The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication date: 28 February 2019
Page count: 416 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
The Raven Tower is a funny one because if you described it to me, I’d be sure it wouldn’t be my thing. However, I am so glad I took a chance on this weird and wonderful fantasy debut — I think it’s a book that will stick with me for a long time. Ann Leckie is the author of the mind-bending, completely cool Ancillary Justice. I adore that book and was so excited to see how her writing style would transfer over to fantasy.
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.
This book is split into two timelines told by the same character, who is one of the gods of this world. We have our main plotline, as seen above, but we get another that essentially him describing the beginning of the world and how civilization has developed. I would have fully expected to enjoy the main plot line more than the strange and philosophical secondary story, but it turned out to be my favourite part of the book. Our god, The Strength and Patience the Hill, is a marvelous character and an excellent storyteller. Both timelines of the book are told from his perspective, but in the second person — he is speaking to a character named Eolo, the aide to the spoiled heir Mawat. This added another interesting layer to an already fascinating story.
The world building in this book is marvelous and so well done, if strange. I started the book utterly confused because the government system is so strange and unique, but I got used to it very quickly and fell into the world very quickly. I usually don’t enjoy books that feature gods, however Leckie did such a great job of making them stand out as unique, interesting beings that are far from omniscient and perfect.
It’s really hard to talk about this book without ruining too much for you — it’s the perfect book to just dive straight into without knowing much about it. I fell in love with the world and The Strength and Patience of the Hill’s stories, and was incredibly satisfied with the way the conflict of the main storyline resolved. If you’re after a unique fantasy read filled with philosophy and intrigue, I couldn’t recommend The Raven Tower more highly.
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