The Raven Tower
  • icon
  • Anna's Archive icon
  • LibGen icon
  • Goodreads icon
  • Github icon
ibsn13: 9780316388696

“The Raven Tower” is one of the worst books I have ever read. I’ve only covered the tip of the iceberg in this review because reading through this book has left me completely drained of energy. Please don’t read this book, it is beyond trash. If you really want to, I can’t stop you but I really wish I could.

I have an important question for y’all.

Is this how people speak?

“He must have had help, yes. Stalker surely helped him, it was worth her while to do it. Do you think it would be less worth the Raven’s, to offer such opportunity to my father? Even with the god so distant, between Instruments, it’s a small thing to provide a sharp edge, a weapon in reach, anything. And do you imagine that, offered that help, my father would have failed to take it? He was loyal to the Raven. He was the Lease, and he knew his duty.”


On one hand, this is great art because reading through dialogue like this makes me question my own existence. Is it really possible that a human being wrote this paragraph of dialogue and was like: “Job’s done… My God, I’m good!”?

On the other hand, reading dialogue like this is immersion breaking and I don’t like it.

It gets worse.

What is the purpose of having characters speaking in awfully written broken English?

“A funeral. The old Lease is not have a funeral. There is a new Lease—I know it is so. I am in Vastai for days and days and the Lease is not see us. Now the Lease is see us—once—and this man who is the Lease is not the Lease before.”

I’m not an expert linguist so maybe it’s possible for someone to learn language X then try to learn language Y and the result of that is this. Maybe?

But why?

I just read through Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky which is a book featuring many alien beings who speak in a variety of weird ways all serving to give them a unique identity and immerse you into the world.

Like yes, the crab people speaking through a translator device of questionable quality would be different and the author can use that difference as a tool to craft a more compelling narrative.

And comparing that to this is jarring. Nobody is benefiting from the dialogue being written this way, just let these characters speak normally or make them speak in an interesting way that reflects a difference in their beliefs, unique to them. Something, anything! Not like this.

Let’s move on.

Not only is the way the dialogue is written bad but what characters choose to say to each other is also awful.

There are many conversations in this book where each character seems to know everything that every other character knows. It sounds like each of them is reading from a terrible script handed down to them by a single person.

Obviously, all books are written this way. But an author’s job is to convince the reader that these characters actually exist, each having their own goals, behaviors, etc. and aren’t just mindless puppets controlled entirely by the author.

You could argue that this awful writing is explained by the premise of the book. The fact that the story is narrated by a god in a universe where a god’s words have power and in saying something it becomes true.

However, even if that’s the case, I dislike when books have premises that explain away the author’s inability to write well (refer to I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid for another example of this)

Is everything in this book terrible? No. But it’s hard for me to focus on the OK parts of the book because the bad parts are so bad.

The story is split into two POVs. One of a god and one of a person. The characterization of Eolo, the person, is really bad and his chapters are weak (and filled with awful dialogue). The god’s POV is better because it has much less dialogue and it’s weird in a way that has potential.

It feels like Ann Leckie wrote a decent story from a unique perspective (the god) and was told that it wouldn’t sell because it would be hard for readers to relate to a god who is literally just a big rock.

So, she had to go back in and interlace another story with human characters that people could relate to more easily.

And so, we get a novel that’s very uneven with half the chapters being equal parts boring and unbelievable and the other half being not fully realized.

I’m going to add Ann Leckie to my growing list of hack authors who had a single good idea in them.

But that one good idea that made them successful was a fluke. Despite continuously going back to that well, they don’t understand what actually made their first successful work resonate with people and so are unable to recreate the success they achieved in the past.

It’s sad to see these authors who at one time were put on a pedestal and told: “Hey, you’re special, keep it up!”. Only for everyone to eventually realize that it was all lies. Actually they weren’t special, they were lucky.

Everyone’s luck runs out at some point, it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when. And some authors are luckier than others.

Life’s short, I can’t afford to waste my time reading a book like this again. Ann Leckie you’ve been banned, my eyes shall never grace a page of text you’ve written ever again. I wish you all the best.

Unlucky authors list: Neil Gaiman, Ann Leckie, Jeff VanderMeer