Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

The novel “Revenant Gun” by Yoon Ha Lee was published for the first time in 2018. It’s the third book in The Machineries of Empire series and follows “Raven Stratagem”.

Shuos Jedao remembers being 17 years old and a cadet but his body is clearly much older, with scars that indicate he was wounded in the war. Hexarch Nirai Kujen explains to him that he’s a general and orders him to reconquer the planets that broke away from the Hexarchate.

Nine years after a heavy blow was dealt to the Hexarchate, the forces that broke away from it are preparing for a new clash. Kel Cheris has her own plans, which include an investigation aimed at uncovering the secrets of Hexarch Nirai Kujen.

The trilogy “The Machineries of Empire” is a mix of genres and subgenres, as it’s based on what are called esoteric technologies. The developments seen over the course of the various novels show how those technologies work rigorously but are always based on the soldiers’ conditioning and ritualism also linked to the calendar and belief in it. The clash between different conditionings and ritualisms is an element that becomes important in this final book of the trilogy.

The military science fiction element also remains important in “Revenant Gun” although it’s very much linked to the political intrigue element. It was already central in “Raven Stratagem” and in the third book, the consequences of those events are developed nine years later. Despite that gap, the trilogy is one big story and you need to have read the previous two books to understand first of all some of the rules related to the esoteric technologies the Hexarchate is based on.

The story of General Shuos Jedao, brought back to life centuries after his original life, fully shows how what we can consider to all intents and purposes magic can be mixed with very advanced technologies. Jedao is linked to events that are controversial, to say the least in the history of what was a heptarchate and then became a Hexarchate but even he becomes the object of various types of manipulation.

It can be said that this is a case in which a character is both executioner and victim, even at the same time. Jedao’s story is truly complex, as it’s developed over the course of the trilogy and Yoon Ha Lee manages to add a new level of complexity in “Revenant Gun” which emerges from the beginning with Jedao suffering from amnesia, at least apparently.

These manipulations are part of the broader theme connected to the intrigue that already became central in the second book. I preferred the way it was used in “Revenant Gun” because it’s less tied to certain characters’ quirks and idiosyncrasies and more to esoteric technologies. In my opinion, this choice allowed to better exploit the peculiarities of this fictional universe and at the same time continue to develop some characters.

“Raven Stratagem” left me with some doubts related to Yoon Ha Lee’s choices while “Revenant Gun” brought back positive feelings for the plot developments which I preferred because I found them more interesting, with twists that seemed to me better constructed.

You need to immerse yourself in this fictional universe to be able to appreciate this trilogy but if you’re looking for a science fiction series with original elements, consider The Machineries of Empire series. The trilogy ends with “Revenant Gun” but Yoon Ha Lee also wrote some short stories set in the same fictional universe that can be considered an extra that is not essential. It’s available on Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

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