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The Black Tides of Heaven (The Tensorate Series) Paperback – September 26, 2017
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“Joyously wild stuff. Highly recommended.” ―The New York Times
“Full of love and loss, confrontation and discovery. Each moment is a glistening pearl, all strung together in a wonder of world-creation.” ― Ken Liu, Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award winner and author of The Grace of Kings and The Paper Menagerie
“I love JY Yang’s effortlessly fascinating world-building.” ―Kate Elliott, author of Black Wolves and Court of Fives
“A fascinating world of battles, politics, magic and romance.” ―Zen Cho, author of Sorcerer to the Crown
“Filled with memorable characters and set in a wonderfully imaginative and original universe.” ―Aliette de Bodard, Nebula Award-winning author of The House of Shattered Wings
“Like a Miyazaki movie decided to jump off the screen and sear itself into prose, and in doing so became something entirely new.” ―Indrapramit Das, author of The Devourers
“Relentlessly captivating, heartbreaking, and powerful.” ―Fran Wilde, award-winning, Nebula & Hugo-nominated author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and Horizon
“Yang's prose carries the reader along... A really good book.” ―Locus
“Yang deftly creates a world infused with magic, story, and hierarchy.” ―Joel Cunningham, B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog
“Yang captures an epic sweep in compact, precise prose.” ―Publishers Weekly starred review
About the Author
JY Yang is a lapsed journalist, a former practicing scientist, and a master of hermitry. A queer, non-binary, postcolonial intersectional feminist, their work often examines issues of race, class, and gender. They have short fiction published or forthcoming in places including Uncanny, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and Tor.com. They are the author of the Tensorate Series, which begins with the twin novellas The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune. They live in Singapore, edit fiction at Epigram Books, and have a MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia.
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I had quite high expectations going into this book. I love novella’s, the synopsis sounded amazing, and I’d never read twin novella’s before so I was incredibly curious about that. But while I ended up loving some of the aspects of the book, I ended up being disappointed by others.
One of the aspects of the book that I loved a lot were the characters, and most especially the relationships between the characters. The novella’s focus on a pair of twins, and I was very scared that I wasn’t going to be able to keep them apart while reading because I’m notoriously bad at keeping characters apart in general, but that didn’t happen. (Okay, I admit, I was confused during the first 10% of the book but that’s so much better than I expected!) Both of the characters were very distinct, and seeing their relationship transform was fascinating, but also a bit heartbreaking at the same time.
I loved being able to follow Akeha’s life and seeing him make his own decisions and be independent. The story has quite a few time-jumps and I would’ve loved to see what happened to him during that time, because we really only get to see small glimpses of his life, but it was also kind of refreshing because I’ve never read something like this before. And it was also very interesting to be able to see the changes in him after every time-jump.
I have some very mixed feelings about the world building. On the one hand, the descriptions of the world were absolutely amazing. Every time the author showed us a certain landscape or city, it was described in that kind of way that causes you to be able to picture everything very clearly. This made for a story that felt very real, and very immersive.
On the other hand, however, I was very confused by everything else in relation to the world building; the magic system, the political system and the culture. Because the book is so short you’re not really introduced to these things, but you’re kind of thrown into it without knowing what’s going on. There were certain terms for political positions (I think) stated without actually saying what this meant, nothing was explained in regards to the magic system, there were certain political conflicts which you got no information about other than the fact that they were there, and all this just left me feeling very confused. Which, in turn, made it very hard to understand and connect with the whole story.
Something that I did love a lot about this story was the way that it approached gender. When children are born, their pronouns are ‘they/them’ until they decide otherwise, or don’t. The entire ‘system’ (for lack of a better word) for this was very well thought out and incredibly interesting, and I really appreciated it.
While I didn’t end up liking this novella as much as I thought I would, I’m still very excited to jump into the other novella, The Red Threads of Fortune. I think the author is incredibly talented and the story has a lot of potential. And who knows, maybe I just needed some time to get used to the world and I’ll end up not having a problem with it at all in the second book. I have high hopes.
Not to spoil anything, but this book (novella, technically) has awesome mythology AND some very interesting queer friendly parts.
For example! The main character are twins who, like everyone in this society, have no confirmed gender until they grow up and declare themselves to be male or female (there is also the implication that some people grow up and don’t declare either and that uncommon but no stigma) SO! for the first half of the novel both character refer to themselves and each other with third person pronouns! Honestly, I have never seen something like that in a fantasy novel and it worked awesomely and it was cool!
Also, there are some gay folks who are not murdered or die tragically just because they are queer. I loved it.
Part of a two-book preview by Jy Yang, who is also non binary. It was awesome and only like 200 pages so you can definitely knock it out in an evening!
disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher