Member Reviews

I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I don’t know why I procrastinated reading this book for so long. I read this book in 5 days. With my thesis deadline approaching?? I think I was just intimidated by its size.

I flew through this book though. The first 40% took me a bit longer and I needed some warming up, but the last 60%?? Phenomenal.

Although it had been over a year since I read the first book, Chu manages to subtly put in references to The Art of Prophecy that it was easy to remember what happened at the end of the first installment, without it feeling like you were being read out a summary. I feel like part of the reason I was scared to start this chonker was because I felt like so much happened at the end of Prophecy, I just wasn’t sure what… Safe to say that was no issue.

I love Chu’s writing style and story. His writing is so easy to get through, and even though there’s so many story lines going on at once, it’s very easy to distinguish whose story you’re following every chapter, and that without having to put that in the chapter heading.

The last 60% were so good, but that last 15-20% specifically?? I just flew through that. I wanted to continue every moment that I could read, I just needed to know what happened next.

The characters are also all so fleshed out, and even the ones you don’t agree with you live along with and feel pity for in moments needed.

I am very excited for the next installment in this series and hope future me won’t procrastinate the third book as much as I did this one.

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"The Art of Prophecy" delivers an engaging sequel that explores the aftermath of a failed prophecy and the quest for personal destiny. Wesley Chu crafts a richly imagined world filled with martial arts, magic, and unlikely alliances. While the plot occasionally meanders, the characters, including Jian, Taishi, Qisami, and Sali, are compelling and well-developed, driving the narrative forward with their diverse motivations and struggles. Overall, this epic fantasy ode to self-discovery and resilience offers a satisfying continuation of the series, perfect for fans of martial arts and magic.

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Really good book. Second in a wonderful series that provides an interesting take on various martial arts and generational differences. Great world building and character development.

5/5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-arc of this book.

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I adored these characters and their stories in the first book of the series, but I hesitated to take the publisher up on the offer to read it due to the length. It’s a chunk at nearly 700 pages, but I’m glad I read it.

One of my favorite things about this series is the humor. It’s not entirely unexpected in epic fantasy, but it’s not the first characteristic that comes to mind when you think about this genre. Even in the midst of life-threatening situations, these characters made me laugh, and their voices are very distinct. I also enjoyed seeing some of them out of their element – especially the deadly assassin Qisami, who discovers a part of herself she didn’t know existed. Jian is maturing and after rigorous training is now a formidable opponent – when he’s not too trusting of others. Sali’s storyline didn’t grab me as much this time, but I still enjoyed her POV.

The fight scenes are tense, exciting, and wonderfully crafted, but some of them go on for several pages. That was the downside for me with this novel – the length. Many scenes aren’t vital to the plot, and I admit to skimming through several pages.

Despite the length, I’m sure I’ll be reading the final novel in the trilogy. I’d recommend this for epic fantasy fans who enjoy dramatic character arcs, witty banter, and strong female characters.

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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The Art of Destiny is the second book in Wesley Chu's "War Arts" wuxia/epic fantasy series which began in The Art of Prophecy (Which I reviewed here) . The Art of Prophecy was a lot of fun - you had your classic wuxia goodness (magic-like types of martial arts, battles of martial arts masters, etc.) to go along with some really interesting themes about destiny, conflicts between peoples, collaborating vs resisting, and more. And you also had a whole bunch of really fun characters - old master who's too tired for this shit Taishi, former righthand of the conquering "villain" Sali, and sardonic shadow-jumping assassin Qisami especially. The book was pretty long but was such a blast I never really felt like it dragged and I was pretty excited for where the series would go after book 1.

The Art of Destiny takes place 3 years after book 1 and remains a lot of fun as it follows its four main characters...but it definitely suffers from a little of second book in a trilogy disorder and has a bit of disconnectedness that does make the once again long book feel at times like it's just killing time. Whereas the last book went out of its way to feature a finale that brought all of the four POV characters together, this time the three groupings of main characters barely if ever interact, which is a bit annoying. At the same time again, these characters are a lot of fun as they go through new stages in their lives/this-world, with Taishi desperate to teach Jian before she dies, Jian trying to learn but also live without exposing himself, Qisami the assassin forced to go undercover as a maid, and Sali being forced to examine her own people's history as she searches for a cure for her illness. They're all generally pretty great, with new characters introduced who are pretty entertaining, so I still recommend this series and look forward to the trilogy's conclusion.

