The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu
Publication Date: August 9, 2022
Summary from NetGalley:
So many stories begin the same way: With a prophecy. A chosen one. And the inevitable quest to slay a villain, save the kingdom, and fulfill a grand destiny.
But this is not that kind of story.
It does begin with a prophecy: A child will rise to defeat the Eternal Khan, a cruel immortal god-king, and save the kingdom.
And that prophecy did anoint a hero, Jian, raised since birth in luxury and splendor, and celebrated before he has won a single battle.
But that’s when the story hits its first twist: The prophecy is wrong.
What follows is a story more wondrous than any prophecy could foresee, and with many unexpected heroes: Taishi, an older woman who is the greatest grandmaster of magical martial arts in the kingdom but who thought her adventuring days were all behind her; Sali, a straitlaced warrior who learns the rules may no longer apply when the leader to whom she pledged her life is gone; and Qisami, a chaotic assassin who takes a little too much pleasure in the kill.
And Jian himself, who has to find a way to become what he no longer believes he can be—a hero after all.
ARC provided by Random House via NetGalley for an honest review.
I swear that there must be some unwritten rule that high fantasy cannot be less than 500 pages! That occasionally can be a bit of a drag on the narrative, but in this case that was only a little bit true. There are some overly slow places and sometimes the descriptions, which were awesome, bogged down the narrative. But overall this was a fabulous read that I really enjoyed.
There are four characters that are the main narrators, with a few chapters here and there from other points of view. I loved Jian, who was such a spoiled brat when we first meet him, but grows into such a lovely young man. I am really looking forward to seeing him grow into his own as the chosen one. Even though Taishi was a bit of a cliche, I still really enjoyed her character. She was so acerbic to everyone, but you could tell that she had a soft spot for Jian. Sali was a little harder to like, but she does eventually win you over. Her loyalty to her sister and to her cause were also admirable. Quisami was also hard to like, but she often gave some comic relief and I loved her banter while she was fighting.
I really enjoyed the world which is based on asian martial arts and culture. Basically there are two warring factions, the Zhuun and the Katuia. It was never totally clear why there was a war between them, but the politics and the war were front and center of the culture. I loved how the chosen one troupe was turned around when the person that Jian was suppose to kill was actually killed by a nobody soldier out on patrol. This sent everything into a spiral on both sides and it was interesting to see how things played out.
The fight sequences and the training scenes where well done, and I especially loved the names of some of the moves. If you are fan of martial arts films and shows, then this is something that you will appreciate. I also loved the descriptions of all of the different places that the characters visit. So well done and often I was able to visualize it so clearly that it was almost like I was there.
This was a great first book in a series and one I recommend, especially if you love high fantasy based on martial arts. There are also some great characters that you will find yourself rooting for even if you don’t like them very much.