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Phoenix Extravagant

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  869 ratings  ·  283 reviews
Dragons. Art. Revolution.

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the aw
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Solaris (first published October 15th 2020)
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JP Hulford From their website: My standalone fantasy Phoenix Extravagant is out from Solaris Books. It’s about a nonbinary painter teaming up with a pacifist mec…moreFrom their website: My standalone fantasy Phoenix Extravagant is out from Solaris Books. It’s about a nonbinary painter teaming up with a pacifist mecha dragon against an evil empire (as one does), and it takes place in a magical version of Korea during the Japanese occupation.(less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I wanted to read this book because of the mechanical dragon (Arazi). Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the dragon parts until almost 40%. But after that, it was pretty much ongoing. I loved Arazi so much!

I enjoyed some of the characters but wasn’t pulled in by anyone really. I did love Jebi and some others but I still wasn’t totally pulled into the story. I also got confused a lot as Jebi was either, Jebi or they. I have read a few books like that and it was fine but this one was a bit more confus
Sometimes a worldbuilding is as steampunk as it is folktale, and sometimes a family is an obstinate non-binary artist, a prime duelist and a philosophical mecha dragon, and isn't that just perfect?

Phoenix Extravagant is the story of Gyen Jebi, an artist married to their profession (read: kind of... oblivious about anything that isn't art) as they get caught in the middle of political machinations involving a revolutionary movement in Hwaguk, a fantasy country heavily inspired by Korea under Japa
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
See that dragon on the cover? Yep. It definitely stole the show.

As for the story, I think I want to classify this as a silkpunk tale feeling quite like the Korean-Japanese occupation, with automatons, a simple magic system, and an overarching theme of rebellion.

The main character wasn't one I really grew into, however, and the romance was only slightly interesting to me. I enjoyed the intrigue more. I especially liked the whole thing more when we got to a certain automata.

I should mention one th
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, review-copy, ks
4.5 Stars
Video Review:

I  basically loved every aspect of this novel. As a rare standalone in the fantasy genre, this book held a wonderful complete, satisfying story.  I almost felt it could have been longer, but mostly because I enjoyed it so much that I would have loved to spend more time with the characters in this world.

The main characters were complex, well developed and generally quite likeable. I appreciated reading from the perspective of a nonbinary person,
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely wonderful.

Having read the Machineries of Empire, which I describe as a New Weird space opera, I was expecting the same kind of mind twisting here. Don't get me wrong, I *like* New Weird, so I wouldn't have been upset, but I was nevertheless surprised by how easy to read this was.

This book is set in a thinly disguised secondary world version of Korea, occupied by a thinly disguised secondary world Japanese Empire. The protagonist is Jebi, a not-Korean artist just trying to get
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
4.5 stars.

Dragons. Art. Revolution.

Jebi isn't a revolutionary. They're an artist, and they just want to paint, dammit. So when they're turned away from the painting exams, thrown out of their house after their sister finds out their adoption of another man, and they get an offer from the Ministry of Armor to paint—they take it. Granted, they have little choice, but they take it.

"If standing on principle means that you lose the people those principles are meant to protect, what's the point?"

I. Lo
It pained me to give three stars to a Yoon Ha Lee work. Maybe because I read many better stuff from him. It might not be fair to compare this with his Machineries of Empire series, but it is just not as enthralling or engaging. It has no level of complexities like in MoE. The main character, Jebi, was not as colorful as Jedao, to say the least. In fact, they made me feel morose from start to finish. If I have to treat it as an individual book, giving it another star would be a huge stretch.

The s
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.
One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.“

My first thought was that this was inspired by China, maybe HongKong, but I adjusted that thought to Korea, after having come across a Kimchi pot. And that turned out to be right, when I looked up the author‘s website.

