The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a very interesting tale, reminding me as I read it just how little I still know of Chinese history. I want to romance kingdoms and wallow in all the warring states, and yet, from everything I do know, this novel is and remains unique.
It borrows from the old histories to make a thoroughly modern fantasy epic.
And when I say epic, I mean epic rises to power and grand falls, with a few memorable characters (mostly women) and an absolutely huge supporting cast. Armies march from the start and armies march at the end, and nowhere in the middle are we lacking any battle.
It's the story of two brothers-in-arms, one nobel, one not, their rise together and their falling out, tearing the land into chaos.
I was immensely impressed with the care and effort taken into bringing a Chinese-immersive narrative into a modern english epic while including a decisively steampunk flavor. Let's fly a kite, shall we? Tactics and war, tactics and war.
Beyond that, it was the Marshal that I loved the most. All the women were fairly complex and multi-roled, but it was the Marshal of the armies that made me whoop. :)
I really liked the novel and I'm very impressed by it, but alas, I can't really see it as the winner of the Nebula this year. I did get slightly bogged down in some of the battles, but not all. Some were quite interesting. The two main male characters that the whole thing revolved around could have been more... flavourful.
It's just my preference. I've read a lot of great fantasy. This isn't the top and it certainly isn't the worst of the lot. It was absolutely interesting, though.
View all my reviews