The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang is one of the two standalone introductions to their Tensorate series. Both it and The Red Threads of fortune can be read independent of each other, but run parallel to each other. It's a fascinating construction for the start of a series, but I can't speak to how well it works yet, because so far I've only read one of the two books. Sorry guys!
What I can speak to, though, is Yang's storytelling mastery. The Black Tides of Heaven is a tightly woven book with compelling characters and beautifully strange worldbuilding. Akeha is a strong-yet-vulnerable character of the type I adore, and they way he relates to his twin, Mokoya, her husband, and later his own lover, are all strong and incredibly real-feeling. The fact that I cared so deeply about all of these characters and their relationships in a book that I could finish in a day is just a testament to how well Yang knows how to draw you in and pull on your heartstrings.
I love the conceit of magic as threads and tension, and adore the fact that each person in this civilization gets to choose their gender, and that some know it at an early age, and some have a hard time choosing even when they're approaching adulthood. It's so real, so wonderful, so necessary, to see a world where everyone has to think about their gender at least enough to choose it, and people don't have to live in bodies that make them appear to be a gender that they don't feel, instead of some blindly accepting the gender that they were both with, and some constantly feeling weird and wrong for questioning what they were born with. It's a beautiful background detail that I absolutely appreciate as someone who's just beginning to think that they might belong somewhere on the nonbinary scale. It's a balm to see a world where thinking about those questions is the norm, rather than abnormal.
That is to say that I loved this book, and found in its stormy pages a little bit of peace, and a whole lot of wonder. I would definitely recommend this book.
5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.