“Fallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.
On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.” (via Goodreads)
Despite the fact that the first two books in the Tensorate series released the same day, I made the in hindsight very poor choice to wait until recently to read the second. They beg to be read back to back, not only because they’re great novellas but because of how they explore the lives of the twins Akeha and Mokoya. Both are born into privilege and abandon it in search of something more meaningful. And both fall madly in love despite their reluctance, and lose people they care deeply for. Life pushes them together and pulls them apart, but they’ll always be each other’s complement. The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune details their often separate and conflicting journeys to defend their homeland from fascism and build lives along the way.
Mokoya hasn’t had an easy life. Her powers made her feel in some ways like a prisoner. She couldn’t control her prophecies, nor could she alter what she saw. Her visions always came true no matter how much she tried to change them. But after the terrible death of her young daughter, she’s adrift. Her prophecies have ceased, but so has her life. She’s alive, but takes no joy in anything. She retreats into her memories, using them like a drug. They numb her pain but make it impossible to move forward. The Red Threads of Fortune is fantasy, yes, but it’s also a story about loss and letting go.
Just as before, queerness is the default setting. Rider, a new character in the series, is explicitly genderqueer, identifying as “they” even though others intentionally misgender them as “she.” The only time anyone questions the choice of pronouns is when the antagonist misgenders them, and then then confusion rests solely in the reasons for the error, not in Rider’s identity.
Need a good way to end of Pride Month? You can’t go wrong with the Tensorate series.
Mokoya’s fingers tightened around Phoenix’s reins. If she listened to common sense, it would tell her to return to camp immediately. It would tell her that lingering alone in a naga’s territory with a dead communications device was tempting the fortunes. It would tell her that there were worse things in this forsaken world than having to fend off Adi’s wrath, as if she didn’t already know.
She whistled and sent the raptors farther east to comb through more of the valley.
As Phoenix slouched after the sprightly creatures, her clawed feet sinking deep into the sand, the weight of the dead transmitter pulled on Mokoya’s left wrist, reminding her what a fool she was. Mokoya ignored it and reasoned with herself, running guilt-assuaging lines of thought through her head. This assignment was an abnormal one, and abnormal circumstances called for abnormal tactics. She was making the right move, plowing through unturned ground as fast as she could.
The sooner she found the naga’s gravesent nest, the sooner they could get out of this blighted desert with its parched winds that could peel skin and blind the unwary. And that was the sooner Mokoya could get away from Bataanar and its web of things she did not want to get tangled up in.
Thanks to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.