like a half bad thing - that I can say about this novel is that it's a little bit slow to start. But that's coming from me, and I think it's important to keep in mind I am a professional book nerd with little to no patience for slowness (there's a reason I'm still not caught up with the GoT books). I'm one of those people who gives up on books if they don't have my soul chewed up and spat out in 50 pages. This does not follow that formula, and that's OK. It does a properly executed slow-build. It takes a little more mental investment to get into, you have to think about it, and I can readily admit I was more than a little confused at the 50 page mark. The Raven Tower is worth sticking around to the end, though.All in all, this is a fantastic book. There's honestly so much more I could say about it, but for the sake of spoilers I'm going to stop now. Suffice it to say, this is a brilliantly executed novel that I'd highly recommend reading. I can't wait to hand-sell it in 2019.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Here is a story I’ve heard…Ann Leckie has written a highly absorbing, beautifully imagined fantasy novel, with a quirky, atmospheric and highly engaging character voice…I probably didn’t need to take the third party precautionary measure because I believe this to be true, but care in all things, especially when you pick up The Raven Tower because it will deprive you of sleep and leave you longing for more.In a world where God’s and human’s intertwine, a God cannot speak false. One God tells the Here is a story I’ve heard…Ann Leckie has written a highly absorbing, beautifully imagined fantasy novel, with a quirky, atmospheric and highly engaging character voice…I probably didn’t need to take the third party precautionary measure because I believe this to be true, but care in all things, especially when you pick up The Raven Tower because it will deprive you of sleep and leave you longing for more.In a world where God’s and human’s intertwine, a God cannot speak false. One God tells the tale of history and intrigue that has lead us to the events we are reading about here. About Iraden and the Raven God, about treason and political shenanigans , about a prince who returns to find his father gone and his Uncle in stolen power…This is an amazing novel, full of vividly imagined communities, historic power struggles, beautifully drawn, vibrant diverse  characters and a haunting, intelligently sprawling plot that holds you enthralled until it’s final, heart stopping moments..I will give nothing else away.I loved it entirely from the first word to the last. Brilliant.Highly Recommended.
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  • Bob Milne
    January 1, 1970
    Here is a story I have heard.It is a story that is easy to admire, to appreciate, to acknowledge as something wholly unique within the fantasy genre, and yet it is a difficult one to enjoy. You likely have never read a story quite like it, and whether you would like to read another is probably what will divide the fans from the frustrated.Here is another story I have heard.It is a story that is technically impressive, told with an unusual point-of-view, and through an original voice. You, for al Here is a story I have heard.It is a story that is easy to admire, to appreciate, to acknowledge as something wholly unique within the fantasy genre, and yet it is a difficult one to enjoy. You likely have never read a story quite like it, and whether you would like to read another is probably what will divide the fans from the frustrated.Here is another story I have heard.It is a story that is technically impressive, told with an unusual point-of-view, and through an original voice. You, for all intents and purposes, are the main character, and the voice of a god is speaking directly to you. That voice tells you what is happening to you, in the present tense. It tells you what you see, feel, hear, and know. If that sounds awkward and uncomfortable - patronizing, even - you are not alone, but I have heard that others loved it.Here is another story I have heard.It is a story with an intriguing mythology, one that is built slowly, repetitively, over centuries of existence. You are witness to a god coming into awareness, idly watching ages pass, as life crawls out of the oceans, humans begin to walk the land, and other gods learn to walk alongside them. You learn the power of worship and sacrifice alongside the voice of the god, even as it learns the power of language. As a prelude or a bit of storytelling within a story, it could be an effective balance to your story, the one being told about you and to you, but it can also be a distraction that holds back a pace that is already crawling.Here is another story I have heard.It is the story of you, your friend (and Master), his uncle (and usurper), and a few other key individuals in your life. They talk a lot, and argue a lot. They debate a lot, and question a lot. They, however, do not do a lot, and neither do you. In fact, as much as this is your story, you are not particularly interesting - I'm sorry - and neither are those around you. Maybe, if we could see them through your eyes, and get inside your head, everyone might come to life a little better, but as characters narrated by the god's voice, you are flat and colorless.Here is another story I have heard.It is the story of The Raven Tower, and the god's voice - along with your story - is related to us by Ann Leckie. An experimental work of meta-fiction, her telling is intelligent, complex, and multi-layered approach. She does an admirable job of capturing the god's voice, which I'm sure you can attest to, having heard it for hundreds of pages. It's just a shame that your story and the people in it weren't nearly as interesting as her telling.https://beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.com/...
