WRITTEN BY REBECCA LANGHAM
MAIN PAIRING: Nil. Very light on romance - subtle undertones of a M(trans)/F relationship and brief mention of M/M relationships
REP: Trans main character
After four successful sci-fi novels, The Raven Tower constitutes Ann Leckie’s first foray into the fantasy genre.
The story begins with the disappearance of the Lease of Iraden, a ruler who owes the Raven a debt of blood that must be paid lest Iraden lose its divine protection. The Lease’s tempestuous heir, Mawat, refuses to believe his father has shirked responsibility, and begins a gentle unfolding of machinations that lead Iraden to political and spiritual crossroads.
The narrator, like most aspects of The Raven Tower, is not what you’d expect. This ageless, rock-bound deity has a story to share with a human named Eolo. The Strength and Patience of the Hill does not meddle in the lives of humans as other gods do, but rather stares at the stars, contemplating what it means to possess power, and what limits power may have. We discover the deity’s fate is strangely entwined with Iraden’s.
Intelligent, compassionate and diplomatic, Eolo is a fabulous protagonist. He is the humble son of a farmer who has become a trusted aide to the Lord Mawat. Eolo’s transgender identity is a passing mention in a world where diversity is a natural occurrence of the cultural landscape. Eolo’s penetrating dialogue and complex characterisation are the strongest aspects of the story.
It is complex to discuss the magnificent revelations of this novel without giving the ending away. Unconventional in its low action—there’s barely a sword or sorcerer in sight—the book establishes and maintains a taut sense of intrigue.
The Raven Tower is an ambitious novel that explores new territory and that in itself warrants praise.