Apparently I can’t review without the pressure of a blog tour this week… But hey, two blog tours make for content too. And there might be a special surprise in the works for tomorrow! But anyway. The Hand of the Sun King. Pretty straight-forward epic fantasy, fun, a hint of darkness. I’d say it’s pretty good. My colleague and friend James over at Grimdark Magazine reviewed this far earlier too and agreed – he’s even quoted on the back cover! Read his review here.
Massive thanks to Will O’Mullane at Gollancz for having me on the tour and sending me a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 05/08/2021
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.
All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.
I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path… a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.
But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves… (from Gollancz)
OPINIONS: I feel like The Hand of the Sun King is the kind of book that will be universally appealing to fantasy readers. This isn’t to say that it’s bland or anything, but if it were a food, I’d compare it to french fries – addictive, more-ish and enjoyed by pretty much everyone. It’s not something that I think will stand out for me in the long run, but it’s definitely something that I enjoyed and that I will recommend to friends, especially friends that are maybe newer to the genre or have a background of reading big name books rather than more diversely.
The story is set in an Asian-ish world – and I use the term in a loose setting. If I had to try and localise it more, I’d say it’s probably inspired by some amalgamation of East Asia and then fictionalised. But The setting is more window-dressing than anything else. Most of all, The Hand of the Sun King is a fun story about the ups and downs of politics, about the machinations behind a throne and what happens to those trying to keep an emperor in power.
Wen Alder, or Foolish Cur, is an interesting character, torn between the two sides of his legacy. The story is told from his perspective, as something of an autobiography. While his father’s side gives him a path to the emperor, to traditional power, his mother’s side of the family is connected to the resistance, leading to a deep-seated schiism within the man. And within all of this, is a desire for magic. A great adventure, wrapped up in manipulation. I look forward to following his story in the upcoming installments of the series.