Review: The Art of Destiny by Wesley Chu

Category:

Fantasy

Rating:

Introduction:

REVIEW WRITTEN AND DRAFT SAVED BY: DEE ROBERTS (Never knew it would hurt this much to type those words :(((  )

POSTED BY: N DECKLAND

Once there was a prophecy that a chosen one would rise to defeat the Eternal Khan, an immortal god-king.

But the prophecy was wrong.

Now Jian, the former chosen hero, is just an ordinary young man trying to find his own way. But he may yet have an extraordinary destiny, because he joins forces with Taishi, his grumpy grandmaster, who instructs him in the ways of her family’s powerful war art. Jian still has a long way to go before he can become her heir, so she recruits a band of elderly grandmasters who come out of retirement to whip him into shape and help with this one last job.

And there are others who are also seeking their own destiny, like Qisami, an assassin on a secret mission to protect a powerful noblewoman from her enemies. But as Qisami goes undercover to complete her mission, she takes on a new identity that gives her something she never had before: friendship, found family, and new purpose.

Sali also thought her fate was laid before her. She was supposed to be looking for the next Eternal Khan and now finds her clan exiled from everything she’s ever known. As she leads the survivors in search of a new home, Sali discovers that she’s something she never thought she could be: a leader and a revolutionary.

Because sometimes destiny is grander than any prophecy can foresee. And the greatest destiny of all is the one you choose for yourself.

Review:

Undoubtedly, The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu, the first installment of The War Arts Saga trilogy, was one of my favorite books in 2023 and I had extremely high expectations going into The Art of Destiny. So if I were to describe The Art of Destiny in one sentence it would be, “This is one of those books you cancel your plans for.” Because this lived up to all my expectations and more.

The narrative resumes some time after the events of the first book, finding Taishi and Jian seeking refuge in the secluded and diminutive hamlet known as Cloud Pillars, as they endeavor to elude the substantial bounties offered for their capture. Qisami, who once exuded an air of haughty arrogance as a highly esteemed Shadowkill at the diamond tier, now finds herself steeped in disgrace and consumed by frustration over her previous mission failure, consequently struggling to secure employment within the ranks of the Shadowkills. Meanwhile, Sali, the indomitable Kautian Viperstrike and bearer of the Will of The Khan, finds solace within the Shetty mountain range alongside her liberated clan, grappling with the delicate balance between her obligation to the Khan and her duty to facilitate the reconstruction of Nezra.

After reading The Art of Prophecy a few weeks back it was abundantly clear to me that Wesley Chu was a phenomenal writer. Not only does he adeptly craft intricate and engaging narratives, but his expertise in world building and character creation and development truly shines. Give him a simple rubber duck and I am certain he will come up with the most absorbing and mind blowing storyline for it. In The Art of Destiny, this prowess is once again demonstrated as we are introduced to a multitude of fresh and intriguing settings, and encounter a host of remarkable new characters. Being an outsider with limited exposure to East Asian culture, I was profoundly moved by Wesley Chu’s ability to convey the essence of the environments, lore, and traditions within his narrative. His skillful portrayal resonated deeply with me, serving as a testament to his thorough understanding and appreciation of the subject matter. Through his writing, Wesley managed to bridge the cultural gap, offering a window into a rich and vibrant world that I, as an outsider, could readily embrace and appreciate. The immersive experience he crafted through his attention to detail and genuine portrayal spoke volumes, leaving a lasting impression on my perception and understanding of East Asian culture.

The whole story is a wild ride, bouncing back and forth between hilarious and gut-wrenching moments. There were so many moments I actually laughed out loud while reading this book. Also, Wesley Chu knows how to bring in twists and turns out of nowhere and there was this one scene at the end of the book that I almost cried because if you read the first book you know, this is going to be inevitable.

I absolutely relished the camaraderie that blossomed among Taishi and her companions in this particular installment. It provided a remarkable opportunity to delve beyond Taishi’s persona as a revered War Artist and genuinely understand her character on a more profound level. The glimpses into her past that were offered throughout the story proved to be invaluable in this regard. What truly struck me in The Art of Destiny was the palpable sense of maternal affection Taishi exhibited towards Jian, despite her outwardly tough demeanor and brusque mannerisms. It added a layer of depth and tenderness to her character, allowing readers to truly feel the depth of her love and concern for Jian’s well-being.

Although Jian was my favorite character in the first book, I must admit that Qisami truly captured the spotlight in The Art of Destiny. Wesley’s masterful crafting of her story arc was nothing short of brilliant, as it took her on a transformative journey that defied expectations. The experiences she underwent in this installment were drastically different from her previous disposition, and it was nothing short of ingenious how Wesley managed to unveil a more humane and compassionate side to her character. Witnessing such remarkable character growth for Qisami throughout the book undeniably made her a highly likable and relatable character, deepening my connection and investment in her personal journey.

Sali’s journey in The Art of Destiny resonated deeply with me. It was evident that she was grappling with a tremendous weight on her shoulders, fighting a battle that seemed overwhelming for a single individual. Balancing the demands of family, her role as a Viperstrike, and the arduous task of rebuilding her clan, all while serving her country as the Will of the Khan, posed an immense challenge. Despite her initial self-perception as a leader, it was clear from the beginning of the book that she was still naive and lacked the necessary experience. However, as the story unfolded, I had the privilege of witnessing her remarkable transformation into the very leader she aspired to become.

While Jian’s journey in the story may have been slightly overshadowed by the other three compelling perspectives, it still had its merits. One aspect I particularly adored was witnessing his gradual transformation into a humble human being, capable of finding joy in the simple pleasures of life. It was heartwarming to see him embrace the experiences of an average teenager within the unique backdrop of the story’s world. After enduring a long period of isolation, it was a delight to witness him relishing the company of friends and finally savoring the sense of belonging that had long eluded him. I also loved the budding romance between him and Sonaya.

The state politics depicted in The Art of Destiny truly captivated me. As a self proclaimed sucker for court politics, I was enthralled by seamlessly interwoven political dynamics rife with betrayals, displays of power, and conflicts of war. The narrative effortlessly transported me into a world where politics played a central role, adding layers of intrigue and tension to the story. And let’s not overlook the breathtaking combat scenes. It is impossible to deny Wesley’s talent for bringing these sequences to life with his vivid descriptions of diverse fighting styles. His ability to infuse these action-packed scenes with moments of humor undoubtedly enhanced the overall experience, creating a perfect blend of intensity and levity within these scenes.

Concluding my review of The Art of Destiny, I have to say I absolutely loved this book. There wasn’t a single dull moment throughout the story and I sometimes found myself at work thinking how fast I can get home so I can get to read the rest of the story. That’s how good The Art of Destiny was. I can absolutely gush more about the amazing supporting characters as well but this review is already too long. 🙂

I extend my sincere gratitude to NetGalley, Del Rey Books, and, of course, Wesley Chu for granting me the opportunity to read this advance copy of The Art of Destiny.

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