Spoilers for Book 1 are inevitable below:

Plot Summary:
Three years ago Ling Taishi, legendary martial arts master, was sent to evaluate Jian, the prophesied chosen one who was supposed to defeat the Enlightened States's most heinous villain: The Eternal Khan of the Katuia nomad people. Of course when the Khan was killed years before Jian was ready, the Enlightened States decided Jian was now expendable and marked him for death, forcing Taishi to go on the run with Jian to avoid the large bounties on their heads. Now after three more years of training, Jian is actually a capable martial artist...but clearly not good enough to match up with the assassins who might be after him. And Taishi knows her time is running out to train even if their hiding-place remains unfound, Taishi herself is dying.
Meanwhile Shadowkill Assassin Qisami finds herself and her crew demoted to the lowest rank for their failure to find Jian and Taishi, with Qisami forced to take menial kills just to get by. But when she and her team are abducted by a dangerous and treacherous noble, Qisami finds herself going undercover among poor commoners she somehow finds herself liking for the sake of a number of squabbling and treacherous dukes that could dispose of her in an instant.
And on the far side of the world, Salminde the Viperstrike, now unwittingly leading the Nezra clan of the Katuia, finds herself getting weaker and weaker as she suffers from the pull of the Khan...a pull she cannot and will not respect when the Katuia leaders would leave her clan for dead. But with the Nezra clan desperate to avoid their former people, Sali knows she needs a cure to avoid first her death and then the death of her loved ones...but the search for the cure will lead her to truths about her people she would never expect, truths that will force her to make a desperate choice that will change the world forever....
Like its predecessor, The Art of Destiny largely splits its narrative among four different point of view characters, from whose perspective each chapter is told. This essentially results in there being three separate story arcs for this story, as Taishi and Jian largely wind up in the same places even if their perspectives on the events they witness are very different (Jian being young, earnest, inexperienced, and still a bit naive, Taishi being pretty much the opposite plus a bit sarcastic). In the first book, that largely meant that the narratives would each develop on their own before coming together in the conclusion (which featured Qisami and Sali working together in an attempt on Taishi and Jian's lives, before they failed and Taishi/Jian got away). Here, however, as we're in the second book, these narratives are far more separate - Qisami and Taishi/Jian interact for like 5 seconds but do conclude in the same place, but Sali's story arc takes place entirely far far away from the other three and has no impact on it whatsoever....although it's heavily hinted that it will matter quite a bit in the series' finale.

The result of these now separated plot arcs is a bit of a mixed bag, but they largely work thanks to the fact that most of our main characters are simply a lot of fun to read. Taishi is excellent as the old bitter master desperately training her student before she dies from illness (and as the final test of her discipline involves killing her, that's a very important deadline), especially when she's now put in the situation of working with other martial arts masters who are very amusing in their own ways, like a similar woman who uses mental arts to disorient opponents or a man known as a legendary gambler based on his use of his skills to cheat and his love at gambling or even a drunkard who seemingly drank away his legacy and his right to be officially alive. Qisami is similarly a lot of fun - and I suspect she wasn't intended to be a major part of this series until the author found her too fun not to keep writing - as she tries to go undercover with her squad of shadow wielding assassins on behalf of a treacherous duchess and finds herself surprisingly caring for the innocent people she's working with. Sali meanwhile has to deal not just with her choice to save her people at the cost of their exile, but the fact that the pull of the Khan is killing her and finding a cure will take her both away from her people and force her to realize truths she never knew about her people. Even Jian's narrative, while a bit more paint by numbers and less fun, is still enjoyable to read.

And the book manages to combine really fun martial arts battles - with all sorts of new martial arts styles, combats, and more - into the narrative in the way the best Wuxia works do, which helps the character work and serious themes play out really well. And we are dealing with serious themes here, such as power, differences in class and how lower classes suffer when those in power attack, and how one's own history may hide its own atrocities and oppressions that one doesn't think much of, as Sali finds out. The result definitely makes me look forward to seeing how the final book in the trilogy will play out, and I have no idea how it will go, which is exactly what you'd want.

Again, it doesn't all work as well as it could, mainly due to how separated the narratives honestly, Sali's separate narrative works well because it's clear that it's going to be important to the trilogy's conclusion, but Qisami's narrative, if fun, just feels extraneous. I kept waiting for it to result in her and Taishi/Jian interacting again in a meaningful way, and while that may happen in the future, it just feels here like something that could've been skipped.

But all in all, The Art of Destiny is really good and definitely worth your time. Recommended, and if you haven't started this series yet, I recommend you get on that already.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

Wesley Chu has done it again! The Art of Prophecy was one of my favorite books of 2023 and I was so excited and nervous to see how chu would continue this story and I was not disappointed!

