Logan Dreher | Tor.com
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Logan Dreher

Speaking Truth Into Being: Trans Identity in Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower

I have been thinking about this question. What is a name? Where do names come from? What if the sounds that make the word the Raven in Iradeni make some other meaning in another language, and that meaning is not what I am? What if sometimes I am called the Raven but sometimes something else? Is there one essential name for anything?

I’ve long loved Ann Leckie’s novels. I love them for their complexity and political intrigue and the sometimes subtle interrogation of what it means to be a person. All of Leckie’s books, particularly her Imperial Radch series, are laden with unanswered questions and ripe for re-reading and analysis.

The Raven Tower, Leckie’s 2019 foray into fantasy, is similarly masterful. Like all of her books, The Raven Tower is concerned with imperialism, power, and personal identity. A loose retelling of Hamlet, the novel contains familiar characters—a throne usurped by a jealous brother, a grief-mad heir bent on revenge—made unfamiliar by a new context. It’s a story about gods meddling in human politics and people manipulating gods in return.

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