Descendant of the Crane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I think Descendant of the Crane is going to be one of my favorites of 2019.  The world-building in this book is masterful and the characterization is so well-done.  This book is totally immersive - I could hardly put it down.  I pre-ordered a copy the second I finished the e-galley, just so I can read it again in April when it releases.
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This book just wasn't for me. It had been compared to Game of Thrones but it liked that excitement for me. I felt more like I was reading a textbook than an exciting novel. It didn't really get good until a twist about halfway in. Even then, the twist wasn't dealt with the way I thought it would be and I found myself yet again bored. I didn't like the ending at all and it didn't make any sense to me. Most of this novel didn't make any sense to me and I wish we had gotten a lot more background information on the various other kingdoms and the sooths. I felt like I was plopped into the middle of a history book having no prior knowledge about anything they were talking about. None of the characters really stood out to me, nor did I connect with them. The side characters weren't flushed out very well. The very brief blip of a romance actually just made me mad. There was no prior hints at feelings or anything and suddenly she was kissing someone who could be seen as her savior. 

Overall, I thought this book was lackluster and could've used a lot more character and world building.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*
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This book hit on a lot of the things I love in fantasy, and in books in general, and ended up being one of the stronger books I read at the end of last year. I loved the characters and I enjoyed the story and I’m excited to read more of Joan He’s work in the future.

Forbidden Magic. This is one of those things that I absolutely adore, partly, I think, because it adds to my fantasy that magic is in fact real and is just being hidden from me and I will one day discover my magic powers – just me? Ok. But I enjoyed the way that this played out as part of the narrative, the idea that Hesina needs to use magic to find out what to do but is aware that to do so could cost her the throne and the good favour of her people.

Law. I could just as easily type ‘lore’ because the two are very much one and the same in this book. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from ‘the Tenets’ written by one of ‘the Eleven’ and treated as the law books for the kingdom. Not only did I enjoy how that element of worldbuilding played out in the book (no spoilers), but I also enjoyed how the characters twisted and manipulated the tenets throughout the story. Quite often, particularly with books that concern royalty the law is something that is often ignored with the justification of ‘I am the monarch and I can do what I want’. In this case, Hesina has to learn to use the law to her advantage and it makes her place as a piece in a wider game feel so much more powerful and interesting.

Detective stories. I haven’t read a good detective story in a while (though I’ve watched quite a few) and I’d forgotten quite how much I enjoy them. Akira is a great character who I think many readers will delight in. While this book isn’t a detective story in the traditional sense, there are a lot of elements of that in there, the overarching plot is driven by Hesina’s desire to find her father’s killer. Again, I enjoyed how this played out, with many twists and turns throughout the story. I will say that the addition of fantasy elements makes this even more fascinating.

I had a wonderful time reading this book, and I have no doubt that many others will feel similarly. I have (shamefully) read very few Chinese-inspired fantasy books and this has definitely encouraged me to seek out more of them. If you’re looking for something new to read that has heaps of politics, dodgy dealings, royal conundrums and a dose of magic then I would suggest you order a copy of Descendant of the Crane.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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When I saw that I was approved for this arc, it made my eyes sparkle. At least, that's how it felt like to me.

This book is literally too high quality for this world. I want to assimilate it into my being and find a way to apply all of Hesina's qualities and knowledge into my life. Who is Hesina, you ask? Oh, just the main character of this story WHO IS A CONSTANT REMINDER THAT GIRLS ARE BEAUTIFUL AND ETHEREAL AND I AM A PILE OF INCOHERENT SEAWEED WHEN IT COMES TO THAT. This story is heartstopping and unique. The plot centers around gorgeous and complex cultures and addresses important discussions in today's world. Asian inspired game of thrones is being thrown into early reviews and I can testify to that. The strong world-building and carefully-crafted characters set us up to care even more when the action really kicks in and lives are threatened. It is the very opposite of the "mindless action scenes" I have been complaining about recently in fantasy novels. I cared so deeply about the characters that the action scenes were extremely tense and terrifying.

All in all, this is a sweeping epic tale that has complex and detailed world-building that is seamlessly integrated into the story which I loved!! Sooo when can I get Joan He's next book?
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Descendant of the Crane is easily one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen in my life, and I cannot wait to see it in print. We’re told not to judge books by their covers but you can go right ahead because this story is just was beautiful and constructed as it looks. It took me a little time to settle into Hesina’s narration but once it settled, I was completely sold. Descendant is lovely and brutal and unforgiving all in the same breath and I can’t wait to read the next one!
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This book had so much that I loved about it; good world building and really pretty imagery, political intrigue, female lead, plot twists, and magic. I really enjoyed it the bulk of it, but the last 60 pages or so felt really rushed and left me feeling a little unsatisfied.
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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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