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  • Timy
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 2.5 starsYou can find this review on my blog with my choice of music.I've got an ARC from Orbit in exchange of an honest review.Ever since I laid eyes on the cover and the blurb, I knew I had to read The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie. I was kind of obsessed with it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. Which I did over Christmas and was so happy that I just hugged it to my chest (ask James). So you can imagine how hyped I was when I could finally crack it open. I also have to ment Actual rating: 2.5 starsYou can find this review on my blog with my choice of music.I've got an ARC from Orbit in exchange of an honest review.Ever since I laid eyes on the cover and the blurb, I knew I had to read The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie. I was kind of obsessed with it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. Which I did over Christmas and was so happy that I just hugged it to my chest (ask James). So you can imagine how hyped I was when I could finally crack it open. I also have to mention here, that this was my first ever experience with an Ann Leckie book.The Raven Tower has two plotlines, both are told by the Strenght and Patience of the Hill, an ancient god. In one of the plotlines we learn about its story, how it had met with people and learned their language, we see history through its eyes, or at least the part it saw anyway or heard about through its friend the Myriad. Unless other gods, the Strenght and Patience of the Hill never wanted to change its form and so remained a stone. Since speaking was hard for it, it invented a language of its own – the people, its priests used tokens and learned how to translate them. We also learn about the history of Ard Vusktia and Vastai, two cities, part of Iraden, divided by the sea, fighting over dominance. Whoever had claim over the strait had the power, because this was the safest place to cross. On one side Ard Vusktia was home of several gods either major or minor, living together, being worshipped by humans in exchange of helping them out occasionally. On the other side, Vastai is being protected by a god called the Silent Forest, keeping enemies off their borders, preventing fires and sickness to plague the people. When the Raven appears he takes control over the land and declares his authority over the strait as well as Ard Vusktia. Thus a conflict begins which will lead to consequences neither side can handle.While we learn about the history and the centuries old conflict, we also follow the events in present Vastai, where the main god is the Raven – a mysterious being who appeared out of nowhere and took charge – , and thanks to an ages old pact his Lease is the ruler. When the Raven’s Instrument (a raven, in which the god reincarnates) dies, the Lease has to die as well as a sacrifice. His place is taken by the Heir and the cycle goes on. The Lease doesn’t rule alone, on his side there are the Silent Mother, the Silent Forest’s priestess and the head of the Council of Directions. At the beginning of the story, the current Lease disappears, his place is taken by his brother Hibal, even though his son and heir, Mawat is already on his way from the border where he tries to keep the Tel in check. With him comes his aide, Eolo, to whom the Strenght and Patience of the Hill tells its story.I think this was the first book I’ve read that was written partly in the second person. Can’t say I’ve become a fan of this style of writing. Kind of makes it even harder to connect with the characters. But then, they aren’t all that interesting to begin with. At one hand, we have a stone without feelings or much knowledge about the world outside of what it can sense or hear from its friends. And since its attention is mostly on Eolo, we learn more about him, but not enough to make the reader really sympathize with him or root for him or the others. We never learn why he is the one who gets the god’s attention, what makes him special. The world-building is also somehow lacking, thanks to the narrow POV. Personally I was left with many questions and only a few answers. The ending was very sudden and not too satisfying. While I understand why things happened and what were the god’s motivations, it took forever for the events to pick up and never really gained momentum. Everything is rather told than shown and so I couldn’t figure out why should I care about these people?Mawat, the Heir is angry and acts like a spoiled child whose toy was taken away when he finds out that his uncle took his place. First he locks himself away, then decides to protest by sitting naked in the middle of the main square – this is a common way of protest for the people of Iraden, though it doesn’t makes any more sense – until Eolo’s investigations prods him to take actions. Eolo is constantly asked if he is the “partner” of Mawat besides being his aide which is a big honor for someone whose ancestors are farmers. Anyway, Eolo sexual life has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, and not even relevant, but this is the only thing people of Vastai can come up when it comes to him. I guess understanding friendship must be hard for them. Tikaz, the daughter of the head of the Council of Directions, is the childhood friend of Mawat, and everyone expects them to get married. She refuses, because, I’ve no idea why. Because she has to appear as a strong and independent female character? Which is fine, but she is not. Or at least this doesn’t make her appear that. We don’t learn much more about her, except that her mother lives far away and she could go live with her if she wanted. Oh and she also fancies Eolo. No idea why, the guy is shy and has absolutely no appeal whatsoever – or if he does, we don’t know about it anyway.The “villains” in this book are supposed to be Hibal who took the position of the Lease and a pair of twins, Okim and Oskel. According to some legends, twins are considered evil, and though they are not left in the forest anymore, the people of Vastai still superstitious against them and treat them badly. And so, Okim and Oskel had become hard and bitter, the typical prototypes of bullies. It’s not clear if they know or suspect their true heritage which is the topic of rumors, but anyway their motivation for following Hibal is rocky at best.I had really high hopes for The Raven Tower. I expected to be swept away by mystery, magic and an intriguing plot. What I’ve got was a disappointing tale of a stone and a mystery unfurling ever so slowly and without much surprises. It’s a shame, because I wanted to love this book, but almost nothing worked for me. Maybe it was because of the narrative, being told the events by a “mere” bystander, the fact that there aren’t any chapters (even though the narrative between present and past are divided), or because the pace was too slow for my taste. But the fact that I couldn’t care about any of the characters remains, and that’s a flaw I can’t look over. Even so, don’t let my dissapointment affect you, I advice to make your own judgement. It actually has some cool ideas like the army the Forest sends to defend Vastai, or the way the gods communicate with people, even the Raven’s pact to have a Lease and a Heir at all times. It’s just a shame it couldn’t deliver the way I expected.If you like your epic fantasy to be less action packed and more focused on the events that lead to the main plot, you might find this one in your favor. The Raven Tower offers the tale of slow burning revange, sacrifice and tragedy.
