The Red Threads of Fortune is the second novella in J.Y. Yang’s Tensorate silkpunk fantasy series about a set of twins, Akeha and Mokoya, who are born to the Protector of a kingdom (their mother), who gives them away to a monastery to settle a bargain. Later, their mother takes back on of the twins, Mokoya, who had developed prophetic powers. The series celebrates gender diversity and in its world characters choose the gender they associate with at a certain age, so children are often referred to using the gender-neutral pronoun “they.”
This is all introduced in the first novella, The Black Tides of Heaven, which focuses on Akeha. The events in The Red Threads of Fortune picks up some months (I think) after the end of The Black Tides of Heaven and focuses on Mokoya.
Tensorate (book 2)
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. (Goodreads)
While reading this, it took a while to remember the previous story, which contained all the world building and is needed to understand what motivates the protagonist in this installment. I got scared because I couldn’t recall much and not too long had passed since I’d read The Black Tides of Heaven, which I completed in January. I should have been remembered something, but I had to reread my review of that book to refresh my mind. It made me worried about my memory and wonder if I’m consuming too much material in too little time. What’s the point of reading all this if I can’t remember it later?
So I guess that affected my enjoyment of this book. I found it hard to connect with the character or care about what she does or what happens to her. Even after I got a handle on the story and started to remember what had happened in the previous installment, I still didn’t care. I also think part of the reason why I felt this way is because Mokoya is a bit unlikeable in this installment since she’s still grieving the loss of her daughter but is doing so by working out her anger and because the plot progressed too quickly. More the latter than the former.
The plot progressed quickly in The Black Tides of Heaven as well, but I didn’t mind it there because the story is spread over several years and we observe the protagonist grow and develop over that time. Even the romance there didn’t seem hurried to me because we see the characters get to know each other over time before the romance takes off.
However, such wasn’t the case with The Red Threads of Fortune. It takes place over a handful of days if so much, and the romance quickly blossoms after the characters spend just one night together or sleep together once (it’s tricky understanding the day/night cycle). It seemed a very short time for such romance and deep trust to develop between the characters, so I had a hard time believing that.
I didn’t mind the action parts and thought the naga were interesting creatures, however I wish an illustration of them was provided because I kept imagining them as dragons but it seems that dragons are a separate entity in that world since Mokoya observed a dragon sculpture or decorated furniture (I forgot which) at someone’s house and said it was like a dragon, so if the naga was a dragon she would have said so. Still, as I read I kept imagining them as dragons because not much description is given other than that they can grow to immense sizes.
Unfortunately, the end fell flat for me. I get the impression that it was suppose to be emotional since Mokoya wrote good-bye letters to all who she cares for before sacrificing herself to defeat the naga, but it didn’t work for me. If the letter we got to read was instead to Thennjay, then maybe I would have felt something because there’s much tension between them and I’m familiar with him from the previous book and understand how much he means to her. But focusing on the new romantic interest didn’t work for me because there wasn’t much development there to go on. It all progressed too fast for me to care.
Overall: ★★☆☆☆ 1/2
It’s a decent read, but it progressed too fast for me to care about it.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the series.