Fantasy Review: The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Here is a story I have heard.

It is a story that is easy to admire, to appreciate, to acknowledge as something wholly unique within the fantasy genre, and yet it is a difficult one to enjoy. You likely have never read a story quite like it, and whether you would like to read another is probably what will divide the fans from the frustrated.

Here is another story I have heard.

It is a story that is technically impressive, told with an unusual point-of-view, and through an original voice. You, for all intents and purposes, are the main character, and the voice of a god is speaking directly to you. That voice tells you what is happening to you, in the present tense. It tells you what you see, feel, hear, and know. If that sounds awkward and uncomfortable - patronizing, even - you are not alone, but I have heard that others loved it.

Here is another story I have heard.

It is a story with an intriguing mythology, one that is built slowly, repetitively, over centuries of existence. You are witness to a god coming into awareness, idly watching ages pass, as life crawls out of the oceans, humans begin to walk the land, and other gods learn to walk alongside them. You learn the power of worship and sacrifice alongside the voice of the god, even as it learns the power of language. As a prelude or a bit of storytelling within a story, it could be an effective balance to your story, the one being told about you and to you, but it can also be a distraction that holds back a pace that is already crawling.

Here is another story I have heard.

It is the story of you, your friend (and Master), his uncle (and usurper), and a few other key individuals in your life. They talk a lot, and argue a lot. They debate a lot, and question a lot. They, however, do not do a lot, and neither do you. In fact, as much as this is your story, you are not particularly interesting - I'm sorry - and neither are those around you. Maybe, if we could see them through your eyes, and get inside your head, everyone might come to life a little better, but as characters narrated by the god's voice, you are flat and colorless.

Here is another story I have heard.

It is the story of The Raven Tower, and the god's voice - along with your story - is related to us by Ann Leckie. An experimental work of meta-fiction, her telling is intelligent, complex, and multi-layered approach. She does an admirable job of capturing the god's voice, which I'm sure you can attest to, having heard it for hundreds of pages. It's just a shame that your story and the people in it weren't nearly as interesting as her telling.

Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2019 by Orbit

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.


  1. Hmmm. It sounds like this might be more technically interesting than absorbing for itself? Still, I'm hopeful for it!


Post a Comment