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  • Libertie
    January 1, 1970
    Ann Leckie seems to enjoy writing books in which the main characters are big, sentient objects.I'm a bookseller who received an advance reader copy of the book after having the pleasure of meeting Ann at the SIBA Discovery Show. I was extremely excited about the work, having been a fan of "Ancillary Justice."Well, "The Raven Tower" lived up to my lofty expectations! Like the Ancillary Trilogy, this work showcases Ann's incredible skill for building fantastical realms. The central trope is a sort Ann Leckie seems to enjoy writing books in which the main characters are big, sentient objects.I'm a bookseller who received an advance reader copy of the book after having the pleasure of meeting Ann at the SIBA Discovery Show. I was extremely excited about the work, having been a fan of "Ancillary Justice."Well, "The Raven Tower" lived up to my lofty expectations! Like the Ancillary Trilogy, this work showcases Ann's incredible skill for building fantastical realms. The central trope is a sort of modified "be careful what you wish for" in which the power of gods is projected through words and these words must be used carefully because false statements can be fatal. One of my favorite things about the book is its masterful narration. Sliding between second and first person, the highly-stylized voice of the narrator -- who is a god, no less -- pulls off a sort of hedged-omniscience in which much cannot be said with certainty lest the narrator risk making an untrue statement. Two interwoven storeylines, one present and one past, make for a well-paced tale with a good bit of suspense and political intrigue.As an aside, I was very pleased by the queer and trans representation in this work. The human protagonist's gender is entirely secondary to the plot -- this is not a book that will be pigeonholed as "LGBTQ" or "feminist fantasy" -- but the author presents a world in which queerness is neither vilified nor normalized to the point of invisibility, and the strongest characters are not cisgender men.
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  • Allison
    January 1, 1970
    Oh how I love fantasy novels about GODS and the nature of DIVINITY and oh HOW THIS BOOK DELIVERED.
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    This was a funny little story. More Ancillary than Provenance, but I found myself wanting more plot. There is a lot of Hamlet here, complete with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.I love the narrator, but it almost feels like this started as short fiction about the Strength and Patience and then she's added a story to fill it out. I'm curious to see how this lands with the rest of the fantasy/spec fic world, because I could really see it going either way. But I'll end by saying that I really love tha This was a funny little story. More Ancillary than Provenance, but I found myself wanting more plot. There is a lot of Hamlet here, complete with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.I love the narrator, but it almost feels like this started as short fiction about the Strength and Patience and then she's added a story to fill it out. I'm curious to see how this lands with the rest of the fantasy/spec fic world, because I could really see it going either way. But I'll end by saying that I really love that Leckie keeps playing with different stories, characters, and hard to approach ideas. It would be so easy to keep producing what "works" but I'm happier with this 4 star effort than I'd have been with anything more safe.
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  • Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
    January 1, 1970
    More ravens... Why am I not surprised?
