THE GRACE OF KINGS by Ken LiuThe Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Series: The Dandelion Dynasty #1
Published by Saga Press on April 7th 2015
Pages: 640
Length: 43 hours, 12 minutes
Genres: Action & Adventure, Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, General
eARC provided by Copy provided by publisher via Edelweiss, Saga Press

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Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice. Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.

Reading time 4 mins

I just finished this epic fantasy story and I have no idea how to review it and actually do this book justice. There is no way I can sum up The Grace of Kings in a few paragraphs or it’s importance as epic fantasy. This book is a must read for fans of epic fantasy, as it is an introduction to The Dandelion Dynasty, a dynasty epic fans need to know. Although it is a debut novel, it packs in more than most trilogies and this book is only the beginning.

This story takes place in China. This is the story Kuni, a prison guard turned bandit, and Mata, a disinherited heir of a duke. Their story follows the rise and fall of the empire of the Dara islands, seven, each one distinct and important. Emperor Mapidéré was the first to unite the island kingdoms of Dara under the rule of Xana (one of the islands of Dara). Twenty plus years into this riegn and the Gods are angry, the people are suffering and greed is everywhere. Kuni is their destined leader, as told in a prophecy found in the belly of a fish, but his struggle to power will not be an easy one. We follow Kuni and his good friend Mata in the time of Xena rule. Kuni starts off a prodigal son who can’t seem to do the right thing. His love of a good life makes him a less then perfect choice for kingship. His friend Mata is a giant of a man who is also double-pupiled, a rare condition that many believe to be mythical.

Kuni and Mata both want to live under more just rules, where people are treated well. These two are fast leaders in a revolution that shakes the Dara lands to their core. Power changes hands many times in this story and still the people suffer. Kuni and Mata both rise to power through battles that make and break the empire. The politics involved in the Danu lands are carefully recorded. We get to see each leader come to power and then be consumed by it. We get the back story and intimate conversations that make this leader respond.

The style of writing is almost narrative. Each character has its own story to tell, and we learn about their motivation for power and honor. I really empathized with the struggles of these men and woman. Their battles are played out in a land where bandits can rise to power and women can be military leaders. The Grace of Kings is about the delicate balance required in any person to rule and empire. The author is not afraid to ask the big questions of these rulers and lays out their actions for interpretation. Each island has it’s own Gods and they are bound not to interfere, but they inadvertently do anyways. Their Gods are whimsical and argue like children. Their frustration at having battles carried out in their names is humorous. We see the faults and determination of the Gods in this tale.

This novel can easily be the next big epic fantasy. The author is brilliant in the telling of the story, weaving mythology into battles for power, and intimate struggles to do the right thing for oneself. I admit that I struggled with parts of it, mostly in the beginning, as I didn’t understand how each person fit into the story and the names confused me. There is a list of major characters for the reader at the beginning of this book and that helped me to keep things straight. Once I was able to see them interact together, I really enjoyed the reading. This story is a dissection of motivation and power told in a way that the reader can understand.

I am mostly sorry that I am done reading it. This novel was over 600 pages. I am going to miss checking in with this book, as I have been in this world everyday for the past two weeks. The good news is that, although it can be enjoyed as a stand alone, this is only part one of three parts. I highly recommend this book to lovers of epic high fantasy. I am really looking forward to the next adventures in this world.

My Rating

About the Author

Ken Liu has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards and been a finalist for the Sturgeon and Locus Awards.
His debut fantasy novel, THE GRACE OF KINGS, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2015. Saga will also release a collection of his short stories.
A programmer as well as a lawyer, Ken has published stories in F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed, among other places. Besides writing original fiction, he also translates fiction from Chinese into English.
He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and daughters

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I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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