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When enigmatic nonhuman visitors arrive from the sea, the very foundations of the Middle Kingdom are under attack. The evil agenda of these invaders sparks a massive war that will determine the fate of the Ming dynasty and the nations beyond. A legendary swordsman allies himself with a banished Shaolin monk, a defeated bandit chieftain, a carefree Mongolian merchant, and an unknown philosopher who knows the only hope for victory. Together, this band of misfits strives to be proven worthy of the impossible task before them, even finding themselves at the Emperor’s doorstep. Determined to combat the invaders’ initial offensives, they must also help the Ming Army repel countless internal enemies who have rallied to bring down the mighty Ming dynasty.

REVIEW : Those who know me know that one of my favourite animes of all time is Rurouni Kenshin. So when the author contacted me and offered me this book in exchange for review, I read the premise and accepted immediately. The samurai, Sun Xin, most definitely reminds me of Kenshin (Known to those watching dubbed versions of anime as Samurai X). He doesn’t serve anyone in particular, he’s sort of a vigilante with legendary skills among the criminals but to his master he is still an errant student. The one who left without showing proper respect or appreciation of the home he had been given.

Then we follow a banished monk who is certainly more than he seems to be. Again, reminds me of an anime character (the monk from Inu Yasha minus the pervyness) Yes, you’re going to see anime references. I like anime. I like references. If you have a problem with that I’ll hire both Sun Xin and Samurai X to hunt you down.

Back to the book. The descriptions of the aliens was honestly terrifying. Pale men who come into the government and take over by way of bribing and making false promises is scary, especially when it’s out in the open that they are allowed a lot of privileges that no one else is. The country is in unrest and these three take it on upon themselves to figure out what the hell is going on.

The author seems to have very extensive knowledge about this time period and that made this a very trustworthy book to read. There weren’t any changes in the language (it was all very pompous and formal) and there weren’t any discrepancies in the continuation of the characteristics. They maintained their true selves throughout. But the thing is, I wasn’t about to see much of a difference between their tones. The author could have made the book more detailed and colourful, in the beginning Sun Xin meets this unassuming old man who actually turns out to be rather powerful. The entire portion lasted one page when it could have been half a chapter. It would have been better that way, the reader would have had more time with these characters and fallen in love with them right from the beginning. I wonder if an editor cut out the portion because it felt hurried.

The author has a brilliant storyline. Some nice characters but I do think he needs to work more on his writing style. Especially the consistency. There were some absolutely nerve-racking portions (The Ship Logs) and some sentimental ones that made me sad (Sun Xin and Meiling) but the pace wasn’t steady. Honestly, I got a little bored with the Monk’s portions and had to huff my way through it.

If you like more serous historic fiction then this is definitely for you. If you’re like me and prefer more Asian fantasy than historic fiction then this is not for you. While I did enjoy my time in Medieval China, I wasn’t as satisfied as I expected to be. I hope the author goes for another rewrite and turns this wonderful story into the epic it is meant to be, and maybe include a few female characters. 2.5 stars.

*I received a copy of this book for review.

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