  • FanFiAddict
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 3.5/5 StarsThanks to Paola Crespo and the lovely people over at Orbit for an advanced reading copy of The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.SynopsisFor centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the go Rating: 3.5/5 StarsThanks to Paola Crespo and the lovely people over at Orbit for an advanced reading copy of The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.SynopsisFor centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods.It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo–aide to Mawat, the true Lease–arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself…and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.ReviewWell, first off, this title colored me intrigued because it was by Ann Leckie. To hear that she was publishing her very first fantasy novel , and then upon seeing the gorgeous cover by Lauren Panepinto, I was all over it. Though I haven’t read her Imperial Radch series, I have heard amazing fantastical things about it. Not to mention she is also the winner of several awards including the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke. So to say I had pretty high expectations going into it is an understatement.The Raven Tower is a unique and dark tale, one that, for me, is missing just a few key ingredients to make it something magnificent.Well, unfortunately, I was a little underwhelmed. I have been reading fantasy for a few years now (I know, humble brag) and feel like I have settled into a groove of what works and doesn’t work for me when it comes to good epic/grimdark/literary/etc fantasy novels. What absolutely doesn’t work for me is a lack of action, and boy does The Raven Tower lack action. The first half of the book is really just a build-up/re-telling of history up to this point in time and leads up to an ending that is decently satisfying. I mean, Leckie definitely does a fantastic job of leaving me wanting more by the end, but the trek to get there felt like climbing Everest, only to know you have to get back down.The book is written with a little bit of 1st person POV, told by the ancient God called the Strength and Patience of the Hill (which is mostly backstory), but a majority of novel is 2nd person where said God sees through and talks to a secondary character by the name of Eolo, even though Eolo can’t always hear what the God is saying. Basically, the God is narrating Eolo’s present life, giving us a glimpse into his story. Still no clue why the God has chosen Eolo has it’s primary talking stick, but I digress.The characters fell pretty flat on their faces for me. There isn’t one I can pick out of a lineup that I really felt for or continue to care about. It really just feels like a play where I am waiting for the 2nd act (and yes, the novel has a very Shakespearean feel with a spoonful of Hamlet helping the medicine go down). Even the Gods are pretty lackluster for playing with humanity like chess pieces, though to see man fight back with a little bit of gusto makes for an interesting last quarter.Overall, I can only assume Leckie has tons left to reveal is this story, but man do I hope she gets to it quickly. If I’m going to get through Book 2, I need some hackin’ and slashin’, some bloodied swords and heads on spikes. Maybe a God or two to duke it out over their next puppet. SOMETHING.
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my god I am obsessed with this. A masterful fantasy novel which is a mystery novel about politics and deep history and... religion, kind of, and. It’s beautiful and lyrical and surprising and queer and full of characters I love and characters I hate. In the best way.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    I always seem to begin my reviews of Ann Leckie's books by remarking that she has the fortunate/unfortunate situation of having written a first book so amazing that all her others will be compared to it; and that so far, for me, none of her other books have quite equalled it. That's the case again with this one, her first fantasy novel. It's good - I'd even say very good - but in the shadow of her first book, not quite as outstanding. Once again, it plays with point of view. This time, Leckie ha I always seem to begin my reviews of Ann Leckie's books by remarking that she has the fortunate/unfortunate situation of having written a first book so amazing that all her others will be compared to it; and that so far, for me, none of her other books have quite equalled it. That's the case again with this one, her first fantasy novel. It's good - I'd even say very good - but in the shadow of her first book, not quite as outstanding. Once again, it plays with point of view. This time, Leckie has chosen to write much of it in the difficult and much-despised second person. That can easily be a gimmick, and while reading I was never 100% convinced that it wasn't, but thinking about it, and especially reflecting on the ending, I've decided it was justified. The narrator is a god, who fills in a lot of important historical backstory in first person - backstory that isn't available to the protagonist in any way. But for most of the book, the god is largely passive, participating in events but not obviously driving them; it's the "you" character who is the protagonist, speaking to people and doing things and taking risks. Once again, it plays with gender; the protagonist is a trans man, which is fairly incidental as far as the plot goes, but important to him. Once again, it manages to both be personal and also have epic scope, which is a difficult balancing act. It can all too easily drop into a Great Man version of history with a full-on Chosen One whose every action is fated and bears vast significance; yet Leckie manages to hold it back from that precipice, to show us people with flaws and insecurities who are nevertheless able to participate in momentous events. In this case, the twist at the end gives rise to doubts about who was actually the protagonist after all. On the face of it, it's a relatively simple story. The protagonist is a soldier, aide to the heir to the position of Raven's Lease, a kind of proxy of the god known as the Raven. They arrive back from the disputed southern border, whence they have been recalled because the current Raven's Lease, the heir's father, was unwell, to discover a Hamletesque coup has been enacted and the heir's uncle has taken over as Lease. For the good of everyone, he assures anyone who will listen. The heir is petulant and brooding, the aide (Horatio, presumably) patient and effective, the Ophelia character sensible and competent - and very sane. While the Hamlet parallels are obvious (the Ophelia's counsellor father even gets stabbed, and the heir is blamed), they aren't followed slavishly; each element has a twist to it, and the ending is quite different. Interwoven with all of this is the millenia-long backstory of the struggles and conquests of the gods, which turns out to be a lot more significant than I initially realised to what seems to be the main plot. It's a clever, complex idea, well executed, which is to say that it's an Ann Leckie book. I dithered about whether to give it five stars, because the ending subverted my narrative expectations so thoroughly as to be a kind of disappointment, but for sheer quality I'm going to award the fifth star. I received a pre-release copy from Netgalley for review.
