Cover Image: The Garden of Empire

The Garden of Empire

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Member Reviews

The Hand of the Sun King was the first-person autobiographical recounting of Wen Alder’s formative years. As The Garden of Empire mentions quite early on, there is still much of Wen Alder’s story to tell, yet this is now becoming the story of an empire. This is a neat way of explaining that throughout this entry, we follow Alder’s first-person perspective again, and we also follow another handful of point-of-view perspective characters, in the third person. Alder’s former tutor Kora Ha is one of the perspectives presented, as is Hand Pinion, brother to Alder’s one-time best friend. These are both characters that readers will be familiar with from the first book, and to bolster this tale of the empire is a new character who has an untamed magic and potential that is making the Gods pay attention, in a similar fashion to the way they are acknowledging Alder’s presence and importance. The switch between first and third-person perspectives works smoothly and isn’t jarring at all. It’s seamless to the extent I only really noticed it when I was 75% through the novel.

Cover for The Garden of Empire by J.T. GreathouseThe Hand of the Sun King was presented as Alder having to choose between two sets of cultures, magics, and loyalties. Playing in the back of his mind was his competitive drive and ambition to gain the full potential of unrestricted magic that he had glimpsed so briefly and dangerously in his youth. In The Garden of Empire Wen Alder (or Foolish Cur as he’s known to one contingent) has picked and/or been forced to choose a side. He still wishes to master and understand magic’s full potential and he wants to draw his own route through the world whilst keeping those he cares about safe.

I commented within my The Hand of the Sun King review that the magic system seemed tidy and not over-complicated. It’s more of the same here, however, the cannons of magic, the different styles of power, and the way that they can be wielded are all presented as more in-depth and expanded upon. It’s at a point now that with Greathouse’s set foundations, further explanations, and Alder’s magical trials and exploits, as a reader, we understand the magic as precisely as Alder does. This is with all its potential and possibilities, yet it isn’t without its dangers and unpredictability.

I really enjoyed following Alder as a protagonist again which I guess makes me a glutton for punishment as lots of unfortunate things still seem to happen to him and those he cares about. This is taking into consideration that he’s grown and matured, and all things considered, seems to be making better choices and giving pretty good advice. Alder has traits and “luck” that are reminiscent of FitzChivalry Farseer from The Realm of the Elderlings, one of my favourite fantasy protagonists.

Alder’s point of view page time was my favourite to follow but Koro Ha and Pinion’s chapters definitely grew on me the more I read them. With Koro Ha, we see the reverberations of him tutoring someone who, unbeknown to him, would become a rebel. Through his storyline, we witness new cultures and parts of the world that weren’t shown in the first entry. With Hand Pinion’s narrative, readers are presented with the internal happenings of the empire: the opposite side of the rebellion, maybe elements of imposter syndrome when he compares himself to his brother, and someone who wants revenge. There are also many side characters who shine when they are given the limelight. Many members of Greathouse’s ensemble are an absolute joy to read about, effortlessly complimenting the main players and showcasing excellent banter, wit, and dialogue. There are a few hidden motives, mysteries, and revelations throughout too.

I rated The Hand of the Sun King with a strong 9/10 rating. I’ll award The Garden of Empire with a 7.5/10 yet I think most who enjoyed the first will find a lot to savour here too. I personally thought that between the 35%-70% mark, some chapters dragged a bit and I wasn’t glued to the pages as I had been at other points in this series. Some of these slower moments were successful though in adding quality and depth to the world-building and Greathouse’s fantasy world feels a lot more complete and organic now.

Koro Ha’s tale and another point of view narrative don’t have as much of a solid and rewarding payoff as Alder and Pinion’s do. That being said, the loose ends with regards to those characters seem very intriguing and the last 20%, in general, is superb and on par with the finest moments I’ve read in SFF so far this year. The characters and the world at the end of The Garden of Empire are almost unrecognisable from what we’re welcomed to at the start and I’m all-in for the final novel in this series, which Greathouse is hopeful will be released in 2023. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Wen Alder/Foolish Cur and how his decisions will continue to affect the empire and the world.

