James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > By Contributor

Reviews by Contributor: Lee, Yoon Ha (5)

War Paint

Phoenix Extravagant

By Yoon Ha Lee  

23 Mar, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

0 comments

Yoon Ha Lee’s 2020 Phoenix Extravagant is a (thus far) standalone fantasy. It’s also a mecha adventure. It’s genre-fluid.

Six years ago, the Empire of Razan invaded and conquered Hwaguk, which then became the drab Administrative Territory Fourteen, Artist Jebi is a survivor. They apply for a name change (a Razan-acceptable name) and a job as an artist for the new administration. Jebi’s sister, a Hwaguk nationalist, disapproves but hey … Jebi is a realist.

Jebi does not get the position for which they applied. They get a job offer they cannot refuse. 


Read more ➤

So Far Away

Dragon Pearl

By Yoon Ha Lee  

18 Jan, 2019

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

1 comment

Yoon Ha Lee’s 2019 Dragon Pearl is a standalone science fantasy novel. 

Thirteen-year-old Min is a magical fox girl. Other supernatural races may be respected throughout the Thousand Worlds, but not foxes. Foxes are seen as untrustworthy and murderous. Min is brought up to conceal her fox nature from neighbours on Jinju. 

Min is biding her time, waiting to turn fifteen, when she will be eligible to join the Thousand Worlds’ space force. That’s one way off backwater Jinju. She knows even a fox can do this, because her older brother Jun managed it. 

One day an investigator appears, with bad news about Jun. 

Read more ➤

Everybody Knows

Revenant Gun  (Machineries of Empires, book 3)

By Yoon Ha Lee  

23 May, 2018

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

0 comments

2018’s Revenant Gun is the third volume in Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy.

Seventeen-year-old Shuos Jedao wakes to discover he is actually over four centuries old. Most of his memories have been stolen by the enemy. Despite having few conscious memories of military experience, he is expected to command a vast military in a war over the fundamental rules of existence. 

Read more ➤

Scrawled Upon My Soul

Raven Stratagem  (Machineries of Empire, book 2)

By Yoon Ha Lee  

18 Jul, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

0 comments

2017’s Raven Stratagem is the second novel in Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series. The first novel in the series, Ninefox Gambit, was reviewed here. Readers are well advised to read Ninefox Gambit before reading Raven Stratagem.

The Hexarchate is far too sensible to rely on the obedience of soldiers with free will. Instead, every soldier of the Kel has no choice in the matter, thanks to formation instinct conditioning. To see a superior officer is to be compelled to obey them. It’s a system designed to make mutiny impossible. For the person wearing senior officer Cheris’ body, it means that taking control of the Swanknot shipswarm is merely a matter of establishing that they are the undead General Shuos Jedao. Once they believe they are confronted with a general with three centuries of seniority, the hapless soldiers have no choice but to obey.

By the time the Hexarchate’s rulers discover what Jedao has done, he and his little fleet are long gone.

Read more ➤

An East Wind Coming

Ninefox Gambit  (The Machineries of Empire, book 1)

By Yoon Ha Lee  

11 Jan, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

0 comments

2016’s Ninefox Gambit is the first volume in Yoon Ha Lee’s projected trilogy, The Machineries of Empire.

Success is often punished harshly. Consider the case of Captain Kel Cheris of Heron Company, 109 – 229th Battalion. She has excelled on the battlefield due to her skill and ingenuity. Those are exactly the qualities her superiors need if they are to retake the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the rebels who currently hold it.

Well, skill, ingenuity, and expendability.

Read more ➤