Fantasy novel about straddling cultures and collecting powers
This was the next set book for my fantasy book club, which I had to dial into because I caught COVID-19 at the end of June, and then almost as soon as I recovered, I caught a cold.
“The Hand of the Sun King” by J.T. Greathouse is the first novel in the fantasy series “Pact and Pattern” about a young man who grows up in two cultures. In his father’s household, he is Wen Alder, studying for the Imperial Examinations to obtain a prestigious position serving the Emperor. However, in the dead of night, under the tutelage of his maternal grandmother, he is Foolish Cur studying the old ways. Trying to balance both identities, and unable to keep his own ambition in check, he finds himself propelled into a life of politics and intrigue, of rebellion and conflicted loyalties.
This was a really interesting novel with a complex and well thought out magic system. Greathouse is consistent and detailed with the use of magic and fans of epic fantasy will not be disappointed reading about Foolish Cur’s efforts to master various powers. The novel is paced in a way that the reader gradually learns more about reaches of the Sienese Empire and the effects of colonialism at the same rate that Foolish Cur does, creating a sense of connection with him and an investment in his story. I have mentioned a couple of times on here that I have been enjoying books where the primary motivation is ambition, and this was no exception.
However, I did find the book takes a while to get started. While I appreciate the earlier chapters lay a lot of essential groundwork for the overall premise of the book, it was initially slow to gain momentum.
An enjoyable book (once it got going) with unique and well-considered magic, few boring fantasy tropes and plenty of complexity.