I strive to find a book that is immersive and brings me back to my childhood where I could easily get lost in a book for hours and The Art of Prophecy gave me that! I love the character building and world expansion of this book and I can’t wait for book 3!

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When I read and reviewed the first book in this series, I wrote that I was very much hoping for a sequel soon. Now that I have it, I'm disappointed to admit that I enjoyed roughly two thirds of this book. The other third, which followed the Viperstrike Saliminde, consistently dragged and failed to hold my attention. I can understand not wanting the final confrontation in Book Three to be against a faceless enemy horde, but Sali's sections just did not interest me. Initially, Qisami's sections didn't really do much for me either, but that may have been from trying to re-settle into the world mentally after more than a year. Plus, her sections did pick up eventually.

Taishi remained the highlight of this book, along with the descriptions of the different martial arts and artists. Jian, the mismanaged savior, reads as an authentic teenage boy, but not a particularly interesting one, particularly when it came to his interactions with anyone other than his master. Girl? Hubba hubba! Boy? Friend! Or foe! Older person? Seems like a Taishi problem! Lots of plot points could have been solved by Jian simply doing as he'd been told and remembering that he's a fugitive.

Despite what sounds like a lot of whining on my part, I engaged with (two thirds of) the text and always found myself reading more than I intended to every time I picked it up (figuratively speaking, since I read it on a desktop). I will probably read the third book if NetGalley allows me or if my library acquires a copy, but my expectations for it have been lowered rather a lot by this second volume.

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Jian had been The One. The Prophecy had proclaimed that a 'chosen one' would rise up, powerful and skillful enough to defeat the Eternal Khan - the immortal god-king. All signs pointed to Jian, and despite a seeming ineptitude for combat, he was taken on and trained by Taishi - an old woman whose greatness on the battlefield is legendary. But Jian is proving to be more difficult than even Taishi can train and so she has recruited a band of elderly grandmasters to come out of retirement to whip him into shape.

Then there is Qisami - an assassin who was meant to to kill Jian but failed. She's relegated to low-paying jobs since her disgrace but now has an opportunity to redeem herself. She must take on a new identity and finds that it gives her friendship and family - neither of which she's experienced before.

And there is also Sali who is suffering a soul-rot. If she can find a cure, then the Khan's soul would be returned and he could return.

I looked forward to this book. In my review of the first book in the series my complaint was that it didn't feel like a complete book - there was no end, and so more of the book was something to relish. But this volume ... eh.

The energy and excitement surrounding Jian, his legacy, and his training was gone. It was fun to discover who and what he was in the first book, but nothing really changes here. This book seemed to spend more time on some of the other characters which, while somewhat fun and unique, were not of as much interest to me. Is this series meant to feature a different figure from the book in each volume (this felt like a lot of Qisami's story)? There's nothing wrong with the idea, but I just didn't really care.

At nearly 700 pages, this really was way too long for me. I didn't get into the story and the characters felt much more bland. The shifting POV was distracting and halting rather than creating a lead-up to an intersection.

I've enjoyed Wesley Chu's work a lot up to this point, but putting in the time and effort to read a 600+ page book that turns out to be a slog ...? I'm likely to check the reviews first before going in to the next volume in the series.

Looking for a good book? The Art of Destiny by Wesley Chu continues the War Arts series but this volume is slow to get off the ground and doesn't provide the excitement and energy found in the first volume.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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I want to thank Negalley for allowing me to review this title!

The Art of Destiny by Wesley Chu is the sequel to The Art of Prophecy, one of my favourite books from 2023. It continues the story told between three perspectives: Jiang (the prophecied hero of the Tiandi), Qisami (assassin of the Shadowkill sect) and Salminde (a feared Viperstrike warrior). All three perspectives have their own missions to fulfill, and all from cultures that would eradicate the other if given the chance.

Usually in a fantasy novel there is a clear cut hero. In this series Wesley Chu has weaved a tapestry where all the characters that you follow are interesting and have solid reasons for what they're pursuing. I've loved seeing how each one grows and how the prophesy from the first book deviates from what is expected.

I also really enjoyed the humor that the book is written with. It makes the book a fun read. And having one of the main characters be an old grumpy woman reluctantly taking care of the so called Saviour of the Tiandi just makes it a lot more fun.

I have a feeling there will be more and I am already wating (im)patiently for the next installment!

