I’d previously read and enjoyed Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, as well as been impressed by his wordcraft for the English translations of Chinese works such as Broken Stars, Invisible Planets, and The Three-Body Problem. Even after all that, it was only recently I realised that he’d released full novels. This was the first one of those that I read.
The book is an investment in time. I think it clocked in over 800pp on my Kobo and it took a couple weeks of pre-bed reading to get through it all. Despite its size, the story flowed quite well. Liu also did a good job of reintroducing characters as they appear later in the book, which helps a lot if you’d forgotten who they were already (which I always had).
While it’s categorised as a fantasy novel, there’s very little that’s fantastical in it. The story is largely one of politics, war, and people. I’m not usually a big fan of tales of politics and war, but many of the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading to see what happens to them.
If you enjoy that politics and war fantasy novel thing, you’ll be happy to learn that there are several other books that follow this first one in The Dandelion Dynasty series. If you, like I, usually give such things a pass, you’ll be glad to hear this story ends in a good place, so you’re not left hanging and forced to read the next volume to see how things end.
That’s the direction I’ll be taking. I’m glad I’ve read this work but feel no strong pull to complete the set. His writing remains as skillful here as in his short fiction; the subject matter simply isn’t to my personal taste.