It’s ridiculous how much story is contained in this short novella. It’s like Hermione’s enchanted purse, it looks small but contains vast worlds and time. In 240 pages, J.Y. Yang takes Akeha and Mokoya from newborns to adults with lovers and families, and builds an empire in turmoil around them. The Black Tides of Heaven is the first four books of A Song of Ice and Fire in a novella.
Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as infants. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While Mokoya received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, they saw the sickness at the heart of their mother’s Protectorate.
Mokoya and Akeha are bound together as twins, but also struggle for individuality and for identity beyond being their mother’s children/pawns. As their life paths diverge, they struggle to maintain the connection between them. Truthfully, I do not have the words to express the beauty of this novella. The beauty and compactness of the language is extraordinary. The story is rich. The characters. particularly Akeha and Mokoya, exist out in the world in their own right.
“The saying goes, ‘The black tides of heaven direct the courses of human lives.’ To which a wise teacher said, ‘But as with all waters, one can swim against the tide.”
Akeha chooses to swim against the tide. He was born to be a pawn, his life is shaped by political machinations and his sister’s unalterable visions of the future. It would be easy to allow his life to be shaped. Akeha always chooses the harder path and in doing so has become one of my favorite characters.