The long awaited sequel to The Wall of Storms has arrived after five long years of waiting. The crazy part is that the concluding volume was so massive that Ken Liu had to split the book in half. The Veiled Throne come in at just over one thousand pages and you are definetly getting the bang for your buck. The multiple story lines we follow are all engaging and exciting but confused me a bit with the jumping of the time jumps. This will be a spoiler free review but I will be touching upon events from the previous volumes.
Emperor Kuni has died and it is up to his children to follow on ruling the Dandelion Throne in his absence with the invading forces of the Lyuku causing chaos. A peace accord of ten years has been agreed upon between Empress Jia and the Pekyu Vadyu, brokered by Prince Timu who has joined the Lyuku in order to save his people from bloodshed. The problem is the Lyuku warriors are itching for battles and war with the captured Dara territories as their prey. Gin Mazoti has been branded a traitor for her actions in the previous book leading to the death of Kuni. Thera has traveled beyond The Wall of Storms in order to attack the Lyuku on their homeland before the next attack of Lyuku ships can reach the shores of Dara. Finally Empress Jia is playing a long game with the political figures of Dara. Taking on lovers just to get the rumors spreading but having a secret plan of her own. She holds the regency of the throne and will not allow Phyro to take control until he comes of age. War may be unavoidable but every rock must be unturned.
Of all the story lines we get to follow in The Veiled Throne, the journey of Princess Thera was by far my favorite. Now in the foreign land of Ukyu and Gonde, we get to see so much more of the Lyuku traditions, training, and land they live in. We also see how Thera needs to adapt her Dara knowledge to that of the people inhabiting this land. Just because some things work for one culture doesn’t mean another will use it. Thera has to do a constant balancing act and I appreciated her character so much more. Timu’s story line was at times heartbreaking to read. He is but a shadow of his former self and is nothing more than a figurehead of the Dara that lives among the Lyuku. The assimilation strategy hasn’t worked and he is slowly seeing the anger and rage take over the Lyuku people. Timu made his choice out of love and fear for his country but unless he can become the leader he once was, all will be lost.
Now comes the part of the story where I feel most readers will have issues. There are several time jumps in this novel and it wasn’t always clear to me when listening to the audio book. As I mentioned earlier, there is a ten year peace between Dara and the Lyuku and the time jumps either reference that or the years since There left Dara. In part two of the book, we encounter Thera when she firsts arives in Ukyu and Gonde and we follow her struggles. In part 3, we fast forward to six years since Thera has left Dara and she is assimilated into her new family. She has two children and teaching them the customs of Dara is her number one priority. Thera needs to figure out a plan to stop the Lyuku ships before the Wall of Storms opens up again. Now back on Dara, the story starts eight years since There left Dara. So there is a constant time gap which is not exactly the easiest thing to decifer. I felt a more linear approach would be better but I will leave my full judgement until the final volume is released.
It is said that The Veiled Throne and the final volume Speaking Bones should be read as one volume and I agree. This very much reads as an unfinished story and I realize this is done on purpose. Fans of the series will enjoy this volume with the tensions at their all time high. It is sure to be a wild ending.