Jian has spent his entire life living in luxury. It was prophesied that he would become the hero who would ultimately defeat the Eternal Khan, a cruel immortal god-king, and save the kingdom. That prophecy makes him a hero before he even does anything and he’s treated like a hero just for being born. He is also treated to many, many different teachers to help him train in multiple forms of combat.
But when Jian and his entourage are visited by an old woman, Taishi – the only person to have faced Khan in combat and live (although she lost an arm in the conflict) – who is stunned to find that the prophesied hero is nothing more than a pampered baby. When he spars with soldiers for his training, it is clear to Taishi that the soldiers (generally old, slow men whose best days are behind them) are holding back to make Jian look and feel powerful. The one-armed, old woman inserts herself in the session to show Jian, and his teachers, that the prophecy might just be in trouble.
The pampered child doesn’t care to be shown up – no one’s ever done it before – but through the course of the book Jian must learn to trust Taishi completely and Taishi in turn must recognize her duty to helping the prophecy come to fruition.
This won’t be easy, however, as an assassin is out to destroy the prophecy by killing Jian (who’s clearly not prepared to defend himself).
I’ve become quite a fan of Wesley Chu’s work. His plotting is deep and his characters extremely three-dimensional. There is so much to this book – it’s a nearly perfect balance between character and story.
The story works as an adventure story, but the depths of the characters makes this something more interesting. I think this is true of all of Chu’s books that I’ve read – great, active stories but with characters that really keep the reader engaged.
There is a downside, however. This doesn’t feel like a complete book.
Regular readers of my reviews will know that I don’t care for the publishing industry concept of putting out a book that isn’t a complete story within the pages. There are plenty of examples of series’ with a multi-book, over-arching story but still manage to be complete stories in themselves. This doesn’t feel complete. It’s a really great set-up, but it seems pretty clear that if you really want to enjoy this story you’re going to have to wait and buy the next volume (or two?). For me, that’s a no-brainer – I like Chu’s writing. But how much of this book will I remember when I go in to the next one? Or will the first few chapter be refresher?
Great writing, great characters, but points deducted for not having a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Looking for a good book? Wesley Chu’s The Art of Prophecy is the beginning of a really good story, but you’re going to need to shell out more money some time in the future to find out how it ends.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Art of Prophecy
author: Wesley Chu
series: The War Arts Saga #1
publisher: Del Rey
hardcover, 528 pages