cover image Strike the Zither (Kingdom of Three #1)

Strike the Zither (Kingdom of Three #1)

Joan He. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-25858-8

A skilled strategist infiltrates an enemy camp in service to a warlord in this expansive fantasy series opener from He (The Ones We’re Meant to Find). Eighteen-year-old Zephyr believes she’s the best strategist in the Xin Dynasty, which is ruled by “prepubescent sovereign” Xin Bao and her merciless regent, Miasma. Zephyr loyally serves Xin Ren, one of three warlords vying for continental reign and, as a member of the Xin family, the only one with a legitimate claim to the throne. When Zephyr is trapped in the empire’s capitol, she falsely defects to protect her cover and meets enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who suspects her motives. Amid shifting political agendas, she must survive perilous encounters with Crow, a long-lost family member, and nonhuman beings in this striking gender-swapped reimagining of the Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The protagonist’s clever narration and boundless ambition, coupled with He’s powerful, action-packed prose, quick pacing, anticipatory atmosphere, and immersive worldbuilding, exemplify the origins of the source material while developing a distinct and evocative adventure. An author’s note delves into the original work’s influence. Ages 12–17. Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary Management. (Oct.)