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Ninefox Gambit (Machineries of Empire Book 1) by [Lee, Yoon Ha]
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Ninefox Gambit (Machineries of Empire Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 384 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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When Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for her unconventional tactics, Kel Command gives her a chance to redeem herself, by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake: if the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress. The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own.

As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.

‘Starship Troopers meets Apocalypse Now – and they’ve put Kurtz in charge... An unmissable debut.’
Stephen Baxter

‘I love Yoon’s work! Full of battles and political intrigue, in a beautifully built far-future that manages to be human and alien at the same time.’
Ann Leckie

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1042 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Solaris (14 June 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01EBE05X2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,968 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Dark sci-fi. Engrossing. I look forward to subsequent books.
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Intriguing from the first few pages, well paced and entertaining throughout. Portrays humanity as it has been all too often and projects that believably into the far future. For me, the intentions of the general would have been better as a prologue as it became obvious quite soon which made the plot lines to "keep us guessing " as bit clunky. That and the sometimes randomly introduced tech weapons are all that kept me from giving 5 stars. Looking forward to the next book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 180 reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly funny scifantasy 3 July 2016
By Duodentes - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hard to nail down. In essence: Orwellian socio-political environment based on rigorous adherence to a belief system (calendar) analogous to a universal religion (without divinities) that the ruling class uses to control. So heresies (different calendars) have to be stamped out by military action, usually involving mass murder by highly expendable troops. There are space ships and ground troops and weird weapons that are maybe possible under the laws of physics and biology but aren't explained except by their effects.

But the weird weapons are mostly chrome--thought experiments from the writer's toy box, which isn't to say they aren't entertaining since all the deaths and mutilations they cause don't seem particularly real. The affecting deaths generally involve ordinary weapons.

Similarly, the worldbuilding's surface complexity is an impressive pyrotechnic display that will turn off many readers who bother to try to understand it and hoodwink many others who think they do. Underneath it all is a sound character-driven story that focuses on the protagonist, Cheris, and her developing symbiotic/synergistic relationship with a disembodied hero/traitor general, Jedao, kept in storage for military emergencies. Teacher and student, a consciousness ruthlessly determined to survive to accomplish a goal and a young officer with mad math skills. Most readers will sympathize with the goal (not achieved in this book, which is the first of a series that I hope isn't too long because I'm not getting any younger).

Despite the sheer quantity of deaths and sacrifices and murders, I liked Ninefox Gambit mainly because I found it to be unexpectedly funny. It has a great deal of biting satire, wittiness, and situational humor. It put me in mind of Richard Condon (Manchurian Candidate, Prizzi's Honor) as well as the worlds (but not the plots) of Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World.

And don't forget the sentient zooform robots (servitors).
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The strange and striking mathematics/technology didn't quite work for me. 18 March 2017
By Mary Soon Lee - Published on
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"Ninefox Gambit," Yoon Ha Lee's first novel, is one of this year's Nebula-award nominees. It's a highly original science fiction novel, and I can see why it was nominated for the Nebula. The far-future technology is connected to a bizarre application of mathematics linked to calendars, and somehow supported by ritual torture. A strange and striking premise. Unfortunately, I found that premise confusing and unpersuasive. My first degree was in mathematics, but the references to equations and number theory didn't come together for me. The fault may be mine.

Setting the mathematics/technology to one side, the plotting is strong. There is ample action (with a high body count) and a generous helping of intrigue. Of the book's two central characters, I found Jedao far the more fascinating. Cheris was the kind of point-of-view character that I know I am expected to like by default, but in this case I didn't. (I didn't *dislike* her, but that's a lukewarm recommendation.) Perhaps I needed a moment near the beginning where Cheris actively did something to win my sympathy. I had a similar difficulty when I began Scott Lynch's debut fantasy novel, "The Lies of Locke Lamora." I knew that I was meant to like Locke Lamore, but it took me until page 145 to do so, though I enjoyed the flamboyance of Lynch's style from the start. In the case of "Ninefox Gambit," I reached the end of the book without much warming to Cheris.

