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.
Let’s start off with something I’m sure everybody’s talking about and arguing over: this book was written in the second person POV. Which means that you have a narrator (unknown for the first half of the novel) talking to the main character, Eolo. Obviously, Eolo can’t hear this narration happening…think of it like when you’re driving along, all sunshine and daisies, when another driver swerves in front of you and you start angrily yelling at said driver. The driver can’t hear you. But you yell about their terrible driving habits anyway. It’s like that, though less angry and more thoughtful. And woah Nelly, if there’s one thing this narrator is, it’s thoughtful.
And surprisingly…I didn’t hate it. I thought it would be confusing, distracting, and difficult to follow (as I don’t read many stories in the 2nd person POV), but nope. If anything, I devoured the story because (for me, at least) I wanted the identity of the narrator to be revealed. Because I kept flip-flopping back and forth between who I thought it might be and I love the building tension of a good mystery.
Which was just one of the many mysteries inherent in the novel, all fixated on the fascinating premise of the Raven’s Lease, the Raven’s Heir, and the Raven god himself. The political, economic, and power plays at work within the empire of Iraden and the countries beyond were fascinating to watch unfold, especially within the small cast of characters. This is my first Leckie novel, but I appreciated how the flaws within the system of government became one of the root problems the characters faced, and I believe she did a fantastic job conveying that.
The system of magic the gods utilized was likewise fascinating. Seemingly all-powerful until, like one of the gods within the novel came to realize, you examine the dangerous limitations. I’m a sucker for any kind of magic system the involves precise word usage, which was exactly what we had here. And which tied beautifully into the theme of power and dominance.
This novel was beautifully written, carefully crafted, and delightful to read. It left me with one of my most severe cases of book hangover. I borrowed it from my local library…and now, I’m having trouble giving it back. 5 out of 5 stars!