I received a review copy of The Garden of Empire in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to J.T. Greathouse and Gollancz.
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The Garden of Empire is a great novel, it’s quite the novel indeed. It mixes first and third person very well, creating an overall arching story of perhaps an Empire that is going to fall. Specifically, the Siennese Empire is basically just a disguise for the Emperor to shield his true purpose of enmity with the Gods that we have here. Many characters from the previous novel come back and have some great entry points. Especially as we get to see more of Koro Ha, I feel that he really is the star of the novel.

The novel does have excellent descriptions, showcasing a lot of its Asian influence. I really like that a lot. It shows the rebellious powers that hate the Siennese and what they do to combat it. I think the novel did have some issues when it came to pacing as it tried sometimes in my opinion to showcase a lot of events, which isn’t bad and they are necessary to the novel. But some parts could have been trimmed down in my opinion. Nothing too note-worthy, but just felt like wanting to point out that. Then again, I disliked Hissing Cat A LOT!

That being said, I think Foolish Cur did take a step back during the novel, though it did kind of limit his character, I suppose that was a good decision. He’s not a thief/roguish character but more of a man trying to figure out his own legacy while having to deal with an uncle that dislikes him and many other characters that don’t trust him for the time being. The characters are the most vital point in this book, and J.T does a brilliant job of showcasing these characters. Honestly, it’s a great sequel, and I really recommend it!
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I was kindly given an ARC of this book to read.

The Garden of Empire is a thrilling sequel to Hand of the Sun King. The magic system is still one of the most unique I've read and I really enjoyed reading about all of the magic/abilities it produces.

The characters go on quite a journey and their arcs are really satisfying for a reader. They are very grey characters and I think that's quite a main theme throughout. How many good things does someone have to do to outweigh bad ones? Likewise, if a good action causes many bad things to happen is it really good? The characters are really likable - even the 'bad' ones.

I don't want to give too much away but the twists and ending in this book were fabulous and mainly unexpected. I can't wait for the next one!!
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Loved The Hand of the Sun King, this is even better and I have to recycle some of the adjective finding a way to make them stronger.
A gripping, riveting, highly entertaining, well plotted, and well told story. A page turner that kept me hooked.
A story which is epic and intimate ad the same time.
Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I absolutely loved this book! It's even better than the first one in my opinion. The character growth is fantastic. I loved following them as they learned new magic. And that ending! It almost made me wish I had waited until the next book was out to start the series. Almost.

I have already ordered the special edition from Goldsboro.  I can't wait!
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“This isn't a thing of the pattern, Cur,” Hissing Cat said, her voice sharp. “This is a thing of human will.” 

One of the main things I've liked about The Pact and Pattern series is how Jeremy Greathouse has stayed away from the trope of the MC never really knowing how to use his magic. 

There is a learning curve for Wen Alder in the first book The Hand Of The Sun King but by the time the second one starts Wen Alder/ Foolish Cur is already one of the strongest witches in the series.

And getting the three POVs with Foolish Cur, Koro-Ha and Pinion was a very interesting element that added a lot more depth to the story.

Wen Alder's story starts exactly where the first book ended. But instead of the ambitious character from the first book. He's become someone who is desperately trying to right his wrongs. 

In Pinion's POV we get to see how brutal the empire truly is.

Koro-Ha's POV is probably my favorite and he has the most character development from the first book. Where he goes from a very self absorbed and selfish person who only cares about the world's luxuries. To becoming some who's willing to die in order to protect his people's history.