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  • Scout Maria
    January 1, 1970
    It’s 1:14 AM since I couldn’t go to sleep until I’d finished, so full review to come. In the meantime: !!!
  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    January 1, 1970
    FYI this novel is written in second person. Not my thing ever, so just putting it out there. Wouldn't have downloaded this if I'd known.
  • Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it! Full review pending until closer to the release date.
  • jaypee
    January 1, 1970
    That blurb ! Hot damn!
  • Ash
    January 1, 1970
    What IS this book? The blurb has me so mesmerized.
  • Pile By the Bed
    January 1, 1970
    Ann Leckie practically redefined what space opera could be with her debut Ancillary series. And in The Raven Tower she does a similar thing for fantasy. Using a Shakespeare meets Homer scaffold she brings a new twist on the relationship between humans and divine beings.The Raven Tower opens in second person. Writing in this way is always a bit of a high wire act. NK Jemisin used it to great effect in her Hugo winning Broken Earth trilogy. But there is method to Leckie’s madness (and great litera Ann Leckie practically redefined what space opera could be with her debut Ancillary series. And in The Raven Tower she does a similar thing for fantasy. Using a Shakespeare meets Homer scaffold she brings a new twist on the relationship between humans and divine beings.The Raven Tower opens in second person. Writing in this way is always a bit of a high wire act. NK Jemisin used it to great effect in her Hugo winning Broken Earth trilogy. But there is method to Leckie’s madness (and great literary skill). For a start, this technique avoids gendered pronouns and, as with the Ancillary series, Leckie plays with gender and the reader’s (and characters’) understanding of it. Secondly, it gives an immediate, almost omniscient feel which is appropriate given the book is narrated by a god.The main plot is taken straight out of Hamlet. Mawat, heir to the “throne” of Vastai (known as the Lease of the Raven) returns from the front with his aide Eolo to find his father, the former Lease, missing and his uncle in power. The Raven is one of the gods of Vastai and protects the Lease from harm on the understanding that they will sacrifice themselves at the end of their reign. Mawat’s father has failed to do that, instead mysteriously disappearing. To continue the Hamlet analogy one of the city’s key officials wants his daughter Tikaz (aka Cordelia) to marry Mawat and at one point Mawat’s uncle brings two of Mawat’s old acquaintances (aka Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) to bring him round. But the analogy is fairly loose, and none of the characters act as they do in the Shakespeare play, Tikaz is particularly kick-arse at one point.In the background is the story of the gods and a great war that they engaged in through their human worshippers. This story is told from the point of view of an ancient stone god who also explains the complex rules that govern these beings. It becomes clear fairly quickly that it is this god who is narrating by “talking” to Eolo (although Eolo cannot here this commentary). In the relationship between gods and humans as instruments of war, The Raven Tower starts to resemble The Iliad, just a little, but again, this is really only as a reference point.In an age where epic fantasy still seems to mainly consist of doorstops about quests and dragons and mighty houses and prophecies, The Raven Tower stands out. The characters are complex, the gender politics is subtly handled and the belief system is fascinating. The god’s narration has echoes with the real-world development of religion and both stories being told work and come together cleverly and consistently with the alternate but very familiar world that Leckie has created.Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy built itself on a number tropes established by other great authors but used them to change the ground rules of space opera. It also gave her a platform from which she could branch out into the equally enjoyable Provenance. The Raven Tower does the same, building on some giants of literary tradition and some of the standard fantasy building blocks but re-imagining them in a way that respects the genre builds on it in a new and intriguing way.
