The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu Review

The Grace of Kings is a fantasy novel (also labeled silk punk) written by Ken Liu and is the first book in the Dandelion Dynasty 

The novel explores power, friendship, empires and how it can all change. It’s very thought provoking in what power people, how to conquer and how to rule. Are the people who conquer necessarily the ones who should rule and vice versa? All of the sacrifices that are made behind the scenes that you don’t really consider but do those sacrifices are sometimes thankless. Different approaches and what happens after is sometimes more difficult to manage than the fighting. It takes generations. Adding in meddling Gods on top of that leads to a very intriguing story. 

What I liked:

Exploring what happens after war, after an empire is overthrown. How do you handle that? How do you not become what you tried to overthrow in the first place? How much does your personal history play into your decisions?

Is brute force better than other strategies? Which approach is best? Is there a best approach?

With war and conquering you’re going to have violence. It glazed over the violence and didn’t get too descriptive but you knew there was going to be suffering. It did enough to describe it without getting into detail so your brain filled in the gaps. 

What does this whole process does someone, how they evolve over time and how much they change. 

The world (Dara) becomes a character in itself. The characters are all very defined.

The culture is very different from other fantasy books I’ve read, it’s great to explore the different culture and norms in this setting.

Surprising deaths and events. 

What I didn’t like:

There are a lot of characters and lots of names. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep up, and they are sometimes referred to as different names as their status changes.

The middle was very battle heavy, and it felt a lot like reading a history of what happened. Sometimes it became a little dry.

Overall thoughts:

I really enjoyed this one, I wasn’t sure what to expect but it left me a lot to think about. To tell the story with such a large scope and still have such defined characters is difficult to do but Ken Liu pulls it off in this one. I liked that there were different strategies for battles and conquering and how the characters were contrasted against each other. A lot is left open for you the reader to interpret and decide which decisions were good or bad.

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Author: Steve

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