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3.8 out of 5
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  • 8 person found this review helpful

    8 people found this review helpful

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    An engrossing book about power

    One of the best things about The Grace of Kings is that Ken Liu cares about all of the details of life. This means that we hear about ideas for better tax collection, about how poetry influences choices, about how the smallest move toward power can have massive consequences. I loved this first book in what will be a trilogy - loved the way Liu dealt with the deeply unsettling nature of imperial power and ambition, loved the way he let his characters learn and grow (or not, in some cases) during their lives. There are many reversals, feints toward the imperial throne, pretenders who end up losing because of their mistaken self-regard, and in a Shakespearian fashion, the way that the two main male characters end up paying for their desires and ambitions. This book, though it contains quite a lot of action and what seemed like neverending rebellion and war, also shows the intellectual and philosophical sides of those who wish to rule or influence large events, and so I think some reviewers find it slow - but instead, it's rewarding to realize how choices of learning and study can change the outcomes of war campaigns or even public relations campaigns for rulers. Is it better to have a federal system, or should towns/states/regions rule themselves and damn an empire? Is it better to be bold, or to be fierce, or to seek to understand power? What are the prices women and men pay for ambition and allying themselves with the ambitious? All of these considerations come up in the course of this book. I look very much forward to books 2 and 3 in this trilogy.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

    0 people found this review helpful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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    Great, sweeping fantasy epic

    The Grace of Kings is a great, sweeping fantasy epic. I haven't enjoyed a fantasy book this much in a while. It does a great job of telling the tale of the collapse of an empire as the characters struggle to bring about a better world. The characters are flawed, well-written. Ken Liu does something that not many authors can actually pull off: he believably portrays characters with differing world-views. It's great. I also find the author's use of the omniscient POV refreshing. Most of the time he writes in the third person limited that is to be expected in the genre, but he doesn't hesitate to pull back at the right time to show us a broader view of what's happening. Including intrigues and conflicts between multiple gods is not my cup of tea at all, but in this book these scenes were few and spread out and most importantly they didn't interfere with or overpower the rest of the story so they didn't take away from my enjoyment of the rest of the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy. It's excellent. Well-written and engaging as well as thoughtful. The best part for me was the world-building. It was so smooth and effortless. instead of inventing many ridiculous words for every last thing (which is what seems to be passing for world-building these days) Ken Liu just tells the story and the world-building just comes with that, with things being explained only when necessary. That's how you do world-building!
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