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  • Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
    January 1, 1970
    Strong book to end 2018 with, yay! As a preamble I haven't read Leckie's 'Imperial Radch' series; I tried and didn't manage to get through the first book simply because I didn't get it though I appreciate that it exists, for sure. I simply didn't feel smart enough to read it, like how some may struggle to read Shakespeare.This is Leckie's first fantasy novel - a genre I'm more comfortable in than science fiction (as much as I love it) so I thought I'd give it a go - Leckie is an amazing writer, Strong book to end 2018 with, yay! As a preamble I haven't read Leckie's 'Imperial Radch' series; I tried and didn't manage to get through the first book simply because I didn't get it though I appreciate that it exists, for sure. I simply didn't feel smart enough to read it, like how some may struggle to read Shakespeare.This is Leckie's first fantasy novel - a genre I'm more comfortable in than science fiction (as much as I love it) so I thought I'd give it a go - Leckie is an amazing writer, after all. Immediately upon starting the book you see that she's still doing clever things, writing in the usually-avoided second-person narrative, usually reserved for Choose Your Own Adventure books. It soon becomes apparent that that's not what this is at all - this is a God, who is omnisciently witnessing everything that comes before it. By page six I was hooked.There are two interwoven storylines, one present and one past, one where the God is talking about their very early days and the trials and tribulations that come with having anything and everything you say becoming immediately true - and one where the God is following young Eolo, who has come with his Lord Mawat (basically a Prince) who has returned home from fighting on the border to be told that his father has disappeared, and the power-hungry uncle has taken over the leadership 'for the good of the people'. Eolo sounds like a farmer's boy which lends people to underestimate him, giving chance for Eolo to hopefully discover what really happened to Mawat's father.This book is really very gripping - political intrigue aside - as it explores many different Gods and what takes up their time as hundreds and thousands of years pass by. The human characters, too, are interesting. I especially liked Tikaz who has been friends with Mawat since they were children, yet certainly is not in love with him. Daughter to one of the powerful advisors to first Mawat's father and then his uncle, she is not without her own power which was excellent to see.A very, very satisfying ending, too. 
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  • Tsana Dolichva
    January 1, 1970
    The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie was not at all what I expected. When I first heard that there would Leckie had written a fantasy book, I was ambivalent. I like her SF, but haven’t recently felt the need for new fantasy series in my life. But then some friends with early review copies started gushing about and I figured I might as well join their ranks.There are two main storylines in this book and both are told from the point of view of a god, in a world where there are many gods of different powe The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie was not at all what I expected. When I first heard that there would Leckie had written a fantasy book, I was ambivalent. I like her SF, but haven’t recently felt the need for new fantasy series in my life. But then some friends with early review copies started gushing about and I figured I might as well join their ranks.There are two main storylines in this book and both are told from the point of view of a god, in a world where there are many gods of different powers. One story tells the god’s history — first awareness, how the world has changed since then, learning to communicate with humans, etc — while the other story follows a human in the “present day”. The latter story is also told by the god so it’s actually I second person as though the god is speaking to the other protagonist.At first I was happy to go along with the interesting premise, before I had a clear idea of where the story was going. But then, once the threads started to come together, it became rather difficult to put the book down. Especially as it ramped up towards the end because gosh was that a dramatic ending that I’m not going to spoil (!!!).The easiest book to compare The Raven Tower to is Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, but only really because of the shared subject matter. The ideas of small gods are very similar, but aside from that the two books have little in common. I’m not sure I’ve read anything else similar to The Raven Tower. The intertwining of the two stories was expertly done, with many of the transitions leaving me wanting more, only to start reading the next section and be reminded that I had wanted more of that one too. I highly recommend The Raven Tower to fantasy fans, especially those who enjoy reading about different types of gods and different systems for the existence of said gods. I also recommend it to readers who are looking for standalone fantasy books. While it's possible more stories could be written in this world in the future, I think it's unlikely and would lessen the impact of this one.4.5 / 5 starsYou can read more of my reviews on my blog.
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  • Janie G
    January 1, 1970
    I rarely get excited about things these days, but I literally squealed with joy when I saw the Netgalley invitation to read The Raven Tower in my inbox. Ann Leckie writes books with characters and perspectives that are so very different from anything else out there. She often goes weird and it works. The Raven Tower alternates between first and second person (seriously!), the story told from the perspective of a god. The world Leckie creates is so interesting, I could have read thousands of page I rarely get excited about things these days, but I literally squealed with joy when I saw the Netgalley invitation to read The Raven Tower in my inbox. Ann Leckie writes books with characters and perspectives that are so very different from anything else out there. She often goes weird and it works. The Raven Tower alternates between first and second person (seriously!), the story told from the perspective of a god. The world Leckie creates is so interesting, I could have read thousands of pages of The Strength and Patience of the Hill describing its world. Unfortunately, some readers might not enjoy some aspects of this relatively slow paced narrative; occasional long conversations about how gods accomplish tasks tend to feel slow. But more patient readers will appreciate the payoff of rich world building hidden in these long passages. I stumbled upon Ann Leckie when I was feeling so tired of the predictability of many adventure hero fantasy books. Leckie writes books that move away from the well beaten path and they are a joy to read.I received a complimentary ARC via NetGalley. Thank you thank you thank you to the author and publisher!
