The Tensorate Series | Book Review

 Book: The Tenseorate Series (Bind-up books 1 to 4) by Neon Yang
Release Date: September 21st 2021
Tags: Asian Inspired Fantasy | Magic | Novella’s | Novella Bind-up | LGTQ+ | Queer | Gender Identity


The Tensorate Series, which has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus, and Lambda Literary Awards, is an incomparable treasure of modern epic fantasy. Across four novellas, Neon Yang established themself as a fantasist in bold defiance of the limitations of their genre. Available now in a single volume, these four novellas trace the generational decline of an empire and unfurl a world that is rich and strange beyond anything you’ve dreamed.

In the Tensorate Series you will find: rebellious nonbinary scions of empire, sky-spanning nagas with experimental souls, revolutionary engineers bent on bringing power to the people, pugilist monks, packs of loyal raptors, and much, much more.

The Tensorate Series omnibus contains The Black Tides of HeavenThe Red Threads of FortuneThe Descent of Monsters, and To Ascend to Godhood

I read The Black Tides of Heaven years ago and at the time was a bit hesitant about reading on. I didn’t quite love that first novella. I think it was good that I waited because when I reread it in this bind-up I actually loved it.

The setting of these books is ancient Asian inspired fantasy where tensors are those that control the slackcraft in them and around them which gives them powers. They are ruled by the protector. There is an unique look at gender identity where children are not assigned a gender at birth but choose their own later on in life. Amidst this a rebellion is brewing. Those that are not tensors would like progressions while the state holds that back. When the protector births twins it changes things.

In The Black Tides of Heaven we meet the twins Akeha and Mokoya as they grow up. Looking so much alike but absolutely different. This focuses on Akeha as the story progresses who feels not quite as special as their sibling who gets visions but ultimately becomes a key person in the rebellion against their mother. I was much more invested in Akeha’s character in this reread. The emotional strings amidst all these politics. Growing up to be your own person.

The Red Threads of Heaven focuses on Mokoya a few years after the events of The Black Tides of Heaven. Mokoya has been hiding away, grieving the loss of her child and avoiding her husband. When we comes across a rider on a naga called Rider, it starts a chain event that leads to Mokoya pulling up the gates. As much as I feel for the loss that Mokoya experienced as a mom myself, it does not negate her absolute stupidity towards her husband and it took away a lot of enjoyment out of the story for me.

The Descent of Monsters moves somewhat away from our twins as we follow an investigation into a labratory by the state by letters and diary entries of an state investigator that are directed at their partner. The connection towards the above is that it has to do with Rider finding their twin. It was interesting to see how hard everyone was at work to cover things up but I didn’t quite connect with this one as much.

Last is The Ascent to Godhood that takes a slight different route by sharing the story of the Protectorate’s ex-lover become enemy, Lady Han. It was an interesting glimpse into the life of The Protectorate. And the link towards the third story was quite a good touch.

10 thoughts on “The Tensorate Series | Book Review

  1. Thanks for the review! I read each of these novellas, but separately so that it wasn’t always as obvious to me where the connections between the stories were (depending on how much time passed between reading them). I had thought that this omnibus only included the first 3 of the 4 stories; I’m glad to hear that it actually includes all 4 of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes all 4. I was planning on picking up book 2 until I heard of this bind-up last year. I knew that I had to wait to have that in my hands to read on.


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