I find it difficult to rate this one because - while it doesn't end on a cliffhanger - it clearly is the first part of a longer story. I loved the scale - both geographic and chronological - of the story. It starts with Zhu in her village, starving, leads to her coming of age in the monastery and continues on with her military and political rise. The characterisations are well done and we get insights into their thinking and motivations. Zhu's development regarding ethical behaviour was a little predictable but not unrealistic. Lately, I've also found myself thinking about having a fate or choosing a fate while reading a different book. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 19, 2021 by Tor Books.