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The Grace of Kings Audiobook

The Grace of Kings: The Dandelion Dynasty

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Publisher's Summary

Two men rebel together against tyranny - and then become rivals - in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they both find themselves the leaders of separate factions - two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2015 Kenneth Yukun Liu. All rights reserved. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (399 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.0 (369 )
5 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (370 )
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3 star
 (29)
2 star
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  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 12-27-15
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 12-27-15 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "Eastern-flavored epic fantasy"

    3.5 stars. Inspired by ancient Chinese epics, The Grace of Kings is a worthy entry into contemporary fantasy. The characters combine larger-than-life qualities of cleverness, wisdom, strength, and courage with familiar human flaws and frailties to produce a story that's as much a play of ideas as an adventure.

    The novel is set in a world where seven distinct cultures (some more "Asian" than others) have always resided on seven different islands, constantly fighting with each other, but maintaining a balance of power. However, that ended when one nation developed a powerful fleet of airships and conquered all the others. The new emperor, now in power for some years, has labored to impose a single system on all the nations. But the forced peace begins to unravel when a scheming official assassinates the Emperor and installs a new, more pliable ruler, who doesn't understand that power is a double-edged sword.

    Living on one conquered island, indifferent to politics, is the clever but shiftless young Kuni Garu, whose personal philosophy is all about making the most interesting, if not necessarily the most responsible, choices. Growing up elsewhere is an imposing young man named Mata, who burns for revenge against the Empire after what it did to his family, and has little patience for anyone he considers weak or cowardly. And in the background are the gods, who are carrying out their own celestial struggle through small acts of manipulating human affairs.

    In their own ways, Mata and Kuni are each pulled into leadership roles when a rebellion begins, the former as an uncompromising warrior, the latter as a bandit leader who reluctantly accepts the mantle of greater responsibility. The two join forces and eventually vanquish the enemy in a series of tough battles and daring schemes.

    However, that's only the halfway point of the book. In in addition to the usual political upheaval that accompanies a conflict's end, the outcome of the war sows seeds of division between the two friends, and Kuni exiled to his own small domain, while Mata goes on to prove that a warrior's strength and uncompromising will don't always translate to being a good ruler. And so the novel's real struggle begins, not just over territory, but over values and ideas. The world of the seven islands can't go back to what it was, but where should it go?

    As a writer, Liu seems as interested in instruction as storytelling, using characters to embody different philosophies about religion, governance, leniency vs. force, the roles of men and women, science, how to reconcile differing cultural ideas, how to live, love, etc. As a result, most of the characters aren't as well-developed or permanent to the story as Kuni and Mata, and I found myself losing track of who was who at times, especially given that some names sounded similar in the audiobook. The different cultures and gods were also a little confusing to keep in order.

    Still, even if the lessons in the story were conspicuous, Liu's insights found their way in with sufficiently light, humorous touch for me to enjoy the novel and its Eastern flavors. If the years to come bring more fantasy set in a Chinese, rather than Western European, milieu, I won't be disappointed.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-01-15
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    "Worldbuilding trumps plot"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The story seems to following the model of ancient Chinese classics like The Romance of Three Kingdoms a bit too closely - Grace of Kings attempts to portray generations of history and myth, unfortunately characters and finer plot points get swallowed up in the confusion. This could be three or four moderately long novels instead of one big epic.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    This didn't scratch my fantasy itch - maybe I'll check out Wheel of Time finally, or the audiobook version of Game of Thrones.


    Which character – as performed by Michael Kramer – was your favorite?

    Honestly - I don't remember them.


    Do you think The Grace of Kings needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Unfortunately, no. There is enough material here for at least a trilogy, which is part of the problem. Perhaps a new series in the same world would be interesting, as long as the author takes his time.


    Any additional comments?

    Despite feeling like this book was a bit of a dud, I do like Liu's style and feel his future work may be worth a try.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeevan Devassy 09-24-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Great Read!"

    I had gotten tired of standard fantasy tropes set in the watered down version of medieval Northern Europe/Britain with elves & dwarves. This completely scratched my itch for something original. It was a reworked tale from early Han dynasty China with a steam punk-like twist. I loved the character development, plot and scenic descriptions. Looking forward to the sequel.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reviews by L Odessa, TX United States 06-11-15
    Reviews by L Odessa, TX United States 06-11-15 Member Since 2014

    Snotty, elitist lawyer who reads too much and is kind too little.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't believe everything you read"
    What would have made The Grace of Kings better?

    Less infodumping. For sure. It reads like an encyclopedia's history with occasional vignettes into characters lives.


    Has The Grace of Kings turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No. I still think sf can be done well, recent evidence to the contrary.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The scene where Kuni is starting to woo Jia were better done than the rest of the book and showed real humanity in the characters.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Liu obviously can write, which is what made this frustrating. He stood in his own way more often than not.


    Any additional comments?

    I think Liu will eventually be a great writer, once he begins to care more about people and events than histories.

