Thursday, December 15, 2016
The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu
The Wall of Storms is the sequel to The Grace of Kings, which I absolutely loved when I read it. But, I also read a volume of Romance of the Three Kingdoms between the two so when I first started this, I was very confused as to what happened in The Grace of Kings because it drew pretty heavily on Chinese history.
But luckily most of the main characters here are new, so I got used to it after a few chapters. The "main characters" from The Grace of Kings are: Kuni Garu and his wives (Jia and Risana), Gin, and Luan. The new characters are: Kuni's kids (Thera, Phyro, Timu and Fara) and Zomi.
To be honest, out of the four kids, only Thera made a strong and positive impression. Fara seemed to be more of a prop, Phyro was unmemorable and I wanted to punch Timu at the end of the book.
But it's a large cast of characters and I suppose I can't expect to love and remember all of them. Oh, and even though I didn't mention their names, plenty of characters from the previous book do appear, they just don't play as big a role.
The Wall of Storms can roughly be divided into two halves: How an Empire keeps its peace and The Foreigners Invade. I liked the first half better, but that's because despite having their history, I couldn't stand the invaders (Lyucu people).
And while I liked how the plot moved for most of the book, there was a series of chapters (that was essentially all flashbacks) during the invasion that I skimmed. I suppose important information might have been there and I might have missed some (hence my inability to sympathise with the invaders), but I wanted to read about how the fighting would turn out, not about the past. I wish those chapters could have been moved somewhere else.
Oh yes, the 'Greek chorus' using the Gods of Dara felt about the same as before. I liked it, especially when they meddled, and I thought their changes based on how the invading people thought about them pretty interesting.
And now for why I'm in two minds about continuing the series. While the writing was gripping, Jia is making me seriously reconsider reading on. I much preferred her to Risana, Kuni's other wife (although I don't think I mentioned it in my first review - just that I liked her) and the path that she is taking is just breaking my heart. I'm quite afraid that her end will not be what I hope for her, which is why I'm considering stopping here.
In a way, I guess I should have listened to myself in my first review (that I checked to refresh my memory about the book) and not have read on, because the ending of the first book was much more hopeful than this one. Plus, even though this isn't really a cliffhanger ending, it's so obviously leading to a third book so it doesn't feel as 'complete' as the first was.