“Kel Cheris, a disgraced captain of the hexarchate, is given the opportunity to redeem herself by recapturing the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles from heretics. Cheris requests—and receives—a single devastating weapon to aid her in her task: the revived, near-immortal traitor, General Shuos Jedao. Feared throughout the stars and undefeated in battle, he is the perfect weapon. But Jedao is gripped by a madness that saw him massacre two armies in his first life—one of them his own. Preserved for his brilliance and tamed by his handlers, no one knows how long his good behaviour will last. Cheris must work with the mass murderer to destroy the heresy and save the hexarchate—before he destroys her…”
When I first picked up Ninefox Gambit, I had to take a rest every ten pages to digest everything I’d just read. The book opens with Kel Cheris in combat, slogging across the battlefield with her company, after the rest of the battalion has been turned inside-out. It gets really complicated when the fighting begins – the combat system of the Kel is based on formation geometry, so there was quite a lot of maths terminology very early on which I struggled with, but I battled through it to a sense of achievement once the fight was over.
Ninefox Gambit is incredibly rich in detail, but avoids getting bogged down in explanation. The political system and the geometric fighting seemed very complicated, and there was so much to take in that I was very much along for the ride in the hope that various things would become clearer later. It’s a real tapestry, where the more you look at it, the more detail you notice and appreciate, and it definitely bears rereading.
All the plot twists and machinations were brought to a personal level through Kel Cheris, who makes a tough decision in choosing the (undead) Shuos Jedao to work with to complete their mission. He takes up residence inside her mind, adding another level of tension as he could potentially take over her body at any time, and he is a mass murderer. An awareness of the wider universe is offered through Cheris as she recalls her childhood on her homeworld and her past relationships within and out of the Kel corps.
I will be giving this a reread (once my brain has recovered!) and before I pick up Raven Stratagem: Machineries of Empire #2.
A very good example of how complicated it all is: Hexarchate System.