Just a constant pendulum between the profound and the banal. I don’t know if it’s just too vague about everything or if it’s a book that will blow the mind of a person who hasn’t done creative work before.
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There's so many good bits and little shiny details in this epic redemption journey. In the past, a simple occupation mission by an atrocious all-conquering invasion force goes awry with a mysterious conspiracy coming to a head. The protagonist is an AI ship consciousness multiply embodied in enslaved human soldiers. A crisis builds under the watchful eye of an empress that rules from within thousands of bodies.
In the present, the aftermath of the crisis is our protagonist singly embodied, troubled by the atrocities it committed and dedicated to a hopeless mission of vengeance.
There is a lot of dealing with a... not an untrustworthy narrator but an extremely neurodivergent naive narrator. Lots of fun gender issues and language issues that present as interesting puzzles for the reader.
Witch King flips back and forth between two times. One is a mystery - who trapped us? What intrigue is afoot and how can we foil it. The other is a rising challenge, a hopeless rebellion against an overwhelming authority.
Both are told with strength and warmth- our protagonist is frankly a bit of a shit in the beginning, but we learn why and see where they are coming from and where they are supported more than they see.
It ends with the perfect ending for a mystery and the aftermath of a rebellion. The story is done.
I’d absolutely enjoy another book in this world but this stands well all by itself.
It is as though in every moment of its life, a complex system is enveloped by a shimmering cloud of adjacent possibles, all the possibilities that might evolve in the very next moment.
A cultivated, quenched disorder is so important to keep systems flowing. Not all disorders!