ARC Mini Review – The Hand of the Sun King

Author: J.T. Greathouse

Publication Date: August 5, 2021

Print Length: 367 pages

Read Date(s): August 1, 2021 – August 3, 2021

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Goodreads Synopsis

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 . . .

My Mini Review

***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest assessment and reactions to the book.***

I loved reading this book. The prose was beautiful, and this story has probably become my favorite one to use first-person POV. The pacing was steady throughout, and the world-building was integrated organically into the story-telling over the course of the novel. The main character, Wen Alder, was a complex, interesting character even though he was not always likeable. He definitely lived up to his other moniker, Foolish Cur, because he made some very foolish choices throughout the book. However, I still found him to be endearing and enjoyed seeing him grow as the story progressed. His journey was filled with hardship, friendship, loss, and love and served as an excellent coming-of-age story showcasing the shift from conventional to postconventional moral reasoning that can occur as one enters adulthood. Alder’s character also acted as an avatar to explore the impacts of colonialism, racism, and the limits society places on individuals. In particular, he was an excellent example of the concept of proxy privilege and how intersectional identities can bring both varying degrees of privilege and oppression. The plot and world were fascinating, and I loved the Eastern-inspired setting and the magic system based on calligraphy. A couple of the plot points felt a bit forced, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story or the important themes it explored. I wish the next book was already available, and I recommend anyone who enjoys fantasy or coming-of-age stories to give this story a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Therefore, I rate the book 5 out of 5 stars.

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