Where The Hand Of The Sun King was one of my favorite fantasy debuts in years. Garden Of Empire is one of the best fantasy books I've read. And which can only be topped by the third and final book in The Pact and Pattern series.
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The Garden of Empire is sadly a book that did not live up to the first entry for me. The writing remains great, but I did struggle to connect to what was actually going on. While the first book was a relatively straight forward coming of age adventure with us closely following Wen Alder, then this one just increased the scope too much for me. The biggest difference is probably the addition of extra PoVs that serve to show us the empire from differing view points which multiplies the size of the cast a lot due to them all being in different places and having a largely separated story. It felt very push and pull for me - there were moments where I really enjoyed following these characters (esp. Koro Ha), but this was almost always followed by a section that I did not care much about. After a while this constant back and forth made appreciating even the good parts little difficult. Our main characters continued story was pretty solid and I liked the dilemmas regarding revolutions and rebellions although I again felt like it was a bit of a downgrade from the first book even at the best bits.
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When J.T. Greathouse released The Hand of the Sun King last year, it did something that I never expected, it surprised me! The story of Wen Alder (or Foolish Cur) just clicked with me and it was one of my favourite books of last year, so when The Gardens of Empire was announced it was immediately put on my must read books of 2022.

So, I have not long ago finished The Gardens of Empire and let me tell you dear reader that this book is just pure awesomeness. I just love this Asian inspired fantasy, and yes again, JT Greathouse surprised me.  This time in other ways.

The story continues the story of Wen Alder, although he has now ditched this name in favour of his given Nayeni name, Foolish Cur and has joined the revolution against the Emperor proper. 

Now, before we get into talking about the book, I want to say a great big thank you to J. T, Greathouse for the synopsis of the first book at the beginning of book 2. I love it when authors do this and it helps to get reacclimatised to the world. I did reread The Hand of the Sun King prior to reading The Gardens of Empire, but the sheer fact that it is there shows that there is an understanding of his audience and he wants them to get straight back into the world that he has created. 

One of the things that I adored about The Hand of The Sun king was the way that the story unfurled. It started off quite small and by the end it opens into epic magnificence, and with The Gardens of Empire, J.T. Greathouse opens the world further by adding more character points of view, and it work so well, as not only does he expand on some of the characters from the first book, but he also maintains some of the supporting characters like Atar and continues to give them a supporting role. 

As I said, there are some more characters added to this one. Firstly, in the prelude, we have the introduction of a completely new character, Ral ans Urrera, who at first seems to have little bearing on the story and is presented in a series of interludes. However, this does have a bearing later on.  Then, we have Foolish Cur’s former tutor Koro Ha. And finally, there is Hand Pinion, Oreole’s brother from the first book who blames Foolish Cur for his brother’s death and is hell bent on getting vengeance.

I thought this worked really well. Foolish Cur’s and Hand Pinion’s arcs are quite intertwined, and they have a direct bearing on the story, but Koro Ha and Ral’s are quite separate. However, they all do have an impact, but in different ways that you expect, especially Koro Ha’s, whose journey is really intriguing and I cannot wait to see how this arc has an effect on the wider story as a whole. 

In addition to this, we get some more back story on some of the supporting characters, such as Hissing Cat and Doctor Sho, who are both quite intriguing characters in their own right. 

In the Garden of Empire the world building is much more expansive, and whilst we touched on other cultures in The Hand of the Sun King, The Garden of Empire introduces us to Girzan and Tao Alon, which is explored more with the different points of view. When the story is told through the eyes of the other characters we get to see just how oppressive the rule of the Emperor is and how he has subjugated other cultures and amalgamated their culture and magics into his own canon of magic. Not only that we get to see and understand a lot more of the Emperors motivations and plans and just how expansive they actually are. 

The other thing that we get more of in the book is the Emperor, Tenet himself, and rather than just being a figure of myth and legend, we see him much more up close and personal in this book. He is not just a distant figure who seems clouded in his own reputation, but he is far more human and real in TGOE.
As usual the writing is superb, In some ways it reminds me of Raymond E Feist’s Magician, and that is always good in my book as I absolutely adore this book. I think it is the focus on magic and the Asian culture that does it. Not only that, JT Greathouse displays similar complexity and depth that is in Raymond E Feist’s works, detailing everything to add to the richness of the story. 

It was interesting to see more of the Gods and their motivations in the book as they have a greater part to play in this instalment, and we get to meet the pantheon and be able to discern their personalities. 

