Ninefox Gambit

{4.5/5} “She was looking out of the window as they arced into the sky, so she saw the waiting Kel bannermoth drop two bombs, neat and precise, on the site they had just left. A day’s worth of hard battle and the entire objective rendered irrelevant by high explosives. She kept watching until the explosions’ bright flowers dwindled into specks just large enough to trouble the eye.”

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, published in 2016

When Captain Kel Cheris engages in too much original thinking during a campaign, she’s taken away from her company and given new orders. Her proposal to defeat the heretics at the Fortress of Scattered Needles is accepted — revive the undead General Shuos Jedao. Jedao was a brilliant tactician, but he had also gone insane and become a mass murderer. Then she finds out that the way this will work is Jedao’s personality will accompany her own in her head.

It’s about soldiers who have “formation instinct,” programming that ensures they follow orders no matter what. In addition to the humans involved in events, we also see things from the point of view of servitors, artificial beings who have become sentient.

It answers (or starts to answer — there are sequels) the question: What happens if your very best soldier doesn’t like the government he’s fighting for?

There’s lots to like, but one aspect I didn’t. There is some use of language that’s just too confusing. Here’s an example: “At the edges of the formation, the non-pivot positions, humans and servitors both, were changing into pillars of candescent numbers.”

This is the 1st book I’ve read by Lee.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 at 8:36 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply