Descendant of the Crane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

A whirlwind of political intrigue, forbidden magic, assassins, and found family, DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE is a must-read.

The pitch of ‘Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones’ rings true. I was impressed by the way that author Joan He handled her court drama, balancing it with a wonderful wealth of characters, world-building, and intrigue. 

I enjoyed being able to piece together the puzzle, and was happily thrown by various plot twists throughout the novel. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the series! 

5 out of 5 stars.
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The story had some really good ideas, although it didn't give me a lot of suspenseful moments i would have liked to have seen more of.

Hesina was a great character who was driven to find her father's murderer, her story throughout this investigation unfolded well in terms of how she realised her life has changed or things weren't as she always thought they were.

I would say that the ending felt a little anticlimactic, and that i would have liked to see more action or suspense scenes that wasn't just political or formal meetings between characters, although i  should say that Hesina's character can only really fight this way sometimes.

It wasn't a bad book, but i wish it had been a little more exciting.
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Wow. Let me just take a few deep breaths and process what just happened!! I was very lucky to be approved for an EARC over at Netgalley - and I am so grateful that I did. Had I known what a gripping ride I was in for - I could have prepared myself. 
I am going to find it hard to describe how much I adored this book. I was gripped to the story the whole time I was reading it, especially the last few chapters - I couldn't sit down!!

Descendant of the Crane follows Hesina, a Yan Princess - on a mission to find out who murdered her father (no spoilers as this is in the blurb!). The story follows this process and all of the trials, deceit, betrayal and adventure that comes with it.

The world building and scene setting was incredible. Such vivid and beautiful descriptions provide the backdrop of this wonderful world. So much culture is to be found on the pages of this book. I have learnt so much.

The characters were well developed and complex. There are so many twists and turns with the characters that I couldn't keep up (in a good way!). My heart was broken and rebuilt many times throughout this story. My favourites are Hesina, Lillian, Mei and Rou (my love Rou!!) and of course Akira. I won't go into detail as to why, but you will find out when you read the book *which you MUST*

Roll on April when I can own a hardcover edition of this fabulous book. The cover is beautiful and captures the intricacy of the story very well. 

Thankyou thankyou book world for allowing me to read this book pre-release. Everyone, you must read this book!
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Received this book from Netgalley. I liked it but found the protagonist to be annoying and a bit lacking, she never really makes a stand and I found the love interest predictable and without any spark. I was surprised but didn’t care when one of the main characters died. It all felt a bit clumsily put together, especially the ending with the change of POV which I felt was a bit too summary/plot-dumpy and might’ve been better as the start to the second book. I also don’t feel like much happened within the novel and that some of the conclusions the protagonist draws (especially in the end about Kendi’a and the kingdom) were pulled from nowhere and didn’t make sense. The world building was fairly good and interesting but I didn’t feel like enough was resolved in the novel and am not sure if I’d want to read the second book because a lot of the questions raised in this novel are already answered in the ending.
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3 1/2 stars. Descendant of the Crane centers around a murder investigation of the previous emperor's mysterious death, which is instigated by his daughter, Princess Hesina. The book opens with Hesina visiting a sooth called the Silver Iris with her adopted brother and sister, who also serve the royal court. This visit is meant to determine whether or not Hesina should proceed with a trial since she believes that her father, the emperor, did not die of natural causes as the imperial palace and the people believe. Instead, Hesina believes that someone murdered her father but she doesn't know how or why. 

Of course visiting a sooth and using their powers to determine the best course it not an easy nor a legal task. Soothes and their abilities have been outlawed since the beginning of the new dynasty ruled by the Yan and established by a group of eleven outlaws, who wrote the founding rules for the new empire. The relic emperors were made up of a class of nobility that used soothes to control and manipulate power and keep the population oppressed. When the rebels killed the last relic emperor, they founded a dynasty that outlawed using soothes and created a government with a series of checks and balances, which attempted to avoid the issues from the relic empire. However as Hesina delves deeper in the murder of her father, she soon discovers that this new and fair system also has problems of its own. 

The story really begins after the Silver Iris foretells Hesina's future. She tells her that in order for the murder investigation to proceed and to be successful, she will have to enlist the help of a criminal with a rod and he will have to be representative in court. This of course is when we run into a problem of the new and improved system. Princess Hesina finds her criminal but the royal court system dictates that representatives must be selected at random to avoid favoritism or bias. So, Princess Hesina makes a deal with the Minister of Rites to have Akira, the criminal with the rod to be assigned as her representative. This action sets off a chain of events that slowly opens Princess/Queen Hesina's eyes to the problems in her own kingdom. 

This book really takes on a multitude of story-lines that tie together rather well and produces a believable character arc. First, there is the murder investigation of the last emperor, growing tensions between Hesina's kingdom and their rival, the Kendi'ans, Queen Hesina's suspicion of treachery within her own court, as well as, her discovery of a secret about her father that would tear the kingdom apart. As all of these various story lines unravel, Queen Hesina's reaction to her circumstances illustrates an increasingly strong conviction in her radical beliefs and raises the stakes for her future as her actions become more volatile and threatens her position. Hesina as a character is not without flaws; she makes mistakes, trusts the wrong people and eventually grows stronger. And, I am beyond excited to see how she grows in the next book and comes into her own power. 

All in all, the author really knows how to deliver suspense in a political form and promises a sequel, where the stakes will only get higher. I cannot wait for the next book and believe that He will deliver an equally thrilling tale filled with even more dastardly political agents and reveal even more potentially damaging secrets about the new dynasty that will threaten the entire Yan kingdom.
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The only word I can use to describe this b9ok is luscious. The world, the characters, the story - all beautifully crafted and perfectly executed!!
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The complex family, the lush world, the twisty plot - this was everything I hoped it would be. 

The world building was my favorite part. It was immersive without being too wordy, and it pulled me in from the very beginning. I am AMAZED.
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This book was not meant to be an easy fluffy read. This book is going to bring out ferocity, anger, pain, and sadness. It is wonderfully written and beautifully poetic. Each character has a back story that unfolds in ways you aren’t expecting. You root for one side then switch as you find out more and more.
While I began with a dislike of the main character I think that was supposed to happen? As the book progresses she got less naive.
Perfect for fans of fantasy, retribution, and magic. But be forewarned that this book will destroy you with each page and require some serious reflection before you can move on.
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The plot was interesting, however it did not feel unique. The characters also did not seem to have been fleshed out until halfway through the book. I would recommend this for young readers who want to start in a fantasy genre.
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Billed as a "Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones", this title certainly didn't disappoint. Full to the brim with intrigue, betrayal, court drama and unforgettable twists. Lavish and breathless, this is a must read.
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Pursuit of the truth and justice leads to some unexpected and unpleasant discoveries in Joan He's Descendant of the Crane. 

Princess Hesina Yan has been an eager learner but far less eager of taking up the responsibilities of rule that her education has been leading her to. With the untimely death of her father, Hesina is thrust into power as the queen of a kingdom threatened with various tensions from without, from competing nations, and within, from her family, advisors, and people. Determined to find her father's killer and seek justice, Hesina seeks out the aid of a soothsayer, despite the treason behind such an act, and opens up an investigation with a skilled convict as her foreseen representative. Bringing to light far more than Hesina bargained for, the facts she learns makes her question her, and her peoples', belief in the tenants they abide by.

A tale of intrigue focused on the manipulations common within an imperial court made political intrigue far more accessible to younger readers by conveying it through the perspective of the young and fresh-from-coronation queen. With world building that feels complete, yet also allows for further growth that would feel organic, the story gains a complexity that is believable, particularly when coupled with the missteps and growth that Hesina experiences on her pursuit for the truth. The relationships portrayed throughout the novel vary but all remain complex and realistic, including familial strain and trust, grudging acceptance with a strong mistrust of motives from advisors, and reliance upon the strengths of others despite a sense of independence. Though the story does reach an acceptable ending, the openness of the ending and the shift of perspective in the epilogue begs for more information to resolve some larger questions that arise.

Overall, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
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The Descendant of the Crane reads like a first time novel written by a very young and very inexperienced author and so I was not entirely surprised to learn the author is a college senior who began the novel when she was in high school. It suffers significantly from the "and then" trap -- that is the plot seems to chug along from one thing to the next on the power of "and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened" without any sense of intention or overall design. It's a shame really, because the plot is interesting and the world described is engaging. I'll read the next volume in hopes that the author's style matures. The potential is there, it's just not realized yet in this particular book.
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I'll probably write a longer review of this later and post it to my blog (I'll add a link later). 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters and their choices seemed realistic (if sometimes questionable) and the relationships that develop throughout are full of depth. Deception at every corner and a teenage Queen trying to forge her own destiny while upholding the memory of her father are fodder for a fantastic story line. 

My FAVORITE part of this story is the setting. The Chinese culture with which this story is built is fantastic and not one I've readily seen in fantasy or young adult literature. Even the descriptions of clothing, ceremonies, food, and social interactions were delightful and enlightening, adding to my own understanding and knowledge of China (I read some interviews and know she made some changes to make it more appealing to a modern audience, which I think may have been a good choice). 

Overall it was a wonderful read. Felt a bit choppy at the beginning but it was like the beginning of the roller coaster when you're slowly going up and then you crest the top and BOOM you're in for a ride!
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This book was added to my NetGalley shelf during finals week, which was unfortunate for my studying productivity level because I became completely engrossed in the world of Descendant of the Crane. Joan He is an excellent storyteller, and her balance between attention to fine detail and general plot pacing is extremely well done. As a half-Taiwanese American, the symbolism and nods to Chinese history, politics, art, and culture were particularly enriching. I especially enjoyed the side characters--each has a distinct, fleshed out personality and readers can readily empathize with the cast as plot twist after plot twist unfolds. 

I plan to incorporate this book in my college-level young adult literature course curriculum. Its portrayal of a largely uncharted historical period in the young adult genre lends to excellent discussion about emerging diversity in YA. Additionally, the aestheticism steeped in Joan's rendition of the Chinese imperial court can be compared and contrasted to the predominantly European aesthetics popular in mainstream YA historical fantasy/fantasy novels, such as Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. 

Descendant of the Crane does not disappoint. It has enough delicately woven twists that are easy enough to follow, yet complex enough to surprise. The political statement it makes is relevant to contemporary issues despite being embedded in a historically inspired setting. I look forward to holding a physical copy of the book in my hands this April so that I can ogle the gorgeous cover even more.
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When Princess Hesina of Yan is thrust onto the throne as Queen after her father's death, she declares a trial to seek the truth and must race against the clock before an innocent pays with their life. As the trial unfolds Hesina realizes that everything she has known is not what it seems, that she and her family are apart of something much bigger than she could have ever imagined, that those closest to her aren't who they appear to be, and not every villain is black and white. Seeking justice for not only her father, but the one's who now call her their Queen, she sets out to carve out her own fate and create a better home and future for her people. 

Descendant of the Crane is a Chinese inspired fantasy chalked full of betrayals, court intrigue, family dynamics, twists, turns, revelations with a side of swoons! The majority of the book is planning and plotting to get everyone in their places and around 70% is where I couldn't stop reading and had to know what was coming next (bob and weave because those reveals will fly at your head!). 

Debut author Joan He has carved out a nice little nook in the YA Fantasy world and if you are a fan of Chinese inspired fantasy or just fantasy in general, this will easily fit into your book world too. Releasing April 2, 2019, start marking those calendars!
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This book was added to my do not finish pile. What I liked about the book was the rich history and the amazing visuals the author was able to convey. I was able to see the court and was able to see every motion in clear details. I loved this aspect of the book. What I didn't like was Princess Hesina of Yan. She doesn't listen to people. She doesn't trust people but expect those around her to trust her. For a Princess, who wasn't interested in the crown until the murder of the King, she jumps into the role as if she has always been preparing for it. She is so entitled that I couldn't stand it. 

Another issue that I had with this read is it felt like this was a book two and I missing everything. I love when books jump right into things but only if its well done. I felt the author took jumping into things with the intention that if you start at the middle, a reader will be heavily invested. 

I was invested but not heavily. Its just as I was reading it always felt like I was missing something. I stopped the book at chapter 12. Will I pick it up again? I am not sure. I have seen a lot of high ratings and a lot of positive reviews., which will warrant me to give it another try but for to the DNF pile it goes.
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Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy.

There are some very light spoilers in my review.

A bit of a mixed bag this one. Some really good aspects and some things I didn’t enjoy so much.

The book is set in a Chinese inspired fantasy kingdom. I usually really enjoy novels set in China or inspired by China and the author did a great job of incorporating cultural features into the narrative and this really helped bring the world to life.

Initially I thought Hesina was totally bonkers and clueless but I warmed to her as the novel progressed. Her actions seem contradictory to her inner monologue but taking into account the conflict between her personal desires and her obligation to her people it actually made her character quite realistic. All too often YA queens and princesses are ridiculously and unbelievably perfect and honourable and it was quite refreshing to see a flawed character in the position of Queen. I also enjoyed the dynamic between Hesina and her mother.

I didn’t actually foresee the twist that happened about halfway through the story which was a nice change again from how predictable some similar novels can be. The ending was also good if a little rushed and it certainly opens the door to a sequel.

Some of the issues I had were around the characterisation. For example Sanjing being the perfect swordsman, a master of strategy and commander of the army at age sixteen. I just couldn’t accept that as credible. I also didn’t understand why one of the main antagonists was just left to his own devices. It seemed utterly bizarre why a Queen wouldn’t use her powers to sort him out, especially one as morally grey as Hesina. The court scenes were also kinda meh and devoid of any real tension.

Some of the dialogue was quite iffy too e.g.

“There are no shadows in daylight, are there?”

Uhhh yes? There totally are? Shadows are literally formed by light.

The dialogue could also be a bit strange at times and it could be hard to follow who was talking. Some of the characters didn’t really have a unique voice and their motivations sometimes seemed contradictory as I didn’t feel I got to know some of them very well at all.

Overall, on balance, I did enjoy this novel. I assume from the ending that the author has future plans to continue the story and if so I’d look forward to reading what happens next.
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I enjoyed this story very much. I finished it within the course of two days, and not because it was a quick read. I read it because the characters were unique and the Chinese infused storyline was intresting. There were many plot twists that I didn’t see coming. I did figure out one of the characters, Akira, pretty quickly but he was still one of my favorites. I wish I had the same level of support the main character Hesina possessed from her family and friends, including those related to her through blood, adoption and a shared parent. Positive aspects aside, I found a few grammatical errors sprinkled throughout the story that were somewhat distracting. Its nothing that a decent editor can’t fix and certainly shouldn’t discourage a potential reader from requesting it. Because people really should read this! It was a very good book that left me reeling from everything that had happened and anxiously awaiting a sequel. It did end on a somewhat small cliffhanger, but I was okay with that because a character I had previously felt betrayed by redeemed themselves and because the ending made me want more. I’m confident that those who read this will not be disappointed.
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Descendant of the Crane is as fascinating as the cover. A fantasy set in a fictional Asian world with a complex plot and characters that captivate with their flaws and their strengths. 

The world-building has both a historical and modern perspective with complicated political contrivances. The relationships among the characters are particularly interesting with secrets and agendas that are not always shared. 

When Princess Hesina's father dies, she is elevated from princess to queen of a large kingdom with plenty of problems. Hesina also has questions about her father's death. She is certain he was murdered, but by whom? 

In desperation, Hesina visits a soothsayer, a treasonous act, but one that may give her the means of having her father's death investigated. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Descendant of the Crane and found the characters complex and sometimes surprising and the writing vivid, weaving the threads of family, tradition, myth, and politics a little at a time so that the reader sees the intricate pattern gradually. 

Listed as YA, the book is certainly appropriate for that age group, but as with all good stories Descendant of the Crane appeals to anyone who wants a well-written tale about intriguing characters in perplexing situations. Hesina's determination will reveal truths she doesn't like, and she is forced to take side-steps and to make concessions, but nothing will prevent her in her ultimate goal.

Read in December, blog review scheduled for March 12, 2019.

NetGalley/Albert Whitman & Co
Fantasy/YA. April 2, 2019. Print length: 400 pages.
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Descendant of the Crane is one of my favourite books of 2018.! It was so riveting that even when I had to put it down I couldn't stop thinking about it, and was eager to dive back in.  

It featured everything I love about fantasy - complex characters, rich world-building, and surprising plot twists. He painted a vivid picture of the world, so much so that I felt fully immersed in the story. It was so easy to root for Hesina the main character, in fact all the characters were interesting and layered. The writing style was also beautiful and it flowed really well. 

Overall, a very addictive read!
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