“It’s about a nonbina
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

3.75 stars

I can finally say I've read my first Yoon Ha Lee book! And I thought it could have gone a lot worse, considering the short stories I've read by him, but also it could have gone slightly better? I confess I was hoping to give this book 5 stars.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I am not good at summarizing what this story is about because there's many themes
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goldsboro
This tale of a reluctant revolutionary, unsuited for rebellion but burdened by guilty debts and a compassionate heart, is unexpectedly wholesome for a book about overthrowing a repressive government. A secondary-world fantasy, Phoenix Extravagant is inspired by the Japanese occupation of Korea, but with 100% more mechanical dragons and a delightfully queer society that includes a non-binary protagonist, non-heterosexual on-page relationships and an adorable poly family.

The highlight is Arazi the
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
More than just a beautiful story of a nonbinary protagonist and their mechanical dragon, Phoenix Extravagant is a powerful tale of art, identity, imperialism, and family. Yoon Ha Lee deftly juxtaposes the beauty of words with the starkness of plot, the hard edges of his characters with the soft edges of his monster, creating a reading experience that’s as unique as the story being read.

Jebi is an artist and a sibling, inspired by the need to create, but increasingly driven by the need to share t
Aug 19, 2020 marked it as to-read
That cover gives me BSL (Big Shen Long) energy and I'm here for it.
*Imgur is down so please hold for a Shen Long gif*
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll discuss this book more in depth in an upcoming video review! Subscribe here!

Having read Lee's Ninefox Gambit, I knew that I should expect a few things from Phoenix Extravagant: an incredibly immersive and original world, great characters, and a compelling read. While I enjoyed Ninefox Gambit, his latest novel absolutely blows it out of the water for me.

Lee manages to strike a fantastic balance between darker themes and lightness and humor that makes this book a fast-paced and incredibly fun
The Captain
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

I read this because mechanical dragon and Yoon Ha Lee.  While I loved the dragon and the art magic, I didn't really find meself enthralled with the story itself.  I am not sure why.  The book was well-written but I didn't get the sense of magic that I received from his other works even when they made me noggin ache.  I liked the main character Jebi but think I wo
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Thank you to Rebellion, Solaris and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway. 

Yoon Ha Lee is one of those authors that I have been meaning to read their trilogy of but it just hasn't happened. So when I got the chance to read this book by them I had to give it a shot. I think what happened here was an 'Its not you but me' thing. 

Phoenix Extravagant is an interesting kind of story about a country that has been colonized by one of it
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
The cover illustration shows the pacifistic roboter dragon which is animated by magical ingredients, one of them the rare pigment
Phoenix Extravagant for destructive power, as befits an engine of war. Blood Circle, for loyalty to the Empire

Main protagonist artist Jebi additionally applied an extremely common pigment "Talkative Cicada" which let the dragon talk. The dragon is in the control of the Ministry of Armor, and broke and jobless Jebi is hired to fix the dragon. The role of the supervisor
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
“You idiot,” Vei explained, “we’re not supposed to take turns collecting injuries.”

On my blog.

Rep: East Asian inspired characters and setting, nonbinary mc, lesbian and bi side characters, side polyamory

Galley provided by publisher

I want to open this review up by telling you what not to expect from this book. Because I know from the experience of not really getting Yoon Ha Lee’s writing style in Ninefox Gambit, how people might not like this one, his first fantasy novel. (And because I know
Barb in Maryland
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f-goodies
Very clever, with an interesting magic system.
I liked the author's fantasy world: an alternate universe, centered in a version of late 19th century Korea/Japan/China, all vividly presented.
It takes a while for our hero to find their right path. Watching Jebi become aware of what is actually happening is very satisfying. Arazi, our automaton dragon, is absolutely delightful. But my favorite character is Vei, female duelist (think katana, not pistols).

There is lots of action, political intrigue,
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fantasy
A lot to like here. The way politics is handled is layered, and though Hwaguk is the most sympathetic there's no simplistic good and evil here. The magic is interesting without getting too lost in its own details, and I liked the mechanic of destroying art to make magic pigment. Was hoping we'd see a bit more exploration of agency in the automata beyond Arazi though, especially since Jebi wonders about it on a few occasions.