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  • Fae Crate
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful world building and writing. Well developed and strong character growth and descriptions. The cover is very enticing and the description teases you to figure out what the book is actually about. I read this book in roughly a week and highly enjoyed it. Fans of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss will enjoy this book.
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  • Rendz
    January 1, 1970
    3.5Really. That's the ending! I've got some thoughts.Full RTC.
  • Bryn Hammond
    January 1, 1970
    Notable for its gods doing science -- figuring out scientific principles as they exist over the ages and watch the human species crawl out of the water and make societies.I definitely felt the gods' past-set story the most inventive part of this book. The human story that ran in tandem, present-day, seemed a bit simple for its size, so there was repetition, and more standard fare. In all, ideas-fantasy and most welcome. ARC through NetGalley.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Here’s a story I’ve heard:Ann Leckie has mastered dominos. She chooses tiles of many colours: raven black, stone grey, eggshell white. Those she chooses are placed in intriguing patterns, patterns that grow slowly. The tiles are never put down in order from first to last, and sometimes take all morning and most of the afternoon to place. But the placement itself is part of it. You’ll be glad to watch the dominos go up. Even gladder when she knocks them down. It only takes the slightest nudge. Th Here’s a story I’ve heard:Ann Leckie has mastered dominos. She chooses tiles of many colours: raven black, stone grey, eggshell white. Those she chooses are placed in intriguing patterns, patterns that grow slowly. The tiles are never put down in order from first to last, and sometimes take all morning and most of the afternoon to place. But the placement itself is part of it. You’ll be glad to watch the dominos go up. Even gladder when she knocks them down. It only takes the slightest nudge. The tiled paths have all connected somehow, most without you quite noticing. They flow outward in many directions as they fall. When they’ve all collapsed, borne down inexorably, you’ll realize you’re looking at mosaic. A final image that you couldn’t expect that shows you something different, something new.The image will stay with you until it’s time to set up the dominos again.** I received this ebook for free in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Clara
    January 1, 1970
    Such a strange, riveting, unsettling, wonderful book. The main character, the god telling the story, is someone I will remember for a long time, a very unconventional character that I managed to get extremely attached to. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.
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  • Matthew Burris
    January 1, 1970
    Three stars because it took me a while to get into the style and the end seemed rushed. But that said, I enjoyed the main characters and world building. Fantasy isn’t really my thing but sign me up for whatever Ann Leckie puts out next.
  • C.M. Spivey
    January 1, 1970
    I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for this review. Mild spoilers below.The TL:DR version of my review is that this was an interesting and innovative fantasy, with good trans-masc rep, that has excellent characterization and a mildly unsatisfying ending. I grabbed this one because I know a lot of fans of Leckie's work, but fantasy is much more my bag than science fiction. I tend not to research books very much before I pick them up, and because of that, I had no idea that the protagon I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for this review. Mild spoilers below.The TL:DR version of my review is that this was an interesting and innovative fantasy, with good trans-masc rep, that has excellent characterization and a mildly unsatisfying ending. I grabbed this one because I know a lot of fans of Leckie's work, but fantasy is much more my bag than science fiction. I tend not to research books very much before I pick them up, and because of that, I had no idea that the protagonist Eolo is a trans-masculine person; I am ALWAYS here for surprise queers* though, especially ones with my ID. *they don't have to be a surprise though, queerness is not a spoiler, queers are just as lovable when you know they're there, come onEolo's transness is subtle and not really part of the plot, which I enjoyed, but it's still clear and he passes pretty much without fail, with the exception of one scene: having cared for him while he was unconscious after an injury, and, we're expected to guess, seen him naked, another character Tikaz asks him if he's one of those women who cross-dresses to become soldiers or whether he's actually a man. While I wish non-consensual nudity could have been entirely avoided as a mechanism for establishing Eolo as AFAB, I think the scene was otherwise respectful. I find it important to note that Eolo never says he's a man; he merely says he is not a woman (thus, trans-masculine, rather than trans man). There is a scene where he vehemently refuses to enter a religious house that is only for women, even though his lord Mawat, a cis man, is going in, which I thought was a great addition. Also, for my aro and ace friends: no romance! Just a teeny bit of flirting.Contributing to the subtlety of Eolo's trans representation is the second-person narration. A god is speaking TO Eolo, telling him not only the god's own history but also what happens after Eolo and Mawat return to the capital city. I thought this was a clever way to avoid physical descriptions and pronouns for Eolo, as a way to establish him firmly as trans-masculine before revealing more of his history. I also liked it more generally as a storytelling device; especially when the god was describing the present action, it allowed for a really interesting ambiguity as to character motivations. Though its easy to read the