It has been foretold: A child will rise to defeat the Eternal Khan, a cruel immortal god-king, and save the kingdom.
The hero: Jian, who has been raised since birth in luxury and splendor, celebrated before he has won a single battle.
But the prophecy was wrong.
Because when Taishi, the greatest war artist of her generation, arrives to evaluate the prophesied hero, she finds a spoiled brat unprepared to face his destiny.
But the only force more powerful than fate is Taishi herself. Possessed of an iron will, a sharp tongue—and an unexpectedly soft heart—Taishi will find a way to forge Jian into the weapon and leader he needs to be in order to fulfill his legend.
What follows is a journey more wondrous than any prophecy can foresee: a story of master and student, assassin and revolutionary, of fallen gods and broken prophecies, and of a war between kingdoms, and love and friendship between deadly rivals.
I was invited to read this book and immediately downloaded it. Besides the exquisite cover design, I always enjoy a Chosen One/Prophecy story.
Jian doesn’t check many boxes on the typical “chosen one” list. He’s spoiled, brash, entitled, and not the best fighter – which is a bad thing since he’s prophesied as the guy to defeat the Eternal Khan. When esteemed war artist Taishi is sent to evaluate his training progress, she’s shocked at his lack of preparedness. Being a take charge kind of woman, she fires all of Jian’s current teachers and takes on his training herself. She’s got her work cut out for her and isn’t a person who suffers fools gladly. Taishi is determined to break Jian down to a base level where he’s willing to learn, while Jian the brat is coming up with creative ways to kill her. Their relationship is one of my favorite parts of this novel.
The three main POVs are Jian, Taishi, and Salminde (viperstrike and Will of the Khan). Salminde goes against tradition and destiny in order to find her sister and do what’s best for her people. I didn’t immediately care for her, but she grew on me. There are also several supporting characters who are just as interesting. Even though they don’t get as much page time, they all come with their own back stories, and I felt as if I knew them just as well.
The amount of humor in this story caught me off guard and isn’t something I’d expected. Taishi’s clever quips and exchanges with Jian and her opponents and assassin Qisami’s unconventional attempts at courting had me laughing out loud.
Exquisite fight scenes, complex and detailed world-building, and phenomenal character development make this a must read for epic fantasy fans. It’s a little lengthy at over 500 pages, but you’ll be so engrossed in the story you’ll barely notice.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.