For me, the first book, The Hand of the Sun King was more of a character driven novel with a steady development of plot. However, TGOE seemed to increase the impetus of the plot and the two seemed to balance out evenly with developments in both areas. We are still party to observing the inner turmoil of Foolish Cur as he tries firstly to not become an overbearance in the revolution and his uncle’s rule, but then how this develops as he struggles to become accepted in his Uncle’s army. In addition to this, Foolish Cur struggles to accept the tactics and utter devastation that the war has on his people and whether there is a great difference in the methods used by both sides as the lines that they cross become more indistinguishable. 

There is still an onus on conflict, not just between the two rival factions, but also the inner turmoil of Foolish Cur as he straddles two worlds and also between the opposing rivalries of individuals and the factions. 

Again, J.T. Greathouse writes fantastically rich and complex characters and I loved seeing how they developed and the prose remains both rich and elegant. The plot is masterfully executed and similarly to THOTSK, I was left with that feeling of ‘bloody hell’ at the end and have no predictions of how this story is going to conclude in the third book, but I know it is going to be MASSIVE.

The Garden of Empire is simply an absolutely amazing piece of fantasy fiction that somehow manages to expand on an already richly described world with great characters and a driving plot, and I for one, cannot wait to see how this story ends.
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The Garden of Empire is a direct continuation of The Hand of the Sun King, following Wen Alder after he has chosen to defy the empire and places himself in the centre of the war between the Sienese and the Nayeni people. The Empire has incited war against the Gods themselves and Alder wishes to use his magic to stop them, but the rebellion’s plans to fight back against the Empire veer close to a dangerous path that raises questions of how different the two sides truly are from one another.

Now, Alder makes it clear that this is no longer just his story but one that encompasses something much greater. As a result, we also see moments of the story told by Hand Pinion, the brother of Alder’s closest friend, and Koro Ha, Alder’s former tutor, as they too navigate their places within the Empire and outside of it.

Like the first instalment in this trilogy, The Garden of Empire is beautifully written, the prose engaging and vivid without losing itself in dramatics. The magic systems and the world lore and economic systems are further elaborated on, but this story remains character driven for the most part. Alder’s inner turmoil surrounding his identity as he comes to understand the grey areas of the two worlds he has been raised between feels incredibly human; he is a deeply flawed character, struggling with feelings that I imagine will resonate with almost anyone who has ever felt like they might not belong. Equally, some of the passages told by Hand Pinion and Koro Ha were some of my favourites for the way that they tackled the Empire v the Rebellion from different angles, each one inciting multiple conflicting emotions. There is also a much stronger focus on the Gods and the pacts they made with the witches, whereas in the first book we were given the interesting, if not somewhat on the nose dichotomy of the elegant but controlling Sienese philosophy versus the wild, uncouth but free-spirited Nayeni people. This focus on wider, ancient powers is elegant and vividly described, the increasing complexity was cleverly integrated and really opens the plot up to something that I think, come the third book, could be utterly shattering.

Although it didn’t bother me enough to knock a star off, I have to say that I did feel that this book was a little more heavy handed than the first when it came to the idea of maintaining tradition. Progress is not always a bad thing, but there are moments when it almost feels like that is the message that we’re supposed to take from Alder’s journey, moments that imply that preserving everything known about the old ways is the ‘right’ path, so to speak. That said, there is a third book to come and that could very well be a point of contention as things come to a close, so I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt because honestly, this series continues to be something unlike anything I have read before, and I am utterly obsessed with this world that Greathouse has created.
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I received an eARC copy of this book from NetGalley and Orion Books in exchange for a review.

4/5 stars.

The Garden of Empire is a fantastic sequel to Hand of the Sun King. In my opinion it took everything that was good about the first book and made it better. It also took the worst part of the first book and improved it significantly.

The author expands all the already interesting magic system and fleshes it out. The magic feels much more dramatic and well used here. 

The world is also developed a much more. You really get a feel for the different cultures in this world. We got a bit of Nayen, a lot of Sien and a very small bit of An-Zabat in HOTSK. Here, we get so much more about the land and people of Nayen. We also get introduced to Girzan and Tao Alon and we start to see how all these oppressed cultures actually feel about the Empire.