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Thanks so much to NetGalley for the ARC!

How Wesley Chu continues to leave me speechless....seriously this series is absolutely phenomenal and never ceases to amaze me. To quote my review of The Art of Prophecy..."This book is spectacular, an amazing epic fantasy that breaks so many normal fantasy and literary conventions. It kept me guessing until the last page! And I don’t just mean for one POV - I honestly had no idea how any of the storylines were going to wrap up and I loved it! However I am now DESPERATE for the sequel."

This book follows the same POVs as Book 1 but they are all in drastically different places and circumstances. The pacing is slower in this book but the writing is just as good and storylines just as compelling - I never felt bored, even with less action.

My favorite thing about this book was how Chu expanded on the history, religion, and politics of each nation and group. It's a delicate balance, but Chu manages to keep the action and martial arts we loved in the first book while also building complex but accessible political and religious systems. While the first book focused on a war between nations, the sequel finds our characters embroiled in a civil war or 2 - heroes turned fugitives, assassins turned servants, fighters turn revolutionaries...the world and our characters are forced into drastic change but Chur manages to make it feel natural and provide an insane amount of information without making it overwhelming.

Wesley Chu turned so many tropes on their head with The Art of Prophecy and he continues to ignore convention with The Art of Destiny, and he does it WELL. This series is one of my favorite of all time and I NEED the 3rd book now.

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I feel like this series is really underrated. It's such a unique and interesting story and the cover art is immediately so eye catching!

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The Art of Destiny by Wesley Chu is the sequel to The Art of Prophecy which follows main character Jian and his mentor Taishi as they navigate what it means to be the prophesized hero after the prophecy has been proven wrong.

I absolutely loved The Art of Prophecy and was very excited for the sequel. This book felt much more character driven as you continue to follow Jian and Taishi but also Qisami and her team of shadowkills and Sali and her team. I found the world to be immersive as we visited new locations, and I enjoyed the expansion of the exploration of the politics and religion.

While I did enjoy The Art of Destiny, I did not enjoy it quite as much as the first one. Some of my favorite characters in book one were either not featured at all or were featured less in the sequel. I hope they'll return in book 3! The separation of the viewpoints felt a little bit more disjointed in book two since the various POVs were in radically different places doing different things. The storylines did come together, and there was likely a large amount of groundwork being laid for book 3.

All in all I'm still excited to continue reading and did enjoy this continuation of the War Arts series.

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3.5 stars rounded up.

Overall I really enjoy this world which feels straight out of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon with all these War Arts masters jumping on air or water, but some of the magic of the world was gone for me in this installment as we were particularly focused on two plot lines that both were locked to a single location. The plot was also quite meandering and this book definitely felt like the dreaded MIDDLE BOOK as we were clearly setting up for the coming conflict in book 2, but spent most of our time training or talking without much plot movement. I still mostly enjoyed my time reading this but the glacial pacing and overemphasis on slightly repetitive training sequences left me a little lukewarm. I will still definitely be continuing the series and hopefully the next book will make this one feel more "worth it."

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is every bit as funny and kick-ass-y as book one! There's far more chapters in The Viperstrike and Assasin's pov, or so it felt, this time around which I enjoyed immensely. I adore Taishi and Jian and their more familial relationship that blossomed in book 1 carried over into book 2 and how it informs their actions and decisions now as opposed to prior. Qisami's arc was quite a Rollercoaster of feels and assasin or not . . . I'm rooting for her where as book 1 I was intrigued by her but never on her side. If you want martial arts, some high stakes, but also a lot of hilarity, you'll love this series! I cannot wait to see how the Prophecized Hero, Assasin, and Viperstrike come together in the next book!

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A Triumph of Destiny and Choice - A Glowing Review for "The Art of Destiny" by Wesley Chu

Chu has done it again, releasing a worthy follow-up to his wonderful novel, The Art of Prophecy

Wesley Chu's "The Art of Destiny" transcends the conventional boundaries of fantasy literature, delivering a masterful sequel that beautifully weaves martial arts, magic, and the profound complexity of personal destinies. The narrative unfolds in a mesmerizing tapestry, challenging the very essence of prophecies and embracing the extraordinary power of individual choices.

The story picks up with Jian, once hailed as the chosen hero destined to defeat the Eternal Khan. However, as the prophecy crumbles, so does Jian's predetermined fate, leaving him as an ordinary young man searching for his own path. In a stroke of narrative brilliance, Wesley Chu takes us on an exhilarating journey as Jian joins forces with Taishi, his grumpy grandmaster, in a quest that defies expectations and redefines the hero's journey.

