Reviews for The Grace of Kings

The Grace of Kings will be officially released on 4/7, but some book stores already have copies on shelves, and Barnes & Noble has already started to ship online orders. Here’s a round-up of some early reader reactions, updated over time.

First, I’m going to do something unusual by linking you to two articles that are not labeled as reviews. But I think they tell you something important about why The Grace of Kings feels different from other epic fantasy. The writers comment on what I’m trying to do with this book.

  • Alec Austin, “Not a review: Foundational Narratives and the Grace of Kings”: “The Grace of Kings is, to my mind, a tremendously important book. I don’t just want it to be successful; I want it to open the door for more books which are built on non-default foundational narratives.”

  • Max Gladstone, “The Grace of Kings & Narrative Form”: “It’s a bracing and exciting approach. Epic fantasy, in failure mode, feels like swimming in a pool filled with lukewarm Mrs. Butterworth’s. The Grace of Kings is a dart through a crisp clear stream at dawn.”

Next, reviews! This isn’t meant to be comprehensive. I’ve purposefully chosen to focus on reviews that delve deeper into why the book worked (and sometimes didn’t work) for the reader.

  • Amal El-Mohtar, NPR: “Liu’s world is beautiful, nuanced, fierce, original, and diverse; it’s refreshing to read door-stopper fantasy where the geographies and cultures aren’t Europe-with-more-apostrophes.”

  • Justin Landon, “In the end, The Grace of Kings is moving forward. It’s about recognizing the past doesn’t hold the answers, and all the things we have been told are true and right and just may not be at all. He is reimagining an entire cultural narrative and in so doing interrogating the underpinnings of what is idyllic. He is using nostalgia to reveal modernity. More to the point, it feels like Ken Liu is remembering the future. And that’s something worth getting behind.”

  • Gary Wolfe, Locus (subscriber only): “The Grace of Kings [is] one of the most important, surprising, and sheerly enjoyable fantasies this year.”

  • Paul Weimer, SF Signal: “[T]he kind of Silk Road Fantasy that I’ve always wanted to read, and love all the more now that I have.”

  • Dario Ciriello, Dario Speaks: “The Grace of Kings is a book whose audience extends far beyond the traditional readership for Epic Fantasy, a must-read for anyone who enjoys a great story.”

  • Kelly Anderson, B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy blog: “The Grace of Kings rewrites the epic fantasy narrative.”

  • Peter Tieryas, SF Signal: “The Grace of Kings is like the mystical book Luan Zya receives from a divine hermit. ‘The book grows as you grow.'”

  • Ferrett Steinmetz, “Tearing Beloved Characters Apart Like Scrap Paper”: “[W]hen [Ken] sets out to break a rule he shatters it like cordwood.”

  • Rachel, GeekyLibrary: “There’s a rare elegance to The Grace of Kings that many authors work hard to capture, but Ken Liu seems to come by naturally.”

  • Alex Shvartsman, Buzzy Mag: “There are so many good things about this book, but the special sauce is Ken Liu’s ability to delve into the history and background of each character and make the reader care about their fate in short order.”

  • Kat Howard, Strange Ink: “Somewhere around page 300, things changed. … More women showed up, and had more time on the page, and they were well-written. Interesting, unique, fully realized characters. Bigger than the conventions of their roles.”

  • Helen Angela Lee, BellaOnline: “The fact is, I read a lot of popular fiction. Many of those books are fun and exciting and emotionally evocative, but haven’t really stuck with me. This one was different.”

  • Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins: “The Grace of Kings is, in a word, stunning.”

  • Michael Senft, Relentless Reading: “The Grace of Kings reads less like Martin’s bloody and fantastical version of the War of the Roses than a national epic like the Edda or the Aeneid, a grand history filled with larger-than-life characters who stride the world like heroes of old, marking their place in history with mighty deeds and big-ass swords.”

  • Elías Combarro, Sense of Wonder: “I cannot recommend The Grace of Kings highly enough, even to readers for whom epic fantasy is not usually their cup of tea. This is, so far, my favorite book in a year that has already brought some amazing novels.”

  • Charles Tan, Review: “We’ve read enough narratives that are regressive and aim to return to an idyllic past; The Grace of Kings is a revolution.”

  • Jake Kerr, “Liu redefines epic fantasy in a way that is refreshing, compelling, and has been long overdue.”

  • John Zeleznik, Review: “I’m going to say now that this is easily going to make the end of the year top 5. Sharpie it.”

  • Andrew Liptak, io9: “The Grace of Kings is an ambitious, astonishing, and sublime work, one that both exemplifies and diverges from what one might think of when it comes to epic fantasy. It should rank amongst the genre’s best works.”

  • Kate Elliott, A Dribble of Ink: This isn’t a traditional review as such. Rather, Elliott asks interesting questions about the novel — filled with spoilers though.

  • Ana Grilo, The Book Smugglers: The review notes many things the book does well, as well as disappointment with the way women characters are handled in the early parts of the book.

  • Nancy Hightower, The Washington Post: “Liu’s deftly created alternative world, thrilling action scenes and evenly paced plot promise a groundbreaking non-Western epic fantasy.”

  • Bookworm Blues: “This book was amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.”

  • Andrew Yang writing for the LA Review of Books: “It borrows a period from Chinese imperial history, but displaces this history onto an imaginary world American readers can identify with immediately.”

You can also look on Goodreads for more reviews.