- Also check our best rated Romance Book reviews
The Grace of Kings (Dandelion Dynasty) Hardcover – 7 Apr 2015
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"The Grace of Kings is an ambitious, astonishing, and sublime work, one that both exemplifies and diverges from what one might think of when it comes to epic fantasy. It should rank amongst the genre's best works."--Andrew Liptak "io9 "
"Liu's combination of elements from China, Polynesia and beyond, told in an epic style, is the kind of Silk Road Fantasy that I've always wanted to read, and love all the more now that I have."--Paul Weimer "SF Signal "
"Told in Liu's graceful, intelligent, and literate prose, the novel is a sumptuous Epic feast."--Rob Bedford "SFF World "
"The Grace of Kings is a fantasy, with petty meddling gods, odd mechanized inventions, and a sense that mystical powers lurk around the corner. It is nothing if not epic."--Justin Landon "Tor.com "
"Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings -- a magnificent fantasy epic. Liu is building a dynasty."--Amal El-Mohtar "NPR Books "
About the Author
Ken Liu is one of the most lauded authors in the field of American literature. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, Locus Sidewise, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards, he has also been nominated for the Sturgeon and Locus Awards. His short story, "The Paper Menagerie," is the first work of fiction to simultaneously win the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. He also translated the 2015 Hugo Award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem, written by Cixin Liu, which is the first novel to ever win the Hugo award in translation. The Grace of Kings, his debut novel, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series set in a universe he and his wife, artist Lisa Tang Liu, created together. It was a finalist for a Nebula Award and the recipient of the Locus Award for Best First Novel. He lives near Boston with his family.
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-3 of 40 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I normally avoid unfinished 'epic' sagas, as I have been burned by investing huge amounts of time the never ending Robert Jordan saga and several others that either never finish or become lousy. Happily this book, the first in a series, reaches a satisfactory conclusion and stands as wonderful tale in its own right.
Let’s start with saying that I undeniably enjoyed it. With a background drawn from Eastern history rather than European it gave it a different feel and a freshness that worked well.
The story itself is a group of lands, islands, think Japan and the warlords vying to rule them. Each land has traditionally been ruled by a king, but things have changed, one has risen who would call himself Emperor and despite his conquest of the lands there are those who would see him fall. In some ways the book is a study of what it is to rule, to desire to do something good and how what one may perceive as good another may see as tyrannical.
In that context there is a lot of good material as we see men forced into positions they did not expect, men climbing social ladders in a way that they would have seen impossible at the start; there are loves, compromises, friendships and broken hearts. It is a fast paced read that is very different to anything else that I have read recently in the fantasy genre, all of which stand it in good stead to be something really special, and yet…
A long time ago now author Janny Wurts produced a novel called Master of Whitestorm. It had all the trademarks of an epic fantasy, but it was all about the main character, so when there was a long journey the book cut it out. This made it fast paced but it felt somehow lighter, and this is the case with Grace of Kings.
It feels light, as though a lot of the stuffing has been pulled from it. We see years fly by throughout the novel, and it does not feel like it. All the hard work put into world building and character building seems to be shortchanged by the fact it feels as though it happens so fast.
Liu jumps from event to event, telling some epic stories, but there is much of the detail missing of what happens in between, and for me this is where the novel is let down. It feels odd to say this about a book of 500+ pages, but there should have been a lot more of it. I want to feel the land suffer as the lord’s war over it, rather than skim the surface of a wondrously thought out lake and not see what lurks in the depths.
There is so much to recommend this book, but in the end it felt as though it were a casual easy read, something that will be enjoyable from the moment you pick up the book until you turn the last page, before being forgotten like a dandelion on a breeze, and that is what will stop it becoming a great of a genre.
(It might however trigger more work based on Eastern history, and that would be more than welcome.)
The Grace of Kings really is a work of epic proportions. A story of rebellion and war, victory and defeat, friend and foe and ultimately an incredibly poignant and sometimes sad look at friendships. The story is dripping with issues of trust, deceit and betrayal whilst also telling some incredibly moving stories of love and loyalty.
I’ve only read one of Liu’s short stories before The Grace of Kings and on the strength of that was keen to read this and, yes, it is a book that takes time to read but it's also a book that is definitely worth the time.
The main thrust of the story revolves around an uprising of the common people, driven to despair by despot rulers and seeking fairer rule. At least on the face of it that’s what I would say this is about. Of course, war very often has little to do with the common people and that is certainly the case here – even though very many of them will lose their lives fighting most of them could just as easily be on one side as the other, and, as the book itself acknowledges, perhaps the people with the differences should get together and fight it out between themselves! Anyway, getting away from the main point.
The story revolves around two rebel leaders, Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu. Kuni and Mata are completely different characters in virtually every respect and yet, in spite of their differences, they become firm friends and indeed after a number of serious encounters where they succeed against the odds they declare themselves brothers. If only everything was that simple.
There are a lot more characters in the story and I’m not going to elaborate on them all but give a snapshot of the ones I found most interesting. We have a bunch of interfering Gods who seem to be playing their own games and frequently appear in disguise amongst the mortals to either dispense words of wisdom or cause confusion. We have a number of women who play important roles in Kuni’s life. His first wife Jia. You could say that Jia sets Kuni off on his path to rebellion by giving him a strange herbal concoction that gives him a certain zest for life, they have a strong bond although it is going to be severely tested. We have the Lady Risana who seems to be something of an illusionist – a very intriguing woman and I was fascinated by her background. Soto, who spends time as Jia’s housekeeper and has her own secret past and, my absolute favourite, Gin Mazoti. I’m not going to give anything away about Gin other than to say I loved this particular episode of the story and was absolutely captivated by her tale and loved what Liu managed to achieve with her. A very compelling person to read about and a serious contender to steal the show! Of course Gin’s particular element of the tale comes into force at a very interesting time when inventions and battles are becoming more and more creative. The two main characters actually have a quite sad story arc and definitely bring to mind the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’.
I really admire the strength of writing. There is such a lot going on here. Many and varied characters, political maneuvering, sly intrigue, a wealth of background and history and multiple battle scenes. Now, I can’t deny it, this isn’t a quick read but I think to race through this would be such a waste as there is such a lot to take on and consider.
The fantasy here is subtle. Nobody is wielding firework type magic and dragons are not swooping out of the sky causing mayhem. We have, of course, the meddling deities. On top of this we have a wealth of wonderful creations and we have some huge and spectacular creatures.
This is a wonderfully complex tale that is practically brimming over with plot and counter plot. Very intelligent, very thought provoking, very emotional. I could say so very much more but I’m afraid of giving things away so I’m going to leave it there.
If you’re interested in a book that almost reads like a period of Chinese history but with inventions, gods and other slightly fantastical things thrown in then this could be just what you’re looking for. I will definitely look forward to the next instalment.
I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?