The war for the throne of Dara has ended and the reign of the emperor is strong and true. The real war however is just beyond the storm wall and it will bring the kingdoms of Dara to its knees. Ken Liu’s sequel to The Grace of Kings has lived up to hype and has placed the bar for the final two volumes into the upper stratosphere. He dives more into the deep history of Dara with legends, ancient practices, war strategies, and of course the interventions of the gods. I can easily put the Dandelion Dynasty in my top 10 favorite current fantasy series and The Wall of Storms cements its place in that top echelon for years to come. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be touching on certain events that happened in the Grace of Kings.
Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Along side his wife Jia, they are raising their children to take on the responsibilities of governing an empire. Prince Timu is Kuni’s first born son and must learn quickly the way of the sword, military strategy, and politics. His story takes an unexpected left turn about halfway through the the novel and you will not be able to turn away. Princess Thera is very smart and savvy student and person. She becomes key in the upcoming war and her story line was my absolute favorite part of this sequel. We also follow Gin Mazoti, marshal of Dara and the brightest military mind of her generation. She will need all her cunning and wisdom for what is to come.
Life seems simple to Kuni and the people of Dara until they get unexpected visitors from beyond the storm wall. People for the Lyucu empire have built massive ships for the perilous journey to Dara for peace and trade, or so it would seem. We are introduced to this foreign culture through the eyes of a Dara native and how the plot comes full circle I found to be brilliant and amazing to behold. The Wall of Storms gets even more into the weeds of philosophy, religion, foreign cultures, the costs of war. The ever present influence Ken Liu takes from ancient China is even more present in this sequel and the concluding two volumes can’t come soon enough!
It should be noted that this series will not be top notch for every fantasy reader. We have a slow-burn of a read with plenty of build up to the eventually confrontation. We also have plenty of political maneuvering with Jia and her sister wives clamoring for Kuni’s attention and it goes place you will not see coming. There are mythical creatures made abundant in this volume and the conclusion had me itching to get my hands on the third volume ASAP.
If you are still on the fence about starting this epic series, let me be your guiding star. It is worth every second you will spend in this world and so much more upon rereads. Ken Liu has built an epic world and series for the ages and no one should miss out on what is to come. When book 3, The Veil Throne comes out, you will find me warm and cousy by my fireplace with Dara on my mind!