Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is :  The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho.

TheOrderofZen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Expected publication June 2020

The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2) by Zen Cho

The True Queen is the second in the Sorcerer Royal series by Zen Cho and it’s a book that I really enjoyed.  I think if I was pressed I would have to own that the first in the series caught my attention in quite a dramatic fashion and made it somewhat difficult to compete with but I think the True Queen does a really good job as a follow up.

To be clear, this is not really a sequel as such.  Well, it does follow events from the first book, and some of the characters are present here, but we follow a different story and focus on different people.  I think it’s a really good idea to be honest although it’s also a little bit fraught in that you’re not getting the characters you already came to know so at the same time it’s something of a gamble.

The opening sequence brings to us two sisters, stranded on a beach on the island of Janda Baik, Muna and Sakti.  They both have no memories of who they are, where they’re from, or anything else of significance basically, other than they know they’re sisters.  The two eventually fall under the protection and tutelage of a local witch known as Mak Genggang.  Sakti is the only one of the sisters who presents with any magical ability and is trained as such. Muna finds herself helping in the household in other ways.  Unfortunately, the two sisters undertake a risky adventure that backfires and as a result they’re pressed into a position of having to leave the Island of Janda Bai so as not to draw unfavourable attention.  Mak Genggang is forced to call upon the friendship and respect of the Sorcerer to the Crown – Prunella.  The two sisters are granted places at Prunella’s school for magiciennes in London and both set off, on a rather unconventional route.   Along the way Sakti disappears and whilst Muna manages to reach the safety of London she now finds herself in a desperately precarious position. Her sister has vanished and by the look of things perhaps been taken into the fairy realm and on top of this Muna not only needs help but also needs to masquerade as a person with magic in order to keep her place at the school.  To make matters worse it seems that the Queen of the fae has issues, she’s having one of her moments when she thinks everyone is against her and consequently is on the rampage.

I really did enjoy this – with a couple of small issues which I think I will highlight first.  I think the opening chapter is terribly spoilerific.  It just gives away far too much imho and I think it should have been shortened.  On top of this I found Sakti quite an annoying character, very flighty and a little bit superior and uncaring towards Muna (although at the same time I think this was possibly intentional on the part of the author).  Muna came across as very caring and was genuinely concerned about her sister all the time but the relationship didn’t feel reciprocal.  The other thing that I felt a slight concern about was the way Muna was treated when she arrived in the UK.  Everyone was of course completely solicitous to her in terms of comfort but I felt their lack of concern over the disappearance of Sakti was really quite dreadful and bordered on the verge of rudeness.  Although, again, I think this was probably the intention of the author in order to really exacerbate the way people behaved during the Regency period.  “Oh, your sister has mysteriously disappeared?  Dear me.  Have a cup of tea and everything will be tickety-boo directly.”

To be honest, my niggles were few.  I loved finding myself in this absurd regency world where manners are more important than threatening to eat somebody or cut off their head.  I just loved the nonsense of it all.  I really enjoyed going to the land of the fae – via a circuitous route that is full of fun and I thought this was charming and appealing in equal measure.

The one thing I hadn’t foreseen, because of course I wasn’t aware of the change in tack, was the introduction to two thoroughly enjoyable characters in Muna and Henrietta and the friendship that develops between the two as the story progresses.  Hernrietta was a great character, thoroughly self deprecating and yet very dependable in a tricky situation.

Overall, a few niggles aside I thought this was a great second instalment and I can’t wait to see where the author takes us next.  One thing that I feel absolutely certain of is that this series will not be predictable.

A thoroughly charming book of magic, manners and regency silliness that is both entertaining and incredibly easy to read.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2) by Zen Cho

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2) by Zen Cho.  I was so happy to see this one is due for release.  I really enjoyed Sorcerer to the Crown.

The True QueenIn the follow-up to the “delightful” Regency fantasy novel (NPR.org) Sorcerer to the Crown, a young woman with no memories of her past finds herself embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae.

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

Due for publication March 2019

 

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Posted On 9 September 2015

Filed under Book Reviews
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Just finished reading Sorcerer to the Crown which I thoroughly enjoyed.  This is a great combination of Regency period manners and fantasy written in a very easy to read and accessible style.

My first thoughts upon starting this read were of a sort of mash up of Pride and Prejudice and Strange and Norell, but, let me be quite plain, this is not written in either the style of Austen or Clarke and Cho is in no way trying to mimic either of those authors. So, if your taste doesn’t run to old fashioned language and bonnets or lengthy footnotes and extensive descriptions of Regency England but you would like to read a period drama that brings a bit of intrigue and a touch of romance, takes a fairly bald look at a few of the restrictions and prejudices of the time and then places the society into chaos then look no further.  There is magic, there are attempted assassinations, there are talking familiars, trips into the land of the fae and flights of fancy atop the clouds.  And more.

Characters.  Well, we have Zacharias,  A freed slave who has unwittingly risen to the position of Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers.  To say this is a source of displeasure to some of the eminent magicians within that Society would most definitely be an understatement.  There are whispers and mumblings and things don’t look too good for Zacharias.  On top of this the magic seems to be in decline.  The border to the land of fairy is shrinking and the flow of magic in between the two worlds seems to be considerably reduced.  Zacharias needs to take measures to restore the balance.  We also have Prunella Gentleman, a wonderful name for a woman of mixed race who has also been at the receiving end of prejudice.  Prunella is an orphan, even untrained she seems capable of great magical displays.  She’s been brought up in the care of a woman who runs a boarding school for young ladies (of magic).  This of course brings us to the other restrictions of the time.  Women couldn’t possibly carry out magic – they’re far too fragile and delicate to attempt such a feat, in fact it appears to be more acceptable that they perform almost death like rituals to remove their magical ability rather than use their ability (and quite potentially be as good if not better than the men of the time).

In a strange twist Prunella goes off to London under the care and tutelage of Zacharias – he’s going to help her come ‘out’ into society, indeed he’s going to help her to catch a husband.  Because, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of immense magical ability must be in want of a wealthy husband!  Is it not?

I can’t really give too much of the plot away but I can say that the story moves forward at a great pace with never any opportunity for a dull moment.

What did I really like about this.  I enjoy reading stories set in a different period, particularly Regency. I like that this story turns the period onto it’s head a little bit.  We’re damn well looking at the inadequacies of the time and that’s that!  I enjoyed that we have such unusual circumstances such as Zacharias, freed from being a slave, now holding the most prestigious and sought after role in the country with great magical power at his fingertips.  And we have Prunella, a half caste woman with an extraordinary ability to weave magic who is completely capable of walking into any situation and handling herself admirably and is about to revolutionise the role of women in the magical field.  On top of that, I’m always happy to meet the inhabitants of fairyland and see what antics they’re getting up to – and, let’s face it we have a number of wonderful creatures who play a role. And, as if you needed any more incentive there is plenty of witty dialogue and moments of exasperation between the two main characters which is very amusing to read.

In terms of criticisms – nothing major to be honest – I think there was an element of the solution to Prunella’s problems being glaringly obvious – but that isn’t really an issue that detracted at all and it was actually quite enjoyable working up to the eventual outcome.

This is a quirky kind of read.  I found it quick and fun and I will definitely continue with the next in series.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.