The Wall of Storms

Saga: S. & S. (Dandelion Dynasty, Bk. 2). Oct. 2016. 880p. ISBN 9781481424301. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781481424325. FANTASY
OrangeReviewStarThe Dandelion Empire is at peace, with Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, ruling Dara with his wives, Empress Jia and Consort Risana, by his side and four children being educated to carry on his dynasty. But a rift grows between the military and the nobles with many of Kuni's family and old friends lining up on opposing sides. Only scholar Luan Zya refuses to take part in the Imperial government, preferring to wander the world and record his observations. His travels inadvertently lead to disaster for Dara when a foreign force invades. While Liu's Locus Award-winning The Grace of Kings was largely the story of the power struggle between two strong-willed men, this sequel paints a complicated picture of what happens after victory: the challenges of rule, the rivalries at court, the competing visions of what is right for Dara, and the unexpected plunge back into war. Women have more to do in this volume as well, with Empress Jia a fascinatingly ambitious figure as well as new character Zomi, a student of Luan who comes to the capital.
VERDICT This absorbing fantasy, influenced by Chinese history yet utterly fresh, gets better as it marches along. Despite its length, fans of epic fantasy will devour this story and be clamoring for the next entry. [See Eric Norton's SF Genre Spotlight, "Imagined Multiverses," LJ 8/16.]
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