ARC Review: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

I received an A.R.C for this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This review is spoiler-free.

Status: Finished Reading (25 March 2019)

Rating: ★★★★★

Edition: Kindle ARC

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Image Source: Goodreads

Descendant of the Crane is exactly the kind of book that you inhale in one sitting, and then absolutely regret doing it because you never wanted the story to end. Where do I even begin to sing my praises for this fantastic piece of work?

This is easily one of the best fantasy novels I have read in quite some time – and why wouldn’t it be? The story is so well plotted, set in some of the richest world building I’ve seen, with absolutely complex characters that keep me on my toes from the first page to the last.

It is less a story and more a fast paced and confusing game of chess, one where you don’t really know who the winner is until it’s too late. I have a hard time keeping up with political plots unless they actively engage the reader. This book does such a good job of letting us become a part of all the dirty tricks and court ploys that turn the tides in the favour of the multiple characters.

And speaking of the characters, what a fantastic cast of them. I can’t think of one single character who felt unnecessary, token or flat. Each and every person was well fleshed out, with a realistic story – no matter how big or small – and each one played their roles till the very end. A good story told by good characters is a winning point for me, and Descendant of the Crane took the trophy home.

By the end of the story, while I was aware of whom I was rooting for, there was no clear-cut hatred for any “villain” or “hero”. There is nothing absolute about this series’ characters and their individual stories. It is simply a group of people struggling to make the most of their sad lives, and wading through all the muck that comes their way. What impressed me are the difficult decisions the characters inevitably have to take, and the role it plays in their character development. What made it even better is the moments in which these decisions are taken, leaving the reader shocked with every new chapter, right until the very end.

I think what ties it all neatly together is the gorgeous parcel it comes packaged in. The world-building is so intricate and intense, rich with real world inspirations yet unique in its own ways. If I could put an image to a tapestry, it would be the universe this book is set in. I am hard pressed to find anything I did not like about it.

All in all, I don’t think I need to even say it: you absolutely have to give this book a shot when it comes out on April 9th. Although plot-heavy and full of conniving games, this is a fantasy story that talks about ordinary people in an extraordinary setting. There are morally grey characters who do the best they can with what they’re given. There is history and oppression, war and bloodshed, painful truths coupled with lies and deception. There is honour and promises, and love and loss. Descendant of the Crane shoots itself onto the Number One spot on Anticipated 2019 Releases with a power-packed punch – one you cannot miss.

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