The characters, each unique and compelling, breathe life into the pages. Jian's evolution from a presumed savior to an ordinary individual with the potential for greatness is both relatable and inspiring. Taishi's gruff exterior conceals a mentor's heart, and the ensemble of elderly grandmasters injects humor and wisdom into Jian's training, making for an engaging and heartwarming dynamic.

The novel skillfully introduces Qisami, an assassin with a secret mission, adding another layer of depth to the narrative. As she undergoes a transformation fueled by newfound friendships and purpose, readers are treated to a poignant exploration of identity, loyalty, and the transformative power of companionship.

Sali's journey, exiled from everything familiar, transforms her into an unexpected leader and revolutionary. Her resilience and self-discovery resonate, illustrating how destiny can emerge from the ashes of apparent failure.

Chu masterfully navigates the intricate dance between destiny and personal choice. The thematic exploration of forging one's destiny adds a layer of philosophical richness to the story, transcending the typical fantasy tropes.

The prose is vivid and immersive, painting a world where martial arts and magic coalesce seamlessly. Chu's storytelling prowess shines as he crafts a narrative that is both epic in scale and intimately connected to the characters' personal struggles.

"The Art of Destiny" stands as a testament to Wesley Chu's storytelling prowess, offering a riveting and thought-provoking experience. With its rich characters, intricate plot, and profound themes, this novel is a gem that will resonate with readers who crave a fantasy narrative that transcends the ordinary. In the grand tapestry of fantasy literature, "The Art of Destiny" boldly claims its place as a modern classic.

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Wesley has done it again! I'm sucked right back in, baby. Love this multi-POV story, and we get to see more of this weird world?! Sign me up for this series, and I love this Chinese High Fantasy series. The subtle and loud humor is so appreciated in fantasy, and it continues even more here.

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In this second installment of WAR ARTS series, we follow Jian, the prophesied hero supposed to defeat the Eternal Khan of Katuia and bring peace to his people; Ling Taishi, a windwhisper grandmaster; Salminde, the Viperstrike (a childhood friend of Khan) and Qisami, an assassin shadowkill.

Picking up where THE ART OF PROPHECY leaves off, Chu shows dedication to explore several lineages of war artists while introducing different flavors of war arts. When relationships are established, the characters - more attached to their closed ones - carry their own burden. Some are meant to be greater while others struggle between unfulfilled purpose x find their own life's purpose, their bond formed by shared trauma defining a tight knot. Too many new characters are delivered at once and it can feel quite overwhelming to keep track of them. Regardless, they work together to give readers broader perspectives and add complexity to the story.

The author spends time in details - with rich descriptions and war arts feel more expansive. Betrayal, forgiveness, pride and sacrifice are loaded in the pages, weaving an emotional touch into the narrative. Readers will find elements of humor and mental game, one of the aspects that I love in this book. The story starts slow and it feels lukewarm until halfway, when things are tied up. I personally had expected to linger in the main characters, without being distracted by secondary ones.

In THE ART OF DESTINY, the characters dive deeper into politics and the story focuses on leadership/guardianship with all its brokenness. I appreciate reading about the strong connection between master and student and I am hoping to have it further exposed in the final installment. With the last 100 pages punctuated by tension, this novel closes with exhilarating battle scenes and a cliffhanger.

For wuxia lovers (like me) or just fans of fantasy, Chu delivers a full plate to savor. I hope more people read this series and I am ready for the final book.

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I was lucky enough to recive a copy of the first book at San Diego Comic Con. This was a great second book in the series

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I love this series and I wish it got more love on bookstagram! The second book is just as good as the first, as we get to know the characters more and dive deeper into their motivations. Most of them are still reeling from changes in what they perceived as their destinies, so there’s a lot of figuring out what to do next, but there’s also still fun action and relationship building. And I love that there are lighter moments interspersed throughout.

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Wesley Chu describes this series as “failed prophecy but funny”. The first book, The Art of Prophecy, was one of my favorite books last year. It’s indeed funny but also has stellar battle scenes, complex emotions, and more. And an older female character who’s powerful and smart and mean!

The Art of Destiny picks up almost immediately where the first volume left off. Jian is in training under Taishi and other masters. Qisami the assassin, disgraced after the events of the first book, takes on a deep undercover mission with her cell that has the power to change their fortunes for the better… but Qisami discovers it’s changing her.

I can’t reveal much more without spoilers, but this was fantastic and I eagerly wait for the next one!

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