ARC Mini Review – The Garden of Empire

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Garden of Empire by J.T. Greathouse, which will be published on August 4. I’ve been (not so) patiently waiting for this sequel since I finished the first book, The Hand of the Sun King, a year ago. Was it worth the wait?! Read on to find out!


Foolish Cur, once named Wen Alder, finds that his allies in the rebellion might cross any line if it means freedom from the Empire. But he can’t overcome a foe as strong as Emperor Tenet alone.


Koro Ha, Foolish Cur’s former tutor, discovers the Empire is not so forgiving of those who raise a traitor. And their suspicion may cost him and his people more than he can imagine.


As war against the Empire rages, Foolish Cur knows there is a greater threat. The emperor plans his own coup against the gods, and they will wreak destruction if he tries. To stop him, Foolish Cur might have to risk everything – and resort to ancient magics that could tear the world apart.

The sequel to the spectacular The Hand of the Sun King, filled to the brim with magic and the cruel consequences of war. This is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Shelley Parker-Chan.

***Thank you to JAB Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley! My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a really great sequel that expanded the world and deepened the lore set up in the first book. While Wen Alder was the focus and only POV in The Hand of the Sun King, this book includes three different POVs and a fourth story thread in the interludes. Each of the characters struggled with the age old question of whether the end result justifies potentially questionable means to get there. All of them approached the question in a different way, and it was fascinating to read the various ways they thought through their decisions and the resulting consequences. The impacts of colonization and the price of rebellion were once again explored throughout this narrative, and the expanded POVs really helped to flesh out that discussion in exciting new ways. The magic system of this world was explored in a great deal of depth in this installment, and it lead to some interesting revelations about the gods and the plans of the emperor. The ending definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, and it revealed that a much bigger game is being played than almost anyone anticipated, which has me excited for the next book. I also now really want to get some chapters, or a prequel, from the emperor’s perspective because I think learning about his history and POV could be a fascinating exploration of how someone with good intentions goes horribly wrong. Although, that is also kind of what we got with this book. So, maybe it would be too repetitive? I don’t know, but I am now much more interested in the emperor than many of the other characters after the way this book ended. My only complaint would be that this book felt a bit bogged down compared to its predecessor. The first book spanned a great deal of time and places, but this one was laser focused on one army chasing another for pretty much the whole book, at least for two of the three POVs. It allowed time for a wide range of good character moments and growth, but it also felt a bit slow at times. I kept wanting the battle to happen because it seemed like it took forever to get there. Overall, though, this was a great addition to the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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