ARC, Book Review, Books!, NetGalley, Signal Boost

NetGalley Review: Strike the Zither by Joan He

Hey all, Sam here.

I’m actually pretty darn excited…David and I are getting to go to an early showing of the “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” movie tomorrow. I’ve already read both prequel novels and the prequel comic, and frankly, I am really looking forward to this movie. Everything I’ve seen and heard has made it seem like a great movie and very true to the heart of a lot of D&D campaigns.

And of course, David and I are getting all ready to drive to Ohio next week for Fan Expo Cleveland, so if you’ll be in Cleveland for the con, stop by the Mousai Crafts booth in Artists Alley and say hello. I’m actually bringing my manuscript with me, so I can work on edits while we have those lulls at the con.

It also means that Monday and Tuesday I’ll be working on prepping up all the blog posts for the time we’ll be gone, so I won’t have to worry about getting them posted in time while we’re busy with the convention.

Anyway, let’s go ahead and jump into today’s review.

The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne. The realm has fractured into three factions and three warlordesses hoping to claim the continent for themselves.

But Zephyr knows it’s no contest.

Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged—while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one—and not all of them are human.

An epic YA fantasy about found family, rivals, and identity, from New York Times and Indie bestselling author Joan He, inspired by Three Kingdoms, one of the Four Classics of Chinese Literature.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

So, I got an ARC of this while at New York Comic Con last fall, around the same time that I was approved for the digital ARC on NetGalley. And I did start reading it around then. But then I set it aside and got busy with work and all the travel and everything. I didn’t end up picking it up again until recently.

I don’t blame the book. I thought it was interesting, and Zephyr certainly was an interesting character. Again, this was another hazard of my long reading slump struggles. I think I’m coming out of it, which is nice, but I still feel bad when it takes me months to finish a book. Because if I hadn’t set this aside, I know I would have finished it in just a few hours.

I liked all the strategy and intrigue and tactics in this book. Although I will say that at times it felt like Zephyr was a bit full of herself and arrogant. She would go on about how she was so amazingly smart and talented and such a great planner and strategist…….and most of the time I didn’t feel like that was true. Sure, she was smart, but some of her plans didn’t seem fully plotted, and she was outmaneuvered a few times.

This was a complex story, which was pretty interesting. Also, I have no prior knowledge of the tale this book is based on, The Three Kingdoms historical tale from China, but I think I will have to look into it so I can broaden my knowledge-base and cultural horizons.

But still, I was intrigued by the story, and I was definitely interested in Crow, which was what made me finally get around to picking this book up again, after I had abandoned it halfway through. Although, perhaps if I went back and re-read the first half, I might up my rating from a 4 to a 4.5. Most likely I will do a full book re-read before the conclusion comes out this fall.

Oh, Strike the Zither was released in October 2022, so you can get your own copy now. Well, that is all from me for today. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll be back soon with more geeky content.


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