The second volume in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series just had its paperback release, so this felt like a good moment to review this sequel to 2015’s The Grace of Kings. If you aren’t familiar with that start to the series, you can find my review of it here, and I would not recommend starting with the sequel or reading further in this review. The plot of The Wall of Storms actually does stand rather well on its own. However, the framework of Liu’s Chinese-history inspired archipelago kingdom/culture is built in the first book and could be harder to appreciate or grasp without starting there.
As hefty and epic a tome as its predecessor, The Wall of Storms seems to fit in the overall series plot arc as a transition. As meaningful and impactful as Liu’s debut novel, the sequel continues similar themes of individual and societal struggles to advance and improve, but within a political context shifted from revolt to one of maintaining benevolent power amid threats internal and external. A split between those internal to external threats comprises a hinge both conceptual and physical: forming the transition from events in The Grace of Kings to those to come in the third volume, and dividing The Wall of Storms into roughly equal halves. The novel deals with the ramifications of Kuni Garu’s populist rise to power as Emperor Ragin of Dara, with the consequences of the actions and compromises that he, and other characters, made while seeking the greater good or in yielding to their weaknesses. [Read more…]