These new perspectives come in the form of additional POVs, which I thought were the real standout addition to the series. Adding Pinion and Koro Ha's perspectives was such a breath of fresh air and I loved their storylines.

The reason I loved their addition so much, is because after reading HOTSK, I couldn't help but hate the main character, Foolish Cur/Wen Adler. I don't know if the author intended for the protagonist to be so unlikeable, but by the end of the first book, I couldn't stand him. He was so arrogant and solely focused on learning ALL THE MAGIC. But he never really had a reason for it and was just so irritating when he couldn't do it all. Also he portrays himself as a moral and righteous person who cares about people and the different parts of the Empire when all he cares about is magic.

In TGOE, this is toned down a lot. Particularly because he finally does know ALL THE MAGIC. But I found Foolish Cur a lot more tolerable here as he was more focused on something other than himself.

I also have to note that the battle at the end of the book was really well done. And there was a great twist to it.

Would really recommend this book and The Pact and Pattern series as a whole. Hoping this book does well on release.
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I loved book 1 so much. It was a fantastic debut and I wonderfully intricate story. However book 2 takes a different direction, it includes other perspectives which I just didn’t care about. I wanted it to be more like book 1 where we follow the main the character the entire time. Sad to say I didn’t enjoy this.
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“We all have a moral compass, boy, though not every needle points true north. This is where your own will start to drift, if you let it”

This was easily one of my most anticipated reads of this year so a MASSIVE thanks to @netgalley and @orionbooks for the advanced reading copy – I absolutely demolished this book in two sittings.

'The Garden of Empire' follows right on from the events that occurred in the first instalment, 'The Hand of the Sun King'. Foolish Cur (Wen Alder) has now found himself going against the empire that he was taught to love and obey, in a rebellion led by his own uncle. We follow him along on this journey, where he must make hard decisions and come to terms with the path that he is now following – despite the doubts he may have.

The main difference from the first book is that we now get follow several other characters perspectives, allowing the reader to see and experience both sides of this rising war. Having the ability to see how both sides justify their actions and their own approaches to political turbulence and the rising threat of war, really adds to the understanding of them. I loved having the mixed POVs it set an incredible pace to the book, and you really felt the threat increasing as you read on. I couldn’t stop reading!

Overall, the second book of the Pact and Pattern series is a wonderful addition. Amazing multi-layered characters, incredible developed magic system and an immersive world. Honestly, I can’t wait until the third and final one now!! The countdown is on.
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The Garden Empire is the second book in the Pact and Pattern series. The first book has received amazing reviews and that is why I picked it up and immeditely read the second book too. J.T Greathouse created a really amazing and complex universe. The first book was very slow but we could learn a lot of things about the world and magic system etc. The Garden Empire was more fast paced than the first book and also it has multiple POV's. I can't wait to read the next book and learn how the story continue. If you like reading unique stories, I'll definitely recommend this series.
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In my review for "The Hand of the Sun King" I said that the following books in this series have a lot to live up to. If anything, "The Garden of Empire" is even better! I love the writing just as much, still think the characters are brilliant, and thoroughly enjoyed the continuation of the story. Here's hoping for much, much more from J.T. Greathouse in the future.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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The Garden of Empire by JT Greathouse is book two in The Pact and the Pattern and what a way to do a sequel. Foolish Cur, previously Wen Alder, finds that his allies in the rebellion will 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, his 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.

I re-read The Hand of the Sun King before this and it is clearly evident that whilst that was Wen Alder's story, this continuation will have multiple points of view as others play an important role in the events that will unfold. We are treated to different parts of the Sien Empire and lands that were only briefly touched upon before. We see different perspectives of anger and vengeance, lore and betrayal. This story has opened up wider and Greathouse does incredibly well to juggle each perspective and showing different rule. The mystery and intrigue is still intricately plotted throughout and the future of the series seems to be larger than ever before.

