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2015 Book Club Discussions > May 2015: The Grace of Kings - Final Discussion (with Spoilers!)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (tenaciousreader) | 301 comments This is where you can talk about the complete book, spoilers and all!

message 2: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments My overall impressions of the book were mixed - beautiful prose, wonderful characters, an engaging world. However a bit too heavy of a reliance on proverb-based storytelling, large periods of infodump that could get a bit dry, and a disjointed way of dropping history at times.

Overall, I loved the book at times, was not all that thrilled in others, but overall thought it was a great book that just needed a bit of tweaks. That said, it's Ken's style, and he's starting to get pretty popular, which is a great thing. If anyone hasn't read all his short stories, they should do so immediately, and then give Grace of Kings a try.

message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (tenaciousreader) | 301 comments I think if the style of this became the next big thing, it would start to bother me. I like it because it is so different. The narrative definitely distances the reader from characters to a degree, but it also is what gave that sort of "legendary" feel to the story as things just seemed larger than life.

It was hard to keep track of the characters, and when I saw (counted) there were 38 in the list of "Major Characters" I could see why! But I got used to it and decided any of my moments of confusion ultimately didn't seem to matter in the end

I really enjoyed the contrast between these Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu and how those differences impact their relationship with each other as well as with the people. Kuni is everything unexpected, love his philosophy of always choosing the "most interesting" thing. And Mata is a much more expected, almost stereotypical leader (he was raised for it) but was completely lacking people skills and and sense of connection or ability to relate. When they were together, they managed to balance each other out quite well.

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul (paul_sff) This book just didn't work for me. I felt like it was the documentary of a story that someone else told. The narrative style just wasn't something I enjoyed.

message 5: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments I'm completely on board with Lisa on all your points - I found the style a bit difficult at times, and keeping up with characters difficult, but there was a certain novelty to it. I loved the characters, I just didn't necessarily love the ways they were always presented. I came to appreciate the history infodumps for their content, but I didn't like that format.

I know it will work really well for some people, and it won't work well for others. Paul, you're obviously not wrong at all, I struggled at times, and was in love with it at others. I love Liu's grace with words, his elegance, competence, and mastery. I think I can deal with it being a bit "weird" to digest in return for finally getting something different and unique from this genre.

message 6: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments I feel a catch 22 here - I often crave something "different" from the fantasy genre, then bitch and moan when I actually get something truly different. I find myself asking why all fantasy seems to lean towards medieval Europe settings (even though I LOVE that setting), and then turn around and complain about the quirks of a Middle Eastern or Asian setting, or moan that the 'different' aspect feels gimmicky.

Ken Liu has given us something that I feel is fairly unique - in tone, in setting, in presentation. I feel almost bad complaining about that, as it's what I keep asking for. His writing is exceptional, even if the presentation isn't necessarily the easiest.

message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (tenaciousreader) | 301 comments The thing about "different" is it leaves the door wide open to all sorts of things. Just because you don't like a particular style/setting that is different does not mean that you don't like it BECAUSE it is different, it could just mean you don't like that particular type of different.

message 8: by Mark (new)

Mark | 41 comments I found it well written and very enjoyable, with great character interaction.

message 9: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments We're a little slow at the end of book discussion - are people not participating in the readalong this month? Is the book long and dense and people are moving through it a bit more slowly?

Those who did finish it - chime in with your thoughts or discussion pieces!

message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael Toth | 30 comments Ok Ok I'll talk lol....

I can see where people would have a problem reading this book. It's extremely story-driven, to the point where some characters are simply glossed over. However, for me the story was so good that it overwhelmed that. Hopefully we can get a bit more fleshing out on the next book because the immediate conflict seems to have come to a resolution. Either way, I'm a fan for sure.

message 11: by Skull21 (new)

Skull21 I read this one last month when it first came out and I liked it a lot, a lot more then most people seem to be. Really liked the classic themes of hubris and inevitability; how rulers keep making the same mistakes of brutality and corruptions, almost like the greek concept of fate. Rebelling over and over, but just changing the actors and not the game.

message 12: by Justin (new)

Justin | 0 comments I don't have much to add, other than I picked the book up from the library (which took a week or so) after complaining it's too expensive here. I enjoyed it for the most part but I didn't exactly love it. I'm terrible at writing my thoughts about books.

message 13: by Pello (new)

Pello Zúñiga Pérez | 1 comments I just finished the book. I did enjoyed the first chapters, but the more I read, the more outraged I was.... The whole book, from start to finish is a mere copy of the Liu Bang & Xiang Yu rivalry during the fall of Qin Dynasty and the eventual rise of Han Dynasty. I understand and support inspiration from history, but Ken Liu has taken things a bit too far and he is just taking advantage of people not knowing about Chinese history. Just read the biographies of Liu Bang and Xiang Yu in Wikipedia and you will know what I’m talking about... He didn’t changed a single bit.... I felt cheated.

message 14: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments Pello wrote: "I just finished the book. I did enjoyed the first chapters, but the more I read, the more outraged I was.... The whole book, from start to finish is a mere copy of the Liu Bang & Xiang Yu rivalry d..."

At the same time, is that *really* a crime? This happens frequently - a retelling of history, even if it's fairly faithful to actual events, is still fiction in it's own right. There's a lot in the books (flying things?) that definitely did not exist in the real telling.

I point to things like The Lions of al-Rassan for an example - largely a retelling of historic events, with some fiction mixed in.

message 15: by C2 (new)

C2 | 5 comments I did like this book but it really bothered me in the beginning that he lifted stories straight from chinese history/wuxia lore and didn't put a single spin on it. I only read Kingdom (which is based on the same period of history Ken's book drew on) and I was able to get the feeling he was only reciting what happened pretty much verbatium. (Both specifically stories from Mata's ancestors) It got a lot better as the book went on as the focus was more on the characters and their actions (which also may have been typical historical battles as well but the characters were more fleshed out by then).

Jia went from being a great female character to a crappy one. I expect the next book is going to delve into petty Queen harem fight over the throne, evil concubine archtypes. Urgh.

All the other characters were interesting, except so many people had to die. also was Rin the person Garu almost got killed with the beginning? (the one that got kicked out of school with him and then ended writing letters for soldiers? How did he become the underworld connection?

Also not really interesting the pretend corruption at the end.

The cadence is something really similar to wuxia though, even if I've never read novels and only watched tv shows.

message 16: by C2 (new)

C2 | 5 comments Joel wrote: "Pello wrote: "I just finished the book. I did enjoyed the first chapters, but the more I read, the more outraged I was.... The whole book, from start to finish is a mere copy of the Liu Bang & Xian..."

I think the problem was he didn't put any spin on it. Whatsoever. When a 3 kingdoms story is so famous you would think you would try to position it differently or tie in the battle without it being like a dry history retelling.

and i didn't realize these posts were months old, sorry.

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