But ugh. Jebi. How can someone so competent also be so utterly lacking
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series, for its originality and mindfuckery. In comparison, Phoenix Extravagant is almost conventional, despite the ‘they’ pronouns and an unusual source of magic. It is a nice Korea/Japan-inspired fantasy and I loved the dragon (the dragon pushes it up to 4 stars), but it doesn’t have the complexity and emotional impact of his best work.
Awesome story about a nonbinary artist thrown into political machinations featuring art, automaton dragons and revolution in an East-Asian historical fantasy-ish setting.

Content warnings include: occupation and colonialisation, oppression and discrimination, destruction of art, blackmail, more or less obvious hostage situations, earthquake, violence and death, battle, imprisonment, torture, casual fatphobia, non-explicit sex on-page. Mentions of: death of parents, death of spouse.

This is one o
belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)
check out my thoughts and aesthetics inspired by the book on my blog~

In Phoenix Extravagant, the people in the Ministry of Armor combines glyphs and pigments to activate automatons. These mechanical beings act as soldiers alongside humans. Based on the glyphs drawn on the masks, these machinations are mostly subservient to the creators, the Razanei government. Devoid of emotions and choice, these machines are just animated machines until Arazi.

Immediately, I was intrigued by the mechanical drago
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Before we get into the review itself, can we talk about how great it is to see a non-binary protagonist! Not just a non-binary protagonist, but one whose gender identity isn't the main focus of their struggles or of the plot - Jebi is simply who they are, and they're great! (Not that books with gender identity as a main focus aren't important, it's just also nice to have ones like these.)

Let's start with the characters - I loved Jebi from the outset, with their struggling artist persona and thei
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Just look at his cover - magnificent, isn’t? Dragons are cool, but automatic dragons are something else. 

Phoenix Extravagant, set in a fantasy version of Korea during the Japanese occupation, revolves around politics, war, and rebellion. Instead of showing the conflict through the eyes of devious politicians or fighters, it follows Gyen Jebi, a non-binary painter destined (or rather maneuvered) to shift the scales of the conflict. A delightful change from the smash and bang seen often in oc
O.O that ending

Anyone who's read my blog will know that I'm a huge fan of Yoon Ha Lee's work. From the Machineries of the Empire trilogy to his short story collections, I've read and loved them all. As such, when I saw word that a new book was being written, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Ironically, I was telling myself I wouldn't request any more titles until I cleared my backlog, but I just couldn't resist. And I was certainly not let down. A huge thanks to Rebellion/
Bogi Takács
Review coming soon (IY"H)
Source of the book: Print ARC from the publisher
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
CWs: Familial disownment, depictions of colonization, incurred notions of racial supremacy, instances of beating, descriptions of injury and violence

Yoon Ha Lee has an incredible, beautiful mind, and I always feel lucky for any span of time that I get to live inside it. Phoenix Extravagant is a unique and ambitious story about non-binary artist and life-long pacifist, Gyen Jebi, wanting to be paid for their art when they're unceremoniously drafted into the Razanei's military to paint the gly
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a compelling blend of technology and magic, filled with art, rebellion, lust, love, plot twists, and complex characters. I highly recommend it if you like non-binary protagonists, dragons, getting paid for your art, and the allure of a duel.
Bertie (LuminosityLibrary)
Review to come! This was great! I loved the non-binary MC, dragon automation, sword-wielding girlfriend and anti-imperialism! Also, the magic based around art was really interesting! It was a bit slow at parts, and I didn't like Jebi as much as I'd hoped but I really enjoyed it! Definitely need to read more of Yoon Ha Lee's stuff! ...more
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Yoon Ha Lee is an American science fiction writer born on January 26, 1979 in Houston, Texas. His first published story, “The Hundredth Question,” appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1999; since then, over two dozen further stories have appeared. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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