    14 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Manuel Marco Huixquilucan 04-21-15
    Manuel Marco Huixquilucan 04-21-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good story but a slow beginning "

    I liked the story, but it took me a while to get hooked, at the beginning I was struggling and only kept on going because of my stubbornness. Once hooked there are some parts where the narrative is shallow and fast and others it goes into so much detail.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael New Orleans, LA 04-26-15
    Michael New Orleans, LA 04-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "I Want My Bragging Rights, And I Want Them NOW!"

    As my time is so limited as of late, and much of it not by preference, I haven't taken the time to write an Audible review since last summer, despite the number of reviews I've offered you in the past. PLEASE understand, it's not because I don't want to - It's the nature of where I am in my business and personal life, including a recent hospital stay - There are simply too many irons in the fire in my life that must burn fiercely - A necessity that simply cannot be avoided. It's no brag, but more of a severe regret. I love the Audible listener community we all share, and I'm proud to be a small part of a great group of people.

    So, If I'm stopping and dropping everything all of this hectic life of mine, after listening to this audible gem, and putting all of my excuses aside, to strongly recommend this entrancing, absorbing, world-building audiobook ripe with enjoyment and the potential for either sequels or other original works, be patient with my excuse. Please take what I passionately pen here to heart.

    Remember when you read George R. R. Martin's first Game of Thrones novel so long ago?

    Sure you do.

    Complex storyline, good characterization, astounding world-building, absorbing plots, and well... chock-full of potential. You KNEW that this author and his writing was really good, and was going to go somewhere - This Martin guy, whoever he was, had something going on. You weren't completely sure where that first novel would next take you, but you wanted to be there for the ride. You were hooked, and continued reading his subsequent GoT novels. And you knew in your gut that this would make for a fantastic VISUAL experience someday, if done passionately and correctly. And when the HBO series became a huge hit, you bragged to your friends and family about how you read that first GoT novel LONG ago. You were there when it all started. , and deep down inside, you were pretty pleased about the journey.

    Come on, admit it.

    But keep in mind, I was reading Martin's WILD CARDS series back in 1987, when his budding (and a bit rambling) writing career was almost swallowed up by a number of much lesser-qualified and not-so-passionate writers (In my opinion) in that series. Martin was honing his writing chops at that time, but he was definitely working his way to the Iron Throne. So I was there with Martin DECADES ago. This Martin guy somehow stood apart, and I knew that I wanted more. I'm so glad I was fortunate enough to discover his earlier works when I did, and to travel along with him for his subsequent growth in his now astounding works. A pleasant romp. a satisfying journey.

    But back to the point.

    I think we have something VERY special here, dear Audible listeners. As a first world-building and character developing novel, it HAS to start a bit slow. It's part of the process to get the listening pleasure you definitely deserve. However, I'm convinced that this is one of those "I was there when this writer started long ago." opportunities. This is a stand-apart audiobook, despite the small bumps in the road. Can be a bit better than the quite good work it is. Yes.

    But is Liu on the same level of writing Martin? Of COURSE not. PLEASE. But you have to keep in mind the following:

    Martin has plowed through MANY DECADES of writing MANY solid (and not so solid) pieces of work, to hone his craft, to define his wordsmith magic, before he crafted his brilliant GoT novels. I'm totally confident Martin has thrown out more of his writings over his career than many authors have ever published. Work he considered unworthy for his readers, and one day, his listeners and viewers.

    Now, go find Liu's writings - Good luck on that one, and bring a microscope with you when you do. It's dismally paltry, compared to Martin. But for where Liu is in his writing career, and YES, he's quite new at this - It's not perfect (most authors initial writings AREN'T), this is another one of those writers I am going to follow CLOSELY. I swear, there's something here - A beginning, and what I consider to be a very good one.

    So, I'm going to be watching Liu closely. Like a HAWK.

    Because if he's THIS good starting out the gate like this, at this baby-steps point in his career, so fresh and new at this, just starting to hone his craft, I'm convinced that there can be a MAJOR writing future for this author. I've NEVER said that in 142 Audible book reviews, and 279 Audible ratings since I joined you wonderful listeners as an Audible member back in 2006.

    And if you read my reviews, I'm at times, quite frank and can be very BRUTAL.

    So, again, if I'm putting everything on hold to this crazy time in my life, after almost a YEAR of not writing Audible reviews, and writing of my LONGEST reviews ever, I do it for a very selfish reason - This is great beginning, and a VERY enjoyable listen from what I consider a new author.... One that still has a ways to go. But, I want bragging rights on Liu down the road, to say I was there when it started.

    And I'm betting you will too.

    And also, the narrator did an excellent job bringing the novel to life - Always a good thing.

    So, go ahead. Crack open that virtual wallet. Pull out that Audible credit for this audiobook.

    Brab your bragging rights while you can.

    43 of 73 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Bettendorf, IA, United States 05-19-15
    Mark Bettendorf, IA, United States 05-19-15 Member Since 2011

    Photographer, nature & water geek, music lover, book fiend.

