Oh look at this, and ARC review that is being published BEFORE the book itself is actually published. Wow. I can really work some miracles, I guess.
I requested this without even doing much research. I saw it was a “Divine Intervention Book” a.k.a. what I call books when there are gods involved that mess up the characters lives and I sent my email so fast. Like there is no better hook, line and sinker for me than the Divine Intervention trope.
THE RAVEN TOWER BY ANN LECKIE
Pub Date: Feb 26th, 2018
Price: $34.00 CAD
Genres: Adult Fantasy, SF
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.
*Thank you for the ARC, HBG Canada!*
What I Liked:
Very Shakespearean…I see you Hamlet
It’s not that hard to tell that this book draws heavily from Hamlet. Of course there are several key differences in the narrative and the “Hamlet” character is not the star of the show, it’s Horatio a.k.a. Eolo. I really enjoyed the similarities I could pick out (I drew all the parallels to the play on my own *feels gassed*), but the politics of it all was very different. So while the story had loose threads connecting it to the play, the plot itself was different, which I liked.
However, I didn’t see any rendition of the To Be or Not To Be line…so that was maybe only a tiny bit disappointing. Unless I missed it and it went way over my head (which is highly possible).
The Voice was Interesting
It’s literally a rock. A god in a stone, but still a stone! And it is not a boring stone, but one with lots of history and knowledge. Leckie did a great job in evoking that wise, all-knowing voice to the story. It’s told in second person narrative, so the “I” referred to the god in the stone whereas the “you” referred to Eolo and not me, which after a while, I got used to it. Considering this was my first time reading a book in this style, I enjoyed it very much.
It really had some good Meddling Gods
Not just the stone god, as there were many meddling gods to be had. I especially loved their history in their own creation and their limits of existence. There is a lot of history to be had and I was a little confused at the beginning, but Leckie is able to describe with such beautiful imagery that really helped keep me invested. I also really enjoyed the way the gods had to use their magic. Their magnitude of power was both a blessing and a curse, so getting to read their larger story in relation to the puny human adventure was fun.
*I don’t know if this spoilery, it might be, beware, but I don’t think so(???)*
**START OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS**
It’s not tagged on Goodreads or stated in the synopsis, but this book stars a transgender character and the society they are living in is not exactly hetero-normative. The story isn’t about Eolo’s transition, but it is nonetheless a fantastical journey starring a trans man!
I feel like a lot of more people would be wanting to pick this book up if they knew! (Then again, it might do the opposite and lure people in who wouldn’t read about LGTBQ characters) I kind of knew from the beginning he was trans, so I don’t think mentioning it would be much of a spoiler. I cannot be certain whether it’s good or questionable rep, but from what I read in the book and other reviews, people found it to be okay.
**END OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS**
What I Found Questionable:
I felt like we didn’t get to really dive in to other character ARCs beyond the surface. Since the stone-god only really talked about their own past and about Eolo, I felt like the surrounding cast had little to no development beyond what some of their Hamlet counterparts contained. I just felt like the story would have held a lot more richness if some of the other characters had a bigger role to play in Eolo’s journey. No one had much substance to them which was disappointing, in my opinion.
Super talk-y no action
More than half of this book is the stone-god relating tales and talking about the past. The story stems two timelines one in the past and one in the present. Due to this, both have need to a little backstory so sometimes I got confused. There are also no chapter divisions, just page breaks (which is usually a no-no for me, personally). The action and the twists really start to come out towards the last 30% of the novel. It’s good action, but not the greatest. I’m sure it is supposed to conjure high feelings of suspense and intensity, but I was just feeling medium levels of “omg”, if that makes any sense. I think I was more relieved that something was finally happening because the previous 70% had been very slow moving.
The Ending is not an ending and while I didn’t dislike it, I actually kind of liked it, I still have a lot of questions…mostly will there be a sequel to clean up this mess? But I’m also okay if there is no sequel because I liked the question that I was left off with. *As usual I contradict myself*
Overall, it was good, but the story didn’t blow me away. Like I expected deception to the deepest root, but I kind of got deception on the surface level. It was good, just not jaw dropping, stars in my eyes good. I think this is mostly due to my love for fast-paced plots and this one was very slow with lots and lots of exposition.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Recommend: Yes, because this book has rep we *hardly* ever see in fantasy!
Let me know what you think! Do you enjoy “Divine Intervention” stories? Will you be picking this book up? What are some of your favourite Adult retellings?