god's guesses at Eolo's thoughts as reliable, he is a fascinating and enigmatic character through the god's eyes, which is, we're meant to understand, why the god noticed him and is speaking to him in the first place.That said, the first half of the book is dominated by the god relating their history, and while I liked it alright, Eolo and the present action was much more engaging. The long interludes of history slowed things down from an already slow pace, and it ended up a little frustrating to me. It's not until quite late in the book that the timelines converge, and while that convergence is satisfying, it took a long time to get to it. Readers need to enter this book with, ahem, strength and patience. On that note, though, the ending was the polar opposite; things came to a complete head in the last 15% of the book and it ended on an extremely sudden note. I don't necessarily mind and I think that it was in keeping with the mood of the book (how, I can't really explain, given that I've just talked about its slow pacing); but readers should be aware, I think.I greatly enjoyed that, while this is a political fantasy, the narration and the focus on Eolo kept it from feeling like a Game of Thrones-style dick-measuring contest. Eolo is outside the spheres of power, he's only attached to them insofar as he's an aide to Mawat, the heir; Mawat, too, is mainly a non-actor in the power struggle for much of the book, because of a custom in the world where one uses a public vigil to demand action, answers, and/or justice. Mawat spends several days in this vigil, while Eolo learns more about what's going on. His loyalty, curiosity, and empathy are the main drivers of the plot, which was really wonderful to read. The world-building was also really interesting. It reminded me of the classic pantheistic concept of gods, a little, in that there are powerful gods and less powerful gods, gods with broad abilities and niche gods, and I appreciated that most of the gods were not humanoid and sometimes not even really animate, the way we're used to. All told, a good read, would recommend.
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  • Brad Bell
    January 1, 1970
    I struggled to find a way to quantify this novel, I’m giving it 2.5 stars but I’ll round up since I usually like Leckie. It’s trying to be good but not great and it was a bit of a letdown, especially coming from an author who’s earlier books I really liked. Leckie’s first books were all sci-fi but this is her first foray into fantasy, and judging from this book I think she should stick to sci-fi.I was reminded of Jemisin’s “Inheritance Trilogy” when I started this book, although a far superior t I struggled to find a way to quantify this novel, I’m giving it 2.5 stars but I’ll round up since I usually like Leckie. It’s trying to be good but not great and it was a bit of a letdown, especially coming from an author who’s earlier books I really liked. Leckie’s first books were all sci-fi but this is her first foray into fantasy, and judging from this book I think she should stick to sci-fi.I was reminded of Jemisin’s “Inheritance Trilogy” when I started this book, although a far superior trilogy to this book, it has similar themes and plot. A story of Gods who love amongst people and are quarrelling and dealing with humanity. This book is very formless from the get go, jumping from two different stories that never actually meet up but some of the characters appear at the end of the book to loosely tie the two separate narratives together. I actually really enjoyed the story of Mawat and Eolo, and their quest to find out where is father disappeared to and his brothers quick succession to the job of Raven’s Lease. Unfortunately the other story about the God Myriad and God of Patience really dragged.I basically loved half of this book but could take or leave the other half and in a fantasy book you need to be invested and believe in the world that is built in the pages. Unfortunately I still don’t quite understand the rules of the world Leckie built and I didn’t like that we didn’t really find out about the Tel, a race of people bent on the city’s destruction. Who are they? Why do they want that? What’s their stories? This book doesn’t answer that, it just feels unfocused and I really like her writing just not this book. Back to her sci-fi!
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  • Jessica DiFelice (thefanaticreader)
    January 1, 1970
    I was very excited for this book, I love Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy and the world she created there, this however, fell a little short.I loved the world and the perspective we saw it through, I just felt detached for most of the story. We are told the story from a god's perspective, and then in second person about Eolo. The fact that we didn't actually get Eolo's first person narrative just didn't work for me. I didn't come to care about the characters, and what happened to them. It fel I was very excited for this book, I love Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy and the world she created there, this however, fell a little short.I loved the world and the perspective we saw it through, I just felt detached for most of the story. We are told the story from a god's perspective, and then in second person about Eolo. The fact that we didn't actually get Eolo's first person narrative just didn't work for me. I didn't come to care about the characters, and what happened to them. It felt very detached, and cold. This actually makes more sense as you get further along in the god's story about how he came to be where he is, and the things that happened to him, but for most of the novel, it just made me a little uninterested. The storytelling and writing was great, I appreciate what Leckie was doing with her perspectives and why she did it, but ultimately, it didn't necessarily work for me. I will still keep reading the books she puts out, but this wasn't a favourite. **I received this as an e-ARC from the publisher for a free and honest review on Netgalley**
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