Thoughts and Review: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

NineFoxNineFox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee


Published by Solaris
Publication Date : June 14th, 2016
Available as eBook & Paperback – 360 Pages
Source : NetGalley (Thank You!) & Purchased

The first installment of the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit, centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate.

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.


Ninefox Gambit is a book I wouldn’t recommend if you mind being dumped into something head first with little to no explanation. Having finished the book I’m still not 100% I have the scope of the story or understand it after finishing it but I loved what I think I understand. Basically you’re put into a space faring, militaristic culture where the belief in the calendar and the appointed holidays and celebration days keeps reality stable. If something varies from the calendar (numerically) it causes rot or problems. There are a lot of neat other things like ‘exotic’ weapons that tie into the calendar system and the big things too like the way people march into battles. I’m most definitely going to reread this one to get a better scope on it, I super excited to read the second next year, so it’s high on my list of anticipated releases.
Inside this fairly complicated world we follow Cheris as she is singled out to lead a strike group on a rebellion. She ends up tied to another General for the duration of this operation. His input is necessary even if he’s a special kind of undead. Cheris herself, while a solider, is a mathematical genius so her strengths work well with General Jedao. That being said Jedao is a dangerous man who has done some pretty… foul things in his past.
The book, while seeming to focus at first on the nuances of the world like the science and politics eventually swings into the characters themselves and how they interact with these things. It takes more of a look at their relationship as well. It was incredibly fun to try and follow Jedao and Cheris. It’s never clear to the reader till the very end if he’s a madman, a genius, or just the luckiest person in the world. That was incredibly smart. I found the world interesting and the politics just as interesting but the book really hooked me with that change to characters.
I had a blast with this, even if it took me about 60 or 70 pages to understand what I was dealing with in the world. It’s a mix of science and fantasy that makes for a wildly unique world. In the end some of the reveals you get about Jedao are amazing and some things I never actually saw coming, so well done! I do wish we’d seen more of the characters the book opens with and while I did figure out the system in the book just a little bit more information would have been fantastic. However with this being the first in the trilogy I’m sure we’ll see more of both the characters and the how-to of the world.
I almost forgot but guys – the servitors are probably my favorite tiny factor of this book. I want those to be so important in the story. So important. I feel like they really personify the story in a weird way at the end. So good.

Just a note : I’d also like to say there is a character with a learning disorder in this book that I myself have so seeing that in someone in what I read tickled me! I had been reading the story actually thinking ‘I’d never make it in this world unless I just got really good at espionage or shooting things’. The importance to the story was just so neatly handled. Bravo!

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