The Raven Tower - Ann Leckie

Anyone who's read my reviews will know how much I love Ann Leckie's science fiction books, while I'd also really enjoyed the short stories she's written set in the same universe that The Raven Tower inhabits. This is a universe where gods great and small can speak things into reality, with the caveat that if they make something real that is too much for the limits of their power, they risk destruction.

 

One such god is the eponymous Raven, who has entered into a long-standing arrangement with humanity - they will provide someone to offer themselves as a human sacrifice when the bird which the god inhabits dies. This is a hereditary post and one of our protagonists, Eolo, is the aide of the heir to that position - he and his lord have returned to the city on the death of the Raven's host, only to find that the human component of this arrangement has disappeared. This is a great and shameful scandal, to say the least, and Eolo ends up trying to find out what has actually happened.

 

This storyline is set against its counterpart, another narrative about how the Raven came to be the pre-eminent god of that particular city in the first place and the roles of other gods along the way. Towards the end of The Raven Tower, there's some crossover between the two storylines as they crash together and the truth comes out. This is, after all, a standalone book rather than the set-up for a trilogy or series like many fantasy books. 

 

All in all, I liked The Raven Tower as a book and it kept me engaged, but there was just something not quite gripping enough about the choice of Eolo as a main character. Partly, I think, because the driver for Eolo's choices is often loyalty and friendship towards a character who comes across as a bit whiny and immature at times - at one point, dismissing Eolo's discoveries just because they're inconsistent with his understanding of how the world works. Not that this will stop me happily reading anything else that gets written in this universe, so I wait to see what comes next from Ms Leckie's desk...