The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Raven Tower is a fantasy succession struggle murder mystery, where part of the mystery lies in whether there was truly a murder. An immersive setting and slightly disconcerting second person narration create a tale of gods, the price of power, twisted language, and loyalty. 

The story was interesting but mostly fine, but, for me at least, the real strength in this book is in how it slowly revealed what the story actually was, like a tide slowly going out. Most of the pieces were technically in place early on, but the way their importance is revealed creates a slow-burning mystery with a pretty dramatic finale. The world-building is great, the interpersonal relationships are complex in a good way without being too much to keep track of. It felt calm and meditative to read, prompting a lot of interesting thoughts about the nature of language and communication in a practical way (which I quite enjoyed). 

This was good but disconcerting for me personally, especially in the early part of the book. A large portion of it is written in second person, and the character addressed in this manner is male, which caused some trouble since my pronouns are they/them (not he/him). After I adjusted to it and felt less like I was being personally being addressed with incorrect pronouns it was fine, but that took at least fifty pages. The narrative decision to use a mix of first and second person results in a book that is narrated from a single point of view while following two main characters. Overall I think I like it, it works very well for this story. Both main characters are very different and I like them a lot. The tropes that were put together to create the characters are ones I've seen before, some of them many times, but something about the way they come together to make them (especially the non-human ones) feel fresh, As much as I like the POV character, I think Myriad is the one I'd most like to meet (followed closely by Eolo). 

CW for brief transphobia, discussion of infanticide, discussion of suicide, anti-twin prejudice in a fictional culture, massacre, parental death, major character death. 

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A close-up view of an ornate gold door-knocker on a black door.


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