Cover Image: Descendant of the Crane

Descendant of the Crane

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Member Reviews

While I wouldn't describe Descendant of the Crane as an "Asian Game of Thrones" (because to compare anything to Game of Thrones is setting up the reader with unreachable expectations), it was still a compelling and wonderful read. The author executed the plot twists with ease, I had no idea they were coming. The writing style kept the reader interested and engaged. The parallels of actual Chinese culture are well placed and leave the reader wanting to learn more. I also loved how authentic the characters were, each of them are well-enough developed that I was genuinely interested in each of them.
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At least this book managed to get me out of a slump of not being able to actually finish anything, even if my interest started to wane towards the end... I'm not sure if it's what I'm reading at the moment or more about me. 

Anyway, on to Descendant of the Crane, which had all the makings of a book I would really like and which mostly lived up to what I was expecting. The basic premise is that it's the start of a series and book 1 is all about the accession to the throne of Hesina on the sudden death of her father - she's convinced he was murdered and a good-sized section of the book deals with her investigations and the subsequent trial (including attempts by less savoury elements of the court to scapegoat someone they dislike). 

Our setting is a kingdom where a previous monarchy was overthrown by eleven rebels who then instituted a rule based on the Tenets they'd written, including institutionalised hatred and violence towards 'sooths' - people with powers around influencing the future, whose blood burns as a convenient way of identifying them. As a result, the sooths are now in hiding in Hesina's kingdom even as she's looking for a way to overturn the current system (while staying queen). One of the neighbouring kingdoms is enslaving the self-same sooths but using them as weapons, which only helps to inflame the hatred against them in Hesina's kingdom.

At the start of the book, Hesina has consulted one of the sooths herself even though this act is considered treasonous, and ends up recruiting a thief from the dungeons as her advocate and assistant throughout the court process. Akira naturally has a hidden history and all sorts of convenient skills which turn up when needed and Hesina just keeps pursuing him romantically even though he's consistently spurning her advances. Seriously, this sucks when the roles are reversed and is equally unappealing when it's this way around, one of the things I least liked about the book. 

At the end of the book, Hesina finds herself in hot water and someone within her family turns against her, to the point where she and Akira have to flee. What puzzled me was that the author then chooses to finish this particular part of the series with a chapter explaining why that person was not bad really and is actually working for Hesina's benefit in the long run. That would, to my mind, have worked much better as a reveal later on in the series.

There's a couple of bombshells dropped by the author along the way that tip this firmly into fantasy from mock-history, as it's revealed that certain individuals are actually functionally immortal - the search for this had been considered scandalous on the part of the previous regime, so it's passed over a bit more lightly than I'd expected. Maybe this will get picked up later on down the line?

So, in the end it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read and I'm mildly interested in where it'll go next but it will probably be one of those series I'll pick up via the library or if it's on sale. No pre-orders for this one, I'm afraid!
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Prepare to have your socks knocked off.  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. 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 political maneuvering and world building in this book were phenomal. Joan He painted a beautiful picture including details about the setting I didn't even know I needed but ultimately enjoyed.

That being said, I didn't love it as much as I'd expected. I enjoyed the twists and reveals at the end, but the first 60% of the book was hard to get through, and the romantic storyline hinted at in the synopsis was a bit of a letdown. While the setting was interesting, I didn't fall in love with any of the characters and there wasn't quite enough action or intrigue to keep my attention.

All in all, a solid 3.5 with a little bump because I loved getting to know the world. Perfect for fans of Shadow of the Fox, Six of Crows, or Furyborn.
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My introduction to this book was actually through Leigh Bardugo's Goodreads interview to promote King of Scars. Given how much I loved the Six of Crows duology, I thought anything that Bardugo was recommending was definitely worth a look, so I requested this on NetGalley and was chuffed to be approved.
There is so much great stuff going on in this book - Joan He draws a richly detailed world based on Chinese culture, seen through the eyes of newly crowned queen Hesina. Packed with court intrigue and banned magic, the atmosphere really oozes out of the pages of this book, and the imagery is rich with evocative scenery and sumptuous descriptions.
The pacing is a little choppy and uneven - some scenes rocket by, months passing as we gallop across the country on horseback, and some plod ponderously past, lingering on seemingly unimportant details. Hesina also has a lot of siblings, for reasons I can't quite understand - one full brother, also an Imperial royal sibling and a general of the army, two adopted siblings, twins, who she seems closest to, and one half-brother, child of the Imperial consort and with whom Hesina has a fraught relationship. All these different elements mean that her family relationships are massively fractured - and this isn't to even mention her mother, who hates her for completely inexplicable reasons, and her dead father, whose murder is the catalyst for the whole story.

There were elements of this book that I wasn't so keen on - I know that YA is based around teen characters, but the fact that Hesina's whole team of investigators is made up of her siblings and a convict, and they're all under the age of twenty, is stretching the bounds of imagination a little, especially when you think that this is an investigation into the murder of a king.
As well as that, the final chapters of the book - and especially the epilogue - were choppy and unfinished, and didn't actually wrap up the story. The author pegs this as a standalone, but by the end of the book, nothing has been resolved, which I hate. The characters are poised on the brink of great change, but that change isn't coming in this book.
I knew that was going to happen as I sped towards the climactic ending, because there just wasn't enough time left to resolve everything satisfactorily. I can see why the author did it, and definitely the action cuts off at a natural breaking point, but there is just so much unresolved in this book I can't in all honesty see it as a fulfilling ending.

I did really like the style of writing, thought Hesina was a great main character, and loved the depiction of sooths and their magic system. I also really liked the blind hatred of the populace and Hesina's slow unpicking of her long-held beliefs. Nothing in this book was resolved easily, and there was court intrigue to beat the band. And with so many siblings running around, Hesina had a whole host of complex relationships to unpick. But the book as a whole left me slightly unsatisfied. 
I'll definitely read a sequel, if there is one, but I don't know how much I can really classify this one as a standalone.
That cover, though? Stunning.
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Initial Thoughts: Just been approved for an e-arc of one of my most anticipated 2019 releases!! This cover combined with the Chinese-inspired A Game of Thrones comparison has me anticipating great things from this one.

Review: "Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own." From this very first line of the synopsis I knew this was going to be the book for me.

"A well-conceived costume is a new identity." From this very first line of the actual book I knew I was going to be immersed in all the political scheming, court intrigue, and high-stakes action that I had been so highly anticipating. And I was not wrong.

Fantasy books following the inner-workings of the royal court and with society's ruling members as their central characters are my favourite to read about. What this book did, inside this much-used outline, is deliver the reader something entirely new. The book begun with treason, was followed by murder, and the stakes were only ever raised from there. My trust was tested with each twist added to this deliciously dark tale and even as I bonded with the unforgettable cast of characters I knew I could never trust them, or the author, with what was going to be delivered next.

Joan He made not one fault in this meticulously constructed story-line, this vivid world, and these entirely unique and authentic characters. I was enchanted by her words and immersed inside her world. This book lived up to every one of the crazy high expectations I placed upon it. I was in absolute adoration of the writing, throughout, and in utter denial over how shook the ending had me, as I turned the final page.
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3.5 out of 5 stars

In short, the pacing was a little shaky in some parts of the book, but the twists, reveals and themes behind the book were amazing. Not all the characters are deep, but they don't have to be. The characters that make it worth reading to the end if you're unsure to continue part way through are Hesina's father and Caiyan. The worldbuilding is hit or miss depending on where you are in the book.

The layers of the characters peel back as the story progresses because the plot revolves around a mystery, but I found the cast to lack depth and/or characterization for the majority of the book. Hesina seemed naive at first, but she does grow on you as she learns more about the mystery of her father's death. However, Hesina also seemed to lack a distinct personality and much of what we know about her is related to her family (understandable) and presented in the form of flashbacks. Li Lian is an example of having the opposite problem: she has distinct characterization, but it would have been nice to see more of her by herself. This also applies to Caiyan to a lesser extent in the beginning, but that is remedied later on. 

The plot was slow to get into for 2/3 of the story - I wasn't partial to the court procedures. The inclusion of Akira's character didn't seem particularly relevant outside of the court besides being the designated love interest, though he has potential for growth if there are more installments in the series.  

I love that this is a Chinese-inspired fantasy, I can't get enough of it. The food descriptions are great, and overall I find that if you're into period C-dramas, it's no problem in envisioning what this world is like plus the add-on fantasy elements. In the same vein, if you are familiar with C-dramas the worldbuilding outside of the established setting of Yan may be lacking. 

On the surface level, the choice of which Chinese terms to keep as is and which ones to translate into English was odd, and some italicized terms were repeated too often even when the audience was already introduced to the meaning. For example dianxia, hanfu, and wansui are perfectly fine to keep as is, but other terms like yuejing (menstruation) seems oddly placed when the English term would have been acceptable to use. This may just be nitpicking on my part, but I would say it's to evoke a sense of aesthetic in the reader's mind that "this is ye olde Chinese" if they are unfamiliar with period C-drama/historical aesthetics. I honestly prefer retaining certain terms untranslated in Chinese, but the logic for each individual choice in DOTC is unclear, especially when there are examples like pai fang archways (memorial archway-archways). 

The writing doesn't make learning about the outside kingdoms and international releations interesting because it's mixed in with the court trials, which is by far the most boring sections of the book for me. There are a few chapters where Hesina meets with the crown prince of another country, and the incorporation of the soothsayers in these scenes is intriguing and well done. 

The strongest aspect of DOTC is the thematic leanings within the text in relation to the revolutionary changes in the kingdom of Yan brought by the Eleven. It plays into the perceptions and fear the public can hold when they are not privvy to the truth or are unable to handle it, leading to persecution based of beliefs and alignments to sooths (though this can be applied to other groups for IRL parallel). This is all very compelling. It's woven strongly in some parts of the book more than others, but always manages to resurface at the right times, which is when I enjoyed DOTC the most. I only wish Hesina as a main character had a better grasp of handling this sort of large scale understanding of her people, but I suspect she will grow into it if this continues as a series. 

I'd think more focus on international relations and the soothsayers (basically anything outside the imperial palace where Hesina and co. reside) would have done this book wonders in keeping my engaged. However, we don't see enough of the world ouside of Hesina's home to actually *see* more of the sooths, their magic, and the history and mysteries regarding the Eleven who ushered in a new era in the kingdom. We get some of this content, but I don't feel it's nearly enough to build up to the great ending we got, since instead we are shown a plethora of scenes where Hesina is getting lost in flashbacks, doing paperwork and repeating the words 'truth' and 'lie' like buzzwords. I  know Descendant of the Crane in the end is about Hesina and her family, and the ending revelations about them all is worth reading the next book (if there are more!) and keeping an eye on Joan He's work as she grows as a writer.
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This cover is stunning. I knew the second I saw it and read the synopsis I was going to need this book in my hands! Thank you NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for allowing me to read the advance readers copy. 

So to start this book would have been even better if the ARC on net galley had been proofed a little more. I'm not going to lie, it made it very difficult to read, and the beginning of that chapters almost impossible. I have it on goo authority that it's already been fixed and that the new copies that were sent out to readers via mail and physical copies are not this way. Which is good because to deter from from the story would be a. waste, it was written too well and the plot and characters are great. 

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He was beautifully written, the world building was almost perfect and the characters were very intriguing. This is all due to Joan He stunning ability to craft scenes and paint vivid pictures with her writing. 

Basic overview of the story is a princess/queen will do anything to keep her kingdom safe. She is strong and fierce but has her own flaws. The trials and tribulations she faces through out the book will keep you interested until the end of the book. Descendant of the Crane has very light romance, almost non existent and lots of political and regal intrigue and twists. 
Grated there are a few slow pockets through out the book, and the ending is something that will leave you wondering. Which I don't like for a stand alone, but this is just my personal opinion. 

Overall a good read and I recommend. I can't wait to see what everyone else thinks!!
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I requested Descendant of the Crane from Netgalley because the cover is amazing, the premise sounded fascinating and I was intrigued by the combination of fantasy and mystery.

It's #ownvoices.


I loved this book. It was such a fun read and I couldn't put it down. I read it on the airplane and I finished it really quickly.

As I mentioned in my post Thoughts On: Series vs Standalones, I have been frustrated with first novels in fantasy series. They usually just focus on the build up and there isn't much plot. But my goodness! This title! It is one of the few fantasy book series starter that has been published in 20xx that has a full plot and is complete in itself, and when I got to the end I was very satisfied with how complete it felt.

There were so many funny bits which definitely alleviated the seriousness of the novel, and it was intriguing to see how humour interacted with the severity of certain situations.

I liked how detailed and complex the plot is, and the end is definitely not clear from the beginning.

The title was fascinating and it was interesting to see how it was woven into the storyline.


This book is great! I enjoyed it so much and I am so excited for book 2!

Trigger warnings: death, murder, violence.
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Somber but brilliantly written, this fantastical tale of cat and mouse will be loved by fans of Renee Ahdieh and Leigh Bardugo.
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Descendant of the Crane is billed as the Chinese Game of Thrones, and while I've never read nor seen it, I can definitely tell you that this comparison is 100% accurate. The plot? I couldn't put this book down. The writing? I wanted to highlight something on every page. The characters? I would lay down my life for all of them. You honestly need to put this book on your tbr lists; it's one of my favorite 2019 releases, and I actually kinda hate that I got to read it as an ARC because how am I going to live until the sequel releases??

This is a debut, which, honestly, shows that Joan He is coming for all of us with her future books. For this to be her first ever book published? Astounding. The writing is amazing and mesmerizing; the worldbuilding is spectacular (she really helps you understand all of the different little aspects of the world without info dumping); and the plot was so intricately planned that, despite seeing the first plot twist coming, I was completely blindsided by the 1234567890 twists afterwards. I was honestly the "pikachu_with_his_mouth_open.jpg" meme the entire second half of this book.

And the plot progresses at such a balanced pace, not too fast and not too slow. I honestly couldn't put it down because every point would lead to another scene that led to another scene that I couldn't take my eyes off of. Your eyes will be glued to the page. And the concept of the trial was very intriguing, mostly because I haven't really read anything similar in YA fantasy.

All of the characters are so great, I loved all of them (even the one at the end who [redacted] iykyk)! Hesina, the main character, is a girl after my own heart. Her character arc is so poignant as she searches for the truth about her father with the help of a convict, Akira, and her siblings, Caiyan, Lilian, and Sanjing.

Speaking of her siblings, I loved seeing their relationships. Caiyan and Lilian were taken in by Hesina and Sanjing's father, so they aren't related by blood, but Hesina loves them as if they were. Sanjing, on the other hand, has more of a complex relationship with them, and it's interesting to see how Hesina deals with this, as he scorns Hesina for her close relationship with the twins. Also, Hesina has a tense relationship with her mother although there are reasons for that that she'll find out...

One of my few issues was the romance. I loved Hesina and Akira as characters, but to me, it just felt like she had a crush on him? It felt a little insta-lovey to me, but that could just be me. Hopefully their relationship will be further developed in the next book.

This book was a captivating, enthralling masterpiece of a debut. It's been months, and I'm still not over that ending! Joan He's writing is amazing, the worldbuilding is expansive, and the plot will hypnotize you, with its stupefying twists and turns. You won't be able to put The Descendant of the Crane down. Pick this #ownvoices Chinese fantasy up on April 2! (And pssst, I have it on good authority that you'll get some really cool goodies if you preorder.)
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I requested an eArc of Descendant of the Crane by Joan He from Netgalley, and I am also a member of the street team for the book! (Ministry of Works, what!!!) I am so happy I finally got a chance to read it, I feel like it’s been glaring at me through my kindle forever. Once again, as has been the case so often with Asian inspired YA, this wasn’t what I was expecting!

I was drawn to this book due in part to my love of Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa, there is no denying that. The two books are very very different! Descendant also differs a great deal from The Girl King by Mimi Yu, yet another recent release that I loved. This all conspires to indicate that I may just have a soft spot for books in this vein. Whether or not that is the case, I found a lot to love in Joan He’s debut novel.

I knew the book had a pretty big cast of characters, but I felt that the focus was primarily on Hesina. She is tasked with a big job early on in the book, arguably the biggest. She has to deal with a lot of family drama simultaneously, and I felt that she was able to balance it all fairly well considering the amount of emotional trauma she had to wade through. Akira was a character I thought I would love, and I did enjoy him, but he didn’t get enough page time for me to really sink my teeth into him as a character. He did however play a large role in one of my favorite aspects of the book.

Descendant spends a lot of time exploring the justice system of Yan, Hesina’s home country. Not only are the laws society has to follow laid out, but the actual execution of those laws is tracked through court proceedings. I thought this was super interesting and fed into my love of true crime drama. Totally unexpected in this YA fantasy novel, and I ate it up! It did slow the pace down somewhat, but I didn’t mind it. You might be surprised by it if you are wanting something more high action.

Though there are some really awesome fight scenes, don’t despair!

In addition to the justice system, Hesina’s court and her people play a huge role in the plot. She spends a lot of time thinking about how her choices will affect everyone in Yan, for good or ill. I thought it was refreshing to see a YA book with royals at the fore, where downstream effects on the whole country were actually important. So often I feel like the choices made by YA royals only matter to the royals, but of course their people will be impacted.

I have so many additional thoughts on the book, so I’m going to post about it again closer to the release date. The ending was so powerful, I cannot wait to do a reread, and of course to get my hands on book 2. Let me know if you’re planning on picking this one up on April 2nd!
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I want to start off this review by refuting the claim that it’s a Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones.  I honestly believe that got me in the wrong mindset from the beginning, because that comparison left me wanting so much more.  Descendant of the Crane features a fairly messed up royal family, but otherwise, this is its own thing.

The opening of the story is great.  We start just after the death of the king.  The atmosphere is gloomy and unpredictable, even dangerous.  The main characters steal into a disreputable district to seek forbidden magic.  It’s a great beginning.  It pulled me right me.  The characters we meet are distinct and interesting – the desperate princess, her cautious adopted brother, and the sarcastic adopted sister.  They’re well-matched and interesting together.  After the opening scene, my interest started to wane.

Characters that were interesting at first failed to develop.  For me, Lillian was the most interesting of the collection.  She spoke with a more unique voice than the others, and added a bit of lilt to the dialogue.  The main character, Hesina, waffled back and forth between what she believed and what she wanted.  The ultimate betrayal was so flat that I couldn’t bother to be surprised.  It was all so… underwhelming.

If I had to pick, it was the plot that really lost me.  The story is supposed to follow the king’s murder trial, but the scenes in the courtroom are few and far between.  The way the trial is treated and manipulated made the whole thing feel like a joke.  At its core, the trial didn’t matter anyway, because Hesina was always off doing her own thing and getting her own answers.  In fact, the entire plot of this novel was about the young queen and a greedy advisor having it out behind the scenes and pulling the strings of the system to get what they wanted.  It was petty and uninteresting.

What was interesting was the magic.  I wanted to know a lot more about the magical system, and I wanted to see more of the sooths.  The sooths were central to the story, and yet, they only seemed to pop up when there needed to be a moment of political hysteria.  All the interesting bits of the story surrounded the magic-users, how they had been hunted, and the future different rulers wanted for them… but Hesina was all over the place.  And because of her uncertainty, the plot was all over the place.  Sometimes she was looking for murderers, sometimes she was having spats with siblings.  Sometimes she was parading for her people and sometimes she was lecturing about the history of her kingdom.  I wish the story was more focused, because a lot of things were happening, but most of them felt very irrelevant.

Also the ending?  The ending was anti-climatic.  It may work if this is intended to be a series, but honestly, I don’t know if I would read on?  If you’re looking for an intense Chinese inspired fantasy about war and magic and injustice, I suggest The Poppy War.

It’s not all bad, but I think my main takeaway from Descendant of the Crane was that it could have been so much more.  And I feel like kind of a jerk leaving a less-than-favorable review.  This debut is getting overwhelmingly positive reviews.  And I am so so glad readers are enjoying it.  But I’m also seeing that a lot of these reviews are from critique partners and the social media squad, so go in with in open mind, and you’ll probably like it more than if you go in expecting the next George R. R. Martin.
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Descendant of the Crane was a really entertaining book about magic and its place in a world that hates it. The story was well paced and full of twists and turns that kept me gripped the whole way through. I would definitely recommend this book, and will be keeping an eye out for a sequel should it come my way.
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Unfortunately this book didn't work for me. I thought the world was an interesting one and well written. Political intrigue plays a big part in the story and He did a great job at weaving the threads of the plot together. I love intrigue in fantasy books so I enjoyed this element of the story. However I wasn't invested in the characters and that created a distance between myself and the story. I didn't really care for Hesina as a protagonist and found her to be quite frustrating at times. In general the characters were well written, if a little lacking in depth. While there were elements of the plot I enjoyed, it dragged throughout the 400 pages. Overall this one wasn't for me but if you enjoy YA fantasy then I would definitely recommend checking this one out.
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I tried really hard to like this.  It's not awful. But I felt like Sina made a lot of foolish decisions, went back and forth on herself a lot. I was confused here and there about what was happening. Some of the words used weren't explained, and while I understood from context that Diania was a term of respect and the rest were mostly clothes related, I would have liked more explanation. But it's not an awful read; there was a twist I didn't see coming, it was interesting enough to keep reading, and I'd read more in the series to see what happens next.

Not amazing, not awful, a middle of the road for me.
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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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