cover image The Grace of Kings

The Grace of Kings

Ken Liu. S&S/Saga, $27.99 (640p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2427-1

Hugo-winning short story author and translator Liu opens his ambitious first novel, which launches the Dandelion Dynasty epic fantasy series, with hefty helpings of political philosophy and violence. When the unpopular Emperor of Xana dies, leaving his unprepared 12-year-old son to take the throne, rebel factions across the empire seize the opportunity to strike blows for freedom. Encouraged by prophecies, picaresque bandit Kuni Garu quickly becomes an unlikely forerunner in the crowd of would-be rulers. He teams up with the scholar Luan Zya, who adds some wisdom to Kuni’s usual flashy scheming, and the two join forces with warrior Mata Zyndu, last of the once-powerful Zyndu line, who believes it’s his destiny to rule. The route to power is decidedly crooked, and the outcomes are very much in doubt. Liu seasons his fantastical Han Dynasty drama with plenty of intrigue, passion, bloodlust, and even a nod to historical feminism, against a backdrop of magical and technological marvels. Epic fantasy fans will enjoy this large-scale story of political strategy and skullduggery. (Apr.)