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    "Conceptually good, but too many short-cuts"

    In many ways, this had the makings of a good story. But it fell short of the "epic" it is advertised as, and that's too bad. I don't want to inadvertently spoil anything, but it seemed that too often when a crucial moment was upon a leader or main character, betrayal was a foregone conclusion, or a leader or character made a snap decision or went against their previous nature & it seemed done more to advance the storyline, rather than to remain true to what we believed about the character. It just rang false several times, which took me away from the story or caring about it any more. And that seemed to happen too often. Which may even be true to human nature...history is, after all, full of decisions made by leaders to advance agendas rather than out of concern for humanity or the world.

    Anyway, it was obviously a good enough story, as I completed it. I just don't know that if recommend it.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rory 05-12-15
    Rory 05-12-15 Member Since 2016
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    "An epic tale of politics and power."

    Wow, this book was like if Brandon Sanderson's The Way of King meets Dynasty Warriors!

    Also heaps of mentions from ancient China.

    Michel Krammer's narration was superb.

    Can't wait for the next book in the series!

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Schaperow CT 07-15-16
    Sam Schaperow CT 07-15-16
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    "3-part review: Overall, TV Comparison, & Feminism"
    Any additional comments?

    I. Overall: Grace of Kings (GoK) is an enjoyable epic story, which I experienced as a well-narrated audiobook. Pros: GoK excelled in having numerous characters with clearly different personalities, well-explored topics of emotional brotherhood, complex politics, how emotions can change the political landscape and start or end friendships, and much more. More than many stories, the book kept a consistent logic & rationale most of the time. Like many books, and unlike many TV series, continuity was high. Cons: Characters changed often enough to limit the depth of character exploration to ~two main characters and a few more recurring characters, and the brotherhood seemed to develop quickly and end too easily (though the ease of ending may be explained by how easily they started [& informally called each other brothers], therefore there was symmetry).

    II. Comparison with four TV series ratings (out of five *s listed for each topic, with each rating deliberately + or - one point in accuracy), consisting mostly of my own experience, and partially of others’ experiences:
    A. Grace of Kings (book 1 of 3 in the Dandelion Dynasty Series):
    • Politics: 5
    • Character Development: 4
    • Unique/unusual ideas: 4
    • Logical and rational plotline: 4
    • Continuity: 5
    • Enjoyment: 4
    B. Star Trek the Next Generation, Seasons 1-2:
    • Politics: 3
    • Character Development: 3
    • Unique/unusual ideas: 4
    • Logical and rational plotline: 2
    • Continuity: 3
    • Enjoyment: 4
    C. Babylon 5, Season 1:
    • Politics: 4
    • Character Development: 3
    • Unique/unusual ideas: 4
    • Logical and rational plotline: 4
    • Continuity: 4
    • Enjoyment: 3
    D. Star Trek Voyager, Seasons 1-2:
    • Politics: 1
    • Character Development: 3
    • Unique/unusual ideas: 4
    • Logical and rational plotline: 2
    • Continuity: 3
    • Enjoyment: 3
    E. Game of Thrones, Season 1:
    • Politics: 5
    • Character Development: 5
    • Unique/unusual ideas: 4
    • Logical and rational plotline: 4
    • Continuity: 5
    • Enjoyment: 4

    III. Feminism: Firstly, what is feminism? “1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests” (Merriam-Webster). Let’s start with definition #1 in describing GoK. Does this book show women as having equal rights with men? Like most novels based in eras lacking relative equality, it does not. However, a world w/o equality does not prove to be without said "theory". We need to move to the 2nd definition to best understand GoK from a feminist perspective. What is remarkable about GoK is how it shows a progression of obtaining equality due to activity initiated by one or more of the main characters, which becomes organized and effective. Essentially, this book is much like many historically based novels, but the breaks the mold by showing clear progress toward feminist ideals. It can further be reasoned that the subsequent books will continue on this same feminist path.

    While the book does have more prominent male figures, it is contextually accurate to historical writing (this book isn’t non-fiction, but appears largely based on historical non-fiction). Still, if someone only appreciates a story about 50+% prominent female characters, and is less interested in the progression of feminism taking hold w/in a society, then this book may not be for them. Though, IMHO, an ideal feminist virtually stops seeing people as men or women, but as people. When reaching that state, it matters not if the characters are male or female, but that they are people. [Though this point excludes previous points about seeing men & women w/equal rights, at the point of ideal feminism via reading about characters], a person can read a story about all females, all males, or a mix, and get enjoyment from the characters that is not colored by their gender.

    Thank you for reading my review, and feel free to comment. FYI, the story I'm currently listening to is "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories" (note I tried to insert this product link, but Amazon links to the wrong book, so perhaps someone reading this can let Amazon know of this problem so "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories" can be put down as a link), and the TV series I'm watching is "Girls".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason B Pierce 07-08-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Pretty good"

    I thought the narrator was good. Some of the names of people and places are tough to follow just by hearing. The story is hopeful, exciting, heartbreaking, and sometimes you really see the idea that our best laid plans might be for naught.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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