Posted in Literature

Review: The Hand of the Sun King

The Hand of the Sun King (Pact and Pattern, #1)The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An Asian-inspired fantasy steeped in ancestry, obligation and magics. Wen Alder is a child of a Sien father and a Nayeni mother; the Sienese are the conquerors of Nayen (& many other lands) and Alder is torn between the two early in his life. His (maternal) Grandmother names him in the Nayeni tradition – Foolish Cur – and tries to teach him of their ways in secret alongside his training at his Father’s behest towards taking the Imperial Examinations at 17.

Alder yearns for magic and after a foolish attempt to wield it before understanding it his Grandmother departs to join the Nayeni rebellion in the north, leaving Alder only one path to know magic: to become a Hand of the Emperor. In the first series of examinations to take place in Nayen, Alder succeeds and begins his apprenticeship as a Hand, however, his introduction to imperial magic is not what he had hoped and his desperate desire to find that pure and powerful magic he touched as a child is rekindled.

This is a coming-of-age story that encompasses a number of years in the life of Alder, from 5 to 23, and what he learns in his questing journey for magic that has fascinated him as long as he can remember. We follow him through years of study, his examinations, apprenticeship and beyond as he tries to learn as much as can be found on magic. What he finds is often a disappointment to him and his pursuit of this knowledge leads him into some tragic circumstances, changing him forever.

The prose it not thick and is quite easy to read. The book is about the perfect length to introduce you thoroughly to Alder and this world as he learns more about it. The first-person POV I think complements this slow revealing of knowledge very well. One positive compared to other coming-of-age, 1st person POV fantasy novels (e.g. Farseer) is that there is no achingly slow downtime where little appears to happen. The Hand of the Sun-King ensure there is no dull, drawn out expositions or lengthy travel sequences to force yourself through. The only downside I felt was that there’s a lot to fit in and as such some events had more of a cursory going-over.

Nevertheless, I think this is an excellent debut and would love to continue the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the Orion Publishing Group for access to an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for review.

Posted in Literature

Rai’s Reading Challenge 2021

I’ve put together 20 prompts for my reading next year. I think there’s a good mix below and I’m sure there’ll come a point where it’ll help me choose what to read next! I’ve kept them fairly simple as who knows what surprises await us next year, given how bizarre my reading went in 2020.

  1. Take part in #MountTBR2021 and aim for Pike’s Peak (12 books I already own) – see more info here:
  2. A translated book
  3. A non-fiction (not for uni) book
  4. Speculative fiction either by an LGBTQ+ author or with queer (main) characters
  5. A space opera
  6. An epic fantasy
  7. A horror novel
  8. A non-police-procedural mystery/thriller
  9. A contemporary/literary fiction
  10. The first in a new series
  11. A sequel
  12. Published in the 20th Century
  13. A green book
  14. An award winner
  15. A debut novel
  16. Set in or inspired by a country you’ve never visited
  17. Something that’s been turned into or inspired a TV show or film
  18. A book recommended to you (by an algorithm or a person)
  19. A book containing poetry
  20. Take part in a read-along or buddy-read
  21. BONUS CHALLENGE: Read all the books you received for Christmas 2020 by Christmas 2021

If you’d like to join in with these prompts, please consider using the tag #RaiReadsChallenge2021 so I can see you!