The Tensorate series is a 4 novella silkpunk fantasy series. Each novella follows the point of view of a different characters at a different snippet of time in this universe, and each offers the readers a different kind of story beyond just a POV change. I’m going to be honest, I definitely went into this series not expecting to love it. I’m usually not a short fiction fan, especially in the fantasy genre, but I had gotten the first novella as a free ebook download from Tor so I figured I’d give it a shot. And wow did I end up loving it.
First I want to talk about the world building in this series. Given that each installment was an increasingly shorter novella, the author did a great job building up the world and magic system of this universe. I felt like I had had a full novel’s worth of background and never felt like I was lacking on background information because of the length of each novella.
Another thing that I, surprisingly, really liked about this series was the diversity of the stories told in each novella. The first follows one of the characters from boyhood to adulthood and really does a great job of setting the scene of the whole series. It also introduces us to the major players of the series and was all in all a great book one from a framing stand point.
The second novella focuses on a different main character and is very much a study of grief. Which I think, as someone who admittedly has not had experience with the kind of grief depicted in this book, was done very well. It also allowed readers to have a nice dive into the mind of one of the secondary main characters and really give us a better understanding of her than we got in the first book.
The third installment was a total departure from the first two and was told in epistolary form, which I loved. It was also told from the point of view of a fairly unimportant character and revolved around a single incident and the investigation surrounding. Readers are able to see the main characters fro yet a different light as the narrator is mostly on the opposite side of the conflict from our previous favorites.
The last installment was probably my favorite. It as told as if someone had recorded the narrator telling the story to someone. It told the love story of how the leader of the rebellion movement had previously fallen with The Protector, the leader of the country the stories take place in, and how she ended up defecting and becoming the leader of the rebellion. I liked this one a lot because it offered us a new glimpse into the Tensorate world prior to the start of the first book. And I thought the character transformation of The Protector was really interesting to read.
Overall I would rate this series as a 5 star read. It’s my favorite Asian inspired fantasy I’ve read so far (though admittedly I have not read a ton of those) and it included queer representation which I appreciate seeing in newer fantasy. I don’t know if the series is complete, but I hope we get to see more dips into the Tensorate universe.