The Grace of Kings

The Grace of Kings (Dandelion Dynasty #1)

By: Ken Liu

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

I was really torn on this book.  If I had only given it the first 100 or so pages, I would have never have gone any further.  This could be why I don’t tend to try and read too many epic fantasy books.  They mostly seem to start so slow and spend so much time building the world and characters without getting anywhere, or really doing much with the plot.  The same is mostly true here. There’s enough of a cast of characters in the novel that we spend a great deal of time introducing them and getting backstory for each.  We also spend some time, rightfully, learning a bit about the history of the world that we’re entering.

Liu is a talented writer, who has a skill with prose that makes it worthwhile to continue on into the story.  Eventually, after he’s done the building, and we get into the meat of the story, the characters bring you into the plot.  The plot and characters really saved the book for me.

This is likely to be seen as one of the better epic fantasy novels of the year, and if you’re into epic fantasy, it really should be added to your to-read list.

Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon

By Steven Erikson

I’ve seen this book on countless lists as one of the best fantasy books and series.  So, I picked it up off of PaperBackSwap so I could check it out.

It’s an epic fantasy set in a fantasy world.  The book follows several different groups of characters.  A group of veteran warriors called the “Bridgeburners” who are on the cusp of being eliminated by their own leadership.  A group that’s comprised of a odd, round talent, an assassin, a thief, and a displaced noble.  And a few others for good measure.

Erikson does a wonderful job of world building and an especially good job of building the system of magic in the world.  But, that’s about where my enjoyment of the book ended.

It’s been a long time since I’ve found a book that I’ve contemplated putting down and not finishing.  This was one of them.  The book dragged on and on.  I found parts of the book eternally slow, and in my opinion, unnecessary.  Whole sections of the book could have been cut and not detracted from the story at all.  Everything else seemed extra wordy as well.  Many of the more subtle plot points and plot point revealings were almost too subtle.  In fact, I’m sure I missed a few.

Most books, despite being in a series, have an ending that ties things together and seals off some of the points.  But this book was very clearly meant to lead directly into the second book.  Only about half of the plot arcs seemed to be finished or, if they were, were finished in a very vague way.

To be fair to the book, I’m not an epic fantasy fan.  So, maybe fans of Tolkien might enjoy this book.  And perhaps they do considering how widely this book is recommended.  One things for sure.  It’s not for me.