“The Protector is dead.
For fifty years, the Protector ruled, reshaping her country in her image and driving her enemies to the corners of the map. For half a century the world turned around her as she built her armies, trained her Tensors, and grasped at the reins of fate itself. Now she is dead. Her followers will quiver, her enemies rejoice.
But in one tavern, deep in rebel territory, her greatest enemy drowns her sorrows. Lady Han raised a movement that sought the Protector’s head, yet now she can only mourn her loss. She remembers how it all began, when the Protector was young, not yet crowned, and a desperate dancing girl dared to fall in love with her.”
I think what I love most about the Tensorate series is how unique each book feels. They’re all telling a different part of the larger story, and Yang utilizes different storytelling technique. The Ascent to Godhood is written in second person POV as Lady Han recounts her life with the woman who became the Protector. Lady Han is a harsh, bitter, yet honest older woman who has lived a life full of misery and heartache and love and beauty. She snaps at her interviewer’s sillier questions and meditates on the heavier ones. She may not answer all their questions, but she always responds.
As a child she’s sold to a slave trader who in turn sells her to a house of prostitution. She eventually becomes a party favorite of the wealthy and powerful, which puts her in the line of fire of Hekate, daughter of the then-Protector. Soon the two women are inextricably bound together, for better and for worse. As Hekate’s power rises and her fist tightens, Lady Han tries to keep her place by her lover’s side. There is betrayal, of course. In more ways than one. And that constant sparring drives Lady Han to the Machinists where she eventually assassinates the Protector. Is betrayal a valid excuse for execution? I don’t think even Lady Han knows for certain. But here we are and things have happened and all we can do now is move forward. Oh, and pray there will be a fifth Tensorate book!
Thanks to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a review copy.