What’s a prophesied hero to do when their projected destiny stops being in fashion? Wen Jian lost his identity as the Hero of the Tiandi during The War Arts Saga: Book 1, and he must forge a new destiny for himself that combines responsibilities to others (a learned skill after being a heralded, spoiled boy for most of his life) with becoming a skilled war artist. Can he grow up enough to really learn Taishi’s fighting style before her body finally shuts down? Is that even enough in a world that has now painted them as villains and fugitives? And what about the rest of the diverse cast? Their lives have taken drastic turns thanks to the events in The Art of Prophecy, and Sali and Qisami face especially complex life events that will affect everything.
Author Wesley Chu’s afterword mentions concerns about the difficulties of second installments in a trilogy (The common belief is that they’re never as good as the first, because they’re connective tissue between set up and climax.), but, in my opinion, The Art of Destiny skillfully builds upon the first book and pushes the characters towards adventures and choices that engaged me. Even the slower chapters serve a purpose in moving the story forward, and I appreciated the mixture of drama and humor that prevented me from having to do extreme emotional lifting the entire read; however, my favorite component was how Wesley Chu regularly subverted expectations throughout the numerous storylines. Almost every time that I thought I had accurately predicted how things would end, I was wrong, which impressed me given I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels and reinterpretations of hero’s journey sagas.
I praised the number of well-developed female characters in book 1, and book 2 ramps it up by amplifying the importance of an amazingly nuanced female power player, Sunri. Additionally, one of the most formidable opponents Jian faces in the key battle near the end of the book is a woman. (Any more details would ruin it.)
The Art of Destiny entertained and intrigued me from start to finish, and it skillfully develops a basic hero’s journey into a multi-faceted saga, where teamwork is more important than being “The Best.” I found it a compelling continuation to the story from The Art of Prophecy, and I’m eager to get my hands on the final volume once it becomes available.
4.5 Unique Childcare Methods out of 5
Author: Wesley Chu
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey
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