Neon Yang: Tensorate Series (Paperback, 2021, 4 stars

Across four novellas, Neon Yang established themself as a fantasist in bold defiance of the …

An interesting book with four connected stories, with a helping of fluid gender identifies and romantic relationships.

3 stars

An interesting book with four connected stories set in a world where people of certain skills can affect the world by mentally playing with various elements (earth, water, metal, etc.), known as Slackcraft. It is also a world with fluid gender identities and romantic relationships that may or may not put off certain readers.

In this world lies the Protectorate, with a powerful woman, the Protector, who rules the Protectorate with an iron fist. The stories in the book deals with the rise, the rule and the end of the Protector, as told through the eyes of two of her children and the people who were involved with them.

  • The Black Tides of Heaven: the High Priest of a monastery meets with the Protector, who has to fulfil her end of a bargain for asking for his help. But it is done in an unexpected way, and he ends up with two of her children. One would grow up questioning authority, while the other would change the world in her own way with her visions. The majority of the story stays with the rebel, who gets involved in a rebellion who are fighting against the Protector. But in the end, a tragedy would force him to reunite with his sister and confront their mother in a way that would change all their lives.

  • The Red Threads of Fortune: this story focuses on the sister who, after the tragedy at the end of the first story, has left the monastery and now works as a dragon hunter. But the latest dragon hunt would lead to an unexpected new relationship and much danger, when the dragon turns out to be much larger than expected and is wrecking a lot of havoc. Dealing with the dragon would require her to learn new Slackcraft skills, deal with her emotions over the tragedy, and possibly alter the future.

  • The Descent of Monsters: a story set as a series of reports as told from the viewpoint of a Protectorate Investigator tasked with finding out what has caused a massacre at an isolated secret laboratory. The investigation would lead to the discovery of a secret plan involving a Protectorate experiment on children to develop a special skill that could surpass that of the sister from the previous stories.

  • The Ascent to Godhood: set as a story told by a leader of the rebellion against the Protector, it goes back in time to tell the story of how the Protector raised to her position of power, with the help of the leader who was then the Protector's personal maid. But events and a revealed subterfuge would cause her to defect to the rebellion. The story ends with the final fate of the Protector, tied to the special skill that was developed by a child in the previous story.