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The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: The Grace of Kings

Author: Ken Liu

Publisher: Saga Press

Format: Print, ebook

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2015

Star Rating: 4/5

Ken Liu has won Hugo and Nebula Awards for his short fiction, but The Grace of Kings was his debut novel.

The Grace of Kings is the first book in the ‘Dandelion Dynasty’ epic fantasy series.

Liu has described this as ‘silkpunk’, which I think is a fabulous way to look at a world where airships and ancient Chinese warfare co-exist.

Emperor Mapidere is travelling his vast empire in style when a man operating a kite large enough to take his weight and that of several weapons launches an assassination attempt.

Although the emperor survives, and the assassin flies away to safety, the empire’s prestige has been badly mauled.

Young scholars Kuni and Rin see the attempt on the emperor’s life.

Kuni goes on to become a confidence trickster before falling in love with Jiu and marrying her.

Meanwhile, the heirs to a great martial tradition Phin and Mata emerge from their banishment ready to take on the empire that killed their brother and father.

Mata is eight foot tall and Phin has determination and guile, so the empire had better beware.

After the emperor’s death, the prime minister and regent manipulate the succession so that their choice of prince follows his father onto the throne.

But the new Emperor Erishi is a still a child, and he lacks any natural aptitude for the position.

The empire crumbles as individual countries within it rise up, either re-installing deposed heirs or their own or by the emergence of new blood.

There were many twists and turns. The story of The Grace of Kings covered a number of years. Fortunes rose only to fall back again.

Not everyone who stood up and rebelled proved to have any talent for the business of ruling or even challenging the empire successfully.

Power went to the heads of many who fought in the first wave, and the empire was not long in fighting back against the rebels.

Like any self-respecting epic fantasy, The Grace of Kings featured a stellar range of characters across many different lands.

I loved the sense of just how wide the empire was together with the vivid nature of the fictional universe and the diverse nature of each individual land.

The Grace of Kings was a superb achievement for a debut novel and the story was compelling.

Thank you for reading my review.

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John C Adams Reviews The Grace of Kings

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