The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang
The Ascent to Godhood (2019) is the fourth and final novella in JY Yang’s TENSORATE series. It’s a finalist for the Locus Award in the Novella category — something that doesn’t surprise me at all. This series is a rollercoaster of deeply emotional stories with a rich and varied setting.
As the final installment, The Ascent to Godhood had to somehow tie together the threads of the other stories. I think it delivers on this spectacularly by giving the reader another new format for the series that focuses on a compellingly unlikely protagonist whose life has bisected the story thus far in surprising ways.
I loved how this novella, through a narrative that stays very close to one key character, not so much reveals the missing piece of the puzzle but makes it clear there was a puzzle at all. Several things were set up in the preceding novellas, but The Ascent to Godhood goes beyond simply delivering on those promises and gives the reader new and engaging facets of the world to mull over.
Each installment in this series focuses on something or someone specific, but by the end of it all there is a vast setting with an emotional core of deep characters. What made this installment hit so hard – and what I really loved across the series — was the way it portrayed the depth of the world through the experiences of its protagonist. The Ascent to Godhood didn’t pull any punches, and I’m sure this is a series I will revisit.
I love when an author’s work reveals and answers questions I didn’t even know I had, which is exactly what JY Yang’s The Ascent to Godhood did for me. Lady Han’s slow reveals of who she is, what her role and relationship to the Protectorate were, and how that changed into her current role within the resistance organized against the Protectorate, completely captivated me. As Skye said, it was a puzzle that I didn’t realize existed until I read this installment, and Yang’s superior storytelling abilities ensure that the TENSORATE series can be read in any order without confusion or complication.
I will gladly re-read this and its companion novellas many times in the future, and will cling to the hope that Yang returns to this world and continues to mine its rich depths.