Weekly Capsule 36.2 & Book Review: The Grace Of KingsPosted: September 8, 2015
This book has been mentioned around the sci-fi & fantasy circle under the term “silkpunk“, which is how I was drawn to it in the first place. You know how steampunk is influenced by the Industrial Revolution? Well, silkpunk is influenced by the myths and technology found in East Asian antiquity, resulting in things like battle kites, airships made from silk and bamboo, and mechanical whales. Now that I had to check out.
Also, I grew up with all the classical Chinese novels, so I wanted to see how a modern author might draw inspirations from those. In fact, I would say “The Grace of Kings” is very much Romance of the Three Kingdoms meets Game of Thrones, and it features plenty of characters or even plot lines similar to Three Kingdoms. The main plot revolves around a rebellion against a tyrannical regime in a world reminiscent of the Warring States period of ancient China, specifically the two men at the head and heart of it – Kuni Garu, a street-smart commoner who rises to the top thanks to his wiles, and Mata Zyndu, the last remaining heir in a line of proud warriors who perished under the current emperor.
My verdict? I could’ve liked it a lot more. Like GoT, it deals with interesting themes like the cost of peace, the effect of power, and men’s moral ambiguity, and there are some kick-ass female characters – always a plus for me. But I cannot get pass the writing, which is super flat and rushed. Everything the characters think or feel is told to us; storylines are set up and resolved within the same chapter. The funny thing is, those classical Chinese novels use the same third person omnipresent voice and are similarly episodic, yet somehow I don’t have a problem with them. Maybe it’s the language. I read an English translation of Dream of the Red Chamber once and thought it dryer than dust. I guess English is just not suitable for this kind of storytelling.
3/5 stars. But I would still read the next book.
About the outfit inspired by the book, I pulled this top out of the deep dark corner of my closet because of the embroidered design, which is reminiscent of Chinese scrolls, and added my yellow flower brooch to represent the dandelion – after all, the series is called “Dandelion Dynasty”. The rest of the outfit I kept simple, mostly because I have no idea how else to style this top. I have paired with black almost every single time I wore it. Maybe that’s the reason it was shoved in the corner in the first place.
Blouse & Heels: local shops, Pants: thrifted, Brooch: vintage