A fast paced and clever space-opera that is like the novelization of the best parts of a StarCraft game. The setting is the Korean version of WarHammer 40K, where a militarized, totalitarian, and cruel/wasteful society is busily engaged in total war against external threats and internal rebellions. The main character is Cheris, a loyal infantry commander who due to her quick thinking and mathematical genius is promoted to lead an impossible battle against rebels who have taken over an impregnable star fortress. She is joined in this effort by Sedao, the technologically preserved ghost of the Empire's greatest commander. Sedao was only retired and "ghosted" after he went murderously insane and lead an entire Imperial army into destruction. Since that incident, Sedao is only let out of the vaults in order to assist with rare and difficult situations, where the danger of his advice is less than the danger of the enemy. The rest of the book follows the partnership between the two, and focuses on tactics, deception, and political maneuvering as they try to take back the rebel fortress. Sedao acts as a sort of strategic Sherlock Holmes, noticing the features and tactics that most people would miss, while Cheris usually acts as his Watson.
The book has a ton of energy and ideas, and lards on the setting and strangeness. The author invents planets, regions, and space empires, cultures and robots, spaceships that are all oddly named after moths, four dozen exotic forms of weaponry and equipment, seven interesting Imperial castes, various sigils and languages, etc. etc. A particular focus is on what the call "Calendrical effects"; these are a bit like the Dominions of Dominions 3, i.e. zones of reality where the basic rules of the universe are altered slightly due to the beliefs of the inhabitants. In a slower paced or less busy book many of these elements would not work, but as a rapid-fire amalgamation of new ideas they are great. It is like the Paradox Games version of book writing, where you just keep piling on new features and ideas until it somehow becomes fun. Another positive to the book is that while the Imperial society portrayed in the book is quite evil, the author also realizes that it is evil, which is really all that I want from my novelists.