Monday, 19 October 2015
The Grace of Kings
Once upon a time, I lived in China, embarking on a quest to master the language, though it turned out I was better at reading and writing it than at speaking and listening (for some reason, I'm better at communicating in English through the written word rather than the spoken one as well--something to do with people being distracting as they talk).
Anyhow, while I was there, I developed a love for the country, its culture, its art and literature--a love that has lasted to this day. And even though my Mandarin is rusty, I still try to practice it whenever I can, mainly through watching Chinese movies and pulling out my textbooks every now and again.
With that being said, I was thrilled to hear about Ken Liu's "The Grace of Kings", as here was a chance for two of my great loves: fantasy and Chinese culture, to be combined in one story. I love fantasy as a genre, though, like many others, find myself bored by medieval-Arthurial-knights--sort of setting. Don't get me wrong, I have a few versions of L'Morte d'Arthur and the Mabinogion sitting on my bookshelf and I pull them down for a reread regularly. But sometimes I want something a little more 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' and with The Dandelion Dynasty, I've finally found it.
The combination of silkpunk with more modern sensibilities combines to create a sweeping saga that is as seductive as it is visceral. The struggle of the characters, the moral ambiguity of their decisions, and the not so helpful nudge of the Gods all bring home the fact that there is no right and wrong that can encompass everyone. Each person has his or her own history which is brought to bear upon their decision-making and those who have legitimate reasons for seeking revenge will unleash untold havoc and destruction on those caught in the crossfire.
Do I recommend this book? Definitely. It may even end up in friends' Christmas stockings