Book Reviews Fantasy Novellas Fantasy Reviews

Review: The Red Threads of Fortune (Reading the Tensorate Series)

Whereas the first installment gave us the origins of Akeha and Mokoya, spanning 30+ years, The Red Threads of Fortune focuses on a matter of days as they attempt to save a city from an impossible foe. The same enchantment and mystery is present throughout as Yang shows their devotion to this magical land and its many layered characters. I remain in awe of this brilliantly realized world.

(This is Part 2 of Reading the Tensorate Series, a week-long celebration of The Descent of Monsters’ release and all things silkpunk)


J.Y. Yang, 2017


Years after the first book, Mokoya has been running from the events of that fateful day, trying, and failing, to move on. The rebellion continues on the outskirts of her mother’s empire. Mokoya and those she loves find themselves chasing a new foe, a naga that is unlike any other. The journey leads her to a deeper understanding of herself and her place in the world.



While the first book told the beginnings of both Akeha and Mokoya, Akeha was the main focus of the later half. In The Red Threads of Fortune, we follow a broken Mokoya who is still reeling from the tragedy that took away her life’s greatest joy. She’s left her husband in search of comfort and is still running years later. Whereas before she felt a mix of calm and fear at her prophecies, she’s become hardened against the world. That grit allows us to really get to know her, to see the raw emotion that’s woven into everything she does. She wants to understand the world, to protect those she loves, and her fierceness really comes across. Both her and Akeha have proven themselves to be warriors of the world, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to progress through the series.


Yang’s presentation of magic is breathtaking and masterfully written. The Slack gives this world its beauty, creating a mysterious layer over a familiar yet fantastical land. In The Red Threads of Fortune, we learn more about the technical aspects of the Slack and its deeper possibilities. It’s not just a magical force, but a plane layered on top of the world, allowing Tensors to draw from it, to manipulate that layer to penetrate the regular world. Mokoya discovers that it can be so much more. You can travel great distances by folding the Slack from point to point, an aspect I’ve seen in other stories and novels I’ve reviewed. Yang expanded this into a complex, well-executed plot device.


I loved the introduction of Rider and their ability to help Mokoya cope with the death of her daughter. They have a dark past, filled with people who took advantage of them. Be that as it may, they are thoughtful and tender to Mokoya as she struggles. They hold the answers to the Slack, expanding Mokoya’s understanding of her own abilities and giving her even more power than she already possessed. Rider’s tenderness toward the book’s creatures is also admirable, showing that beasts who strike fear into the many may not be the monsters they’re painted to be.


The creatures featured in both novellas are clearly a labor of love for Yang. The naga are front and center in this installment, acting as both the primary villain and an important teaching moment on the many layers an animal can have. A brief mention of the borders of the world reveals that this time and place may have skipped the extinction of dinosaur-era beasts, with giant sloths and crocodiles who roam the distant lands. This just adds to the mystery and depth of this magical world. In general, I love when authors invent creatures within their worlds, and Yang does a great job of bringing them front and center.


Silkpunk, Magic, Magical Realism, Creatures, Ruling Class, Nobility, Class Struggles, Eastern Culture, Revolutions


Barnes & Noble


Yang, J.Y. The Red Threads of Fortune., 2017.

Interested in more books like The Red Threads of Fortune? Check out our book reviews here.

Photo by Mari Helin on Unsplash

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