For me the book's strengths were Jedao, the servitors (an appealing and interesting version of mobile robots), and several excellent scenes. For example, without disclosing what happened, and despite my lack of belief in the accompanying technobabble, I found the end of chapter 18 brilliant: lyrical, moving, memorable.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend to fans of Ann Leckie's Ancillary series 22 June 2016
By dave ring - Published on
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Somewhat dense at the beginning, but thoroughly hypnotizing once it got going. Despite the tip-off from the back jacket copy, I was still taken completely by surprise by how the author handled an early plot point. Would recommend to fans of Ann Leckie's Ancillary series.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steep Learning Curve but Worth it! 5 August 2016
By SMS - Published on
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Ninefox Gambit is a book I wouldn’t recommend if you mind being dumped into something head first with little to no explanation. Having finished the book I’m still not 100% I have the scope of the story or understand it after finishing it but I loved what I think I understand. Basically you’re put into a space faring, militaristic culture where the belief in the calendar and the appointed holidays and celebration days keeps reality stable. If something varies from the calendar (numerically) it causes rot or problems. There are a lot of neat other things like ‘exotic’ weapons that tie into the calendar system and the big things too like the way people march into battles. I’m most definitely going to reread this one to get a better scope on it, I super excited to read the second next year, so it’s high on my list of anticipated releases.
Inside this fairly complicated world we follow Cheris as she is singled out to lead a strike group on a rebellion. She ends up tied to another General for the duration of this operation. His input is necessary even if he’s a special kind of undead. Cheris herself, while a solider, is a mathematical genius so her strengths work well with General Jedao. That being said Jedao is a dangerous man who has done some pretty… foul things in his past.
The book, while seeming to focus at first on the nuances of the world like the science and politics eventually swings into the characters themselves and how they interact with these things. It takes more of a look at their relationship as well. It was incredibly fun to try and follow Jedao and Cheris. It’s never clear to the reader till the very end if he’s a madman, a genius, or just the luckiest person in the world. That was incredibly smart. I found the world interesting and the politics just as interesting but the book really hooked me with that change to characters.
I had a blast with this, even if it took me about 60 or 70 pages to understand what I was dealing with in the world. It’s a mix of science and fantasy that makes for a wildly unique world. In the end some of the reveals you get about Jedao are amazing and some things I never actually saw coming, so well done! I do wish we’d seen more of the characters the book opens with and while I did figure out the system in the book just a little bit more information would have been fantastic. However with this being the first in the trilogy I’m sure we’ll see more of both the characters and the how-to of the world.
I almost forgot but guys - the servitors are probably my favorite tiny factor of this book. I want those to be so important in the story. So important. I feel like they really personify the story in a weird way at the end. So good.

Just a note : I’d also like to say there is a character with a learning disorder in this book that I myself have so seeing that in someone in what I read tickled me! I had been reading the story actually thinking ‘I’d never make it in this world unless I just got really good at espionage or shooting things’. The importance to the story was just so neatly handled. Bravo!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT your basic military war novel. In the best way the antithesis of a Honor Harrington novel. Good for it! 22 April 2017
By Adam Bridge - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Okay, you know how Clarke wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to us as magic? Now write a book where that's exactly the case -- it's a war novel where the weapons are difficult even to grasp and the way the culture works is so different that it's difficult to grasp.

I often found myself floundering around while I read this. Did that just happen? What happened? Why? It takes a careful read, a thoughtful read. This might be better as a book instead of a Kindle document because I found myself wanting to flip back and forth - oh, yes, now I get it.

The novel is fair and consistent inside itself. Things happen between paragraphs so you have to be watching out for that. That's not a bad thing in itself - but it's unexpected.

So if you want to sort of grok the rules as you go along, maybe not getting them at all or perhaps just worried that you haven't, you'll like the book. But this isn't standard military fiction (a GOOD thing.) It's complicated, thoughtful, and human (in its way). I haven't made up my mind if I'll read the next volume when it comes out. I may have to re-read this one first. I might give it another star then.