Ninefox Gambit

It’s been a minute since I’ve read some space battle sci-fi. I was clearly hankering for it because I blew through this novel in a day or two. But be warned, this is a sci-fi book for theoretical math nerds. Only they will be able to truly enjoy this one.

Either wayyyy into the future, or in another universe, Kel Cheris is smarter than the average Kel. In a world run by hierarchy and math, her ability to think and compute on the fly is both an asset and a detriment. She is chosen by the powers that be to head up a task force to retake an important space station hijacked by heretics. But the only way Cheris can see how to take back the base is by reviving famed General Shuos Jedao, who has never lost a battle. Two twists, Jedao went mad four hundred years ago and killed his entire army, and he is nothing more than a spirit who will live inside Cheris’ head. Now, she has to conquer an impregnable fortress and determine if the voice in her head is actually mad, or just pretending to be.

The relationship between Cheris and Jedao is very interesting. Especially the “is he” or “is he not” aspect of his insanity. Very good interactions between the two of them and relating to figuring out the best plan of attack. Fun strategy and mind games.

The part that tripped me up is the incredibly theoretical version of math this society uses. The heretics are causing something called “calendrical rot.” What is the calendar? How are they causing it to rot? Why does the hexarch use 6 as their base number? These are answers I don’t have, and if the author has them, he isn’t explaining them in a way that could help a simpleton like me. But, the base results of these math-like problems are understandable, soldiers get killed, spaceships blown up etc. etc. It’s just hard to understand why or how.

So an enjoyable read, the first of a trilogy. But I’m not sure if I’m going to finish the series. The nature of the weapons and society are hard to grasp. A smarter person than me might find more enjoyment.

2.5 out of 4 stars.

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