The characters were interesting and imaginative. The world-building unique and expressive. There is inner turmoil that deals with coming-of-age and identification as we go through each experience and Greathouse shows the ambition of this novel right from the start. The captivation of Wen's choices and vanity is further explored and we can see the blindness that he leads with in a new light. He is not a perfect character, nor a perfect person, but the devotion and complexity that he offers was one of the more interesting parts of his characters growth. Each new character was also shown to be different and that can be a hard craft to manage with such a vast array of culture.

Greathouse has an elegant way of describing landscapes and beliefs. The thoughtfulness of nature and gods is further explored but the way it was handled was more info-dumping that shown and that can hinder the experience of a beautifully crafted philosophy. There were parts where characters behaved unlike themselves just to create a thrill for the narrative and that fell short when the story needed pushed forward. The ending itself has blew this story wide open and I cannot wait to see what JT Greathouse does with the next novel.

This was a fantastic book, an amazing sequel and one I will definitely see to completion.
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First of all, I'd like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

This is the second part in a series telling the story of Wen Alder, a young witch, who is navigating the relationship between witches and gods, and between various warring human factions. The story picks up as Wen joins his uncle and starts to slowly discover and master his newfound skills, and continues to evolve around the conflict between the rebels and the emperor. In the mean time, Wen's old tutor is going through his own adventure and journey of personal growth, and a new protagonist gets introduced (though, I'm assuming most of her story will get explored in the next installment). Heavily influenced by Chinese history and culture, and Confucianism plays a strong role in the characters' lives.

Overall, I like this even more than the first book in the series. It continues to excel at describing the conflicting motivations and emotions that govern the actions of those that are born and raised between different cultures and societies. While I wouldn't call it a nuanced study of the topic, it's vivid, realistic, and infuriating in equal measure. Main reason I like these books frankly (though I personally find most if not all the protagonists despicable).

I also liked the worldbuilding and its increasing complexity. At the beginning of the first book it felt very much like a young adult novel with very roughly sketched out principles. At the end of the second book we see far more layers of complexity, nuance, emotion, and intrigue. There is another, related, angle that makes reading this book unsettling and fascinating in equal measure - it's increasingly clear that the story is told, to a large extent, through the eyes of this immature, infantile, naive, and rather silly Wen. As this (second) book evolves, it's becoming increasingly clear that the simplistic treatment of this world is a function of the protagonist's perspective, rather than objective reality.

The pacing is also excellent - it's a hard book to put down. There is enough thrill here to make you keep reading and find out what happens and why things are the way they are. The cliffhanger at the end of the book is a result of a completely unexpected twist (at least to me!), and just leaves appetite for more.

There are two reasons for the 4 start vs 5 star rating. First is personal preference - it's a great story, but while the writing and the overall cohesion of the story are great signs of a talented author, they are not yet polished enough, or coherent enough, to put up there with the best of the best. I especially find the oscillation between "young adult" and "grimdark" styles a bit jarring, but again - this is a personal preference. I'd still recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy.

Second, and perhaps most important, is the heavily nationalistic red thread that this second book makes even more pronounced. While I understand that the story is influenced by Chinese history and criticises Chinese cultural colonialism of people and societies in its environs, it also, in my mind, goes a bit too far in celebrating all aspects of tradition. It's like there are only two choices - totalitarian progress towards a unitary society and culture, or obsession with the tradition of individual cultures and avoiding progress. The criticism towards China is perhaps too on the nose (and I'm not at all saying it's not appropriate - it's its depiction in the book and role in the story I find a bit superfluous), and this obsession with preserving everything old at all costs is perhaps too extreme. Not all progress is bad, and sometimes progress can lead to traditions becoming irrelevant and inapplicable. Nothing wrong in that. A bit more nuance on this topic would have made the book come across as more mature and less petulant.
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This is the sequel to The Hand of the Sun King and I was very fortunate to be once again approved for an eArc. I really liked the first volume so I was pretty impatient to read the sequel. I have to admit though that I was less thrilled by this volume, not that it was bad, far from it. The rhythm was very different as this time it followed Wen Alder / Foolish Cur on  a pretty short timeframe. The other big difference is that this book was multi POV, which I liked because it allowed to learn more about other regions, their own rebellion against the Empire and their magic. It gave a better picture of the Empire, even though I was kind of lost with the geography (can't consult the map on a ereader). I was scared that this novel would finish on a big cliffhanger, but fortuntely it isn't the case. You still want to read the sequel though!

