I can’t point to anything specific that would explain why Raven Stratagem, and the book before it in the Machinieries of Empire series, Ninefox Gambit, grates on me. But they do, enough that the only reason I finished the first and picked up the second at all, was because I wanted to have read, and be able to have an opinion on, all of the Hugo finalists this year.
It isn’t the writing or the world-building. Both are good, and the world-building is actually fascinating. The world of the Hexarchate is filled with fascinating people, communities and concepts. The characters are interesting and diverse, and there are several that I am becoming invested in.
It may be the “calendric orthodoxy/heresy” that gets on my nerves. Although this is primarily a science fiction space opera, there is an element of fantasy/magic in the orthodoxy that allows “exotics”, like faster-than-light travel, to exist and be used. The concept does annoy me.
Otherwise, Lee does a terrific job with the hard science fiction tropes he uses.
Lee, Yoon Ha. Raven Stratagem. Oxford, England: Solaris Books, 2017. Kindle edition. Amazon.