Reading the report I wrote about the first volume, I realise that not much has changed about the presence of female characters. There are some more, but not a lot and it still seems like a missed opportunity since the non sienese cultures do not cast the women apart from their societies. However, the critic on colonialism gets deeper as we can see its effects on different regions of the Empire.

I didn't really like that the main character is so powerful, much more powerful than any other witch / sorcerer (there are...two exceptions) and nothing seems too difficult for him. And the author never explains why this is the case.

Even if this volume wasn't for me as enjoyable as the first, I still want to continue this series and discover what will happen with the emperor and the gods (I didn't, of course, talk about the content of this novel to avoid any spoilers).

Rep : brown skinned people
TW : death
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Foolish Cur, formerly known as Wen Alder defied the Emperor's canon and landed himself right at the middle of centuries old conflict between powers that can reshape the pattern of the world. Being a witch of old sort he becomes the only one who can challenge the Emperor and the ultimate tool Nayen rebellion needs against Sien. But every decision he makes has long-lasting consequence to people in his life and world around him and with those stakes he has to be sure he's fighting on the right side.

Another character we get insight into is Hand Pinion, brother of tragically murdered Oreole who had a role in betrayal Empire played against Ven in Greyfrost Keep. There are few chapters that teased another witch of old sorts but her presence in the novels is merely hinted and I assume she will play a very important role in the future. This is the most noticeable difference, but each pov is showing a different side of Empire's constricting rule, so it doesn't detract from the main storyline. To be honest, I wasn't sure how will this go considering Ryan did the same with The Raven's Shadow trilogy, but once I finished the book, Koro Ha's and Pinion's chapters were some of my favourite. And on that subject...
-I am a character reader. I feel like I can overlook less interesting plot and not as well imagined world-building if I like the characters. But if characters don't work, nothing works. With first person narration, coming of age aspect and inner turmoil about cultural identity Wen experienced, I can honestly say THotSK is tailor-made for a reader like me and that's why I liked it more. The second book is more fast-paced, with less introspective passages and much higher stakes and I flew through it, but I enjoyed the more intimate nature of first book more

The ending blew the story right out of the water and opened up the whole thing to a much bigger scale. It's a world-ending scenario with Foolish Cur at the centre of it and I am looking forward to seeing how he deals with Gods and his ambition in next book.
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Foolish Cur, once called Wen Alder, has sworn his allegiance to the rebellion of Nayen, swearing to overthrow the empire he once served, but his pledge is met with suspicion, rather than joy. To prove his worth to his uncle, he must find a way to train new witches in the old way as quickly as possible, learning from gods and immortal beings as much as he must learn from his fellow rebels. 

The second book of Pact and Pattern creates a more sweeping image of the empire than Hand of the Sun King did. Besides Foolish Cur, we also hear from his old tutor, Kora Ha, and Hand Pinion as he flees with his men back to Sienese strongholds. Through them, we get to explore a bit more of the politics of the wider empire, as well as some of the other seemingly extinct old cultures. The new viewpoints – in third person, to Cur’s first – were a great addition, keeping the book moving and allowing Cur to ruminate and philosophise whilst keeping the reader engaged and aware of the danger.

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ½ 
Genre: Fantasy
Trigger Warnings: Fantasy violence, massacre, some minor body horror, 
Would I recommend this? Yes (but not without reading book 1!)
Would I read a sequel? Yes
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The story follows immediately after the ending of "The Hand of the Sun King". I found this book is faster paced and more plot forward than the first one. Even though i have read these types of stories more before (rebellion against an empire by the original settlers); this series asks an important and interesting question to us. 

How far will you go? What is the morality of the war? etc. Both the factions has to answer this question. I really liked the way the author takes the story to answer this too. 

The world-building was excellent and the author spends a lot of time describing this. Overall, it was an enjoyable book that delved into the morally grey area of rebellions.
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