Long May She Reign 

This was a pretty surprising book, one where focused on a lot of politics, a lot of mystery. But zero on fantasy. So, if you want action and fantasy, avoid this. But if you like reading about schemes, then this is the book for you. 

And it is the book for me. Watching Freya becoming a queen, all the while facing plenty of revolts, people who do not believe her a queen. Having to win support from the people, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so very much. The romance only takes a small portion of the book, and Freya isn’t too stupid to believe that Fitzroy is completely innocent. And I do like how she even thought of her own father. 

Although the court isn’t as cutthroat as I expected, isn’t making her make the hard decisions as I expected. But it wasn’t anywhere safer. Motives could be as simple as wanting a better future. As simple as hoping for a better kingdom.

What I did like was showing Freya finding herself as a queen and having to assert herself. But I would have still preferred she was dealing with a lot more of hard decisions. Decisions which is very hard to make, both sides are pretty horrible but she has to pick the best of the lot. 

Another downside is the lack of worldbuliding, the fact that there is nothing on it. I would think that this should have been marketed as historical fiction, where it would have been believed way better given the lack of magic and use of science as explanation. 

As for the schemes here, the way the poisoning was done was rather intelligent. Using the king himself, and his own personality traits against him. All the while throwing suspicion off herself. I really like the murderer because it was such a sound plan, and that she has a much better mind. 

One thing that I do like about this book is the way it treats female friendships as important. The world is also not sexist. The court has many female characters. Madeleine gets a special mention, since she clearly is intelligent and although she won’t be able to support Freya in the end. Well, I like her for her intellect in thinking and her ability to scheme which makes me think that she should have been queen. Since she still has her conscience but with enough intelligence to get rid of all sorts of threats. But Freya is a rather nice choice too. 

Overall, I would say that this is a book filled with court intrigue. If you want fantasy, don’t read this. If you enjoy reading about a queen learning to rule, a queen having to find her own identity as a queen, her own way to rule. Also at the same time, how can someone go from nobody to becoming a queen, and one that indeed does know how to rule all the while keeping her conscience and not having her hands completely stained with blood by the end. Also, with only a touch of romance. Check this out this book as it is for you. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


The Wrath And The Dawn 

I just couldn’t immerse myself into this. I really couldn’t even connect with Shazi at all. I really could barely understand why all of a sudden they loved each other. Why all of a sudden she was married to him. The writing style, simply didn’t worked for me. 

I would say that it became so tedious for me to read through and I skimmed through most of it. And I really couldn’t care less about Khalid or even Shazi. Both of them were incredibly flat characters that there wasn’t anything interesting to really draw me in about them. 

As for the actual plot, I find that there wasn’t anything that drew me in. It felt as though I was reading about the romance, reading only about them. As for the actual mystery, the actual intrigue. If it happened, I wouldn’t be scratching my head as to what is happening and trying my best to not fall asleep as I read this. And be so uncaring that I completely forgot what the book is about at the end. 

So for me this didn’t work out. The style was a little strange, but rather okay. But the content was just so boring that I completely forgot about it. 

It was just so unremarkable that I can barely remember it. And Shazi and Khalid’s romance couldn’t even salvage this book, and I don’t even know why they fell in love with each other. It just seems so sudden, that he loved her. So sudden that Shazi is with him. It just became so unclear in my mind what was going on in the book. I clearly don’t care what happened in this book either. 

Except for one point where Khalid is seen revealing more about himself, and how he ended up becoming a ruler. That does seem rather plausible and nice too. And the only point where I read the story and remembered it. 

So, I would say that this book isn’t recommended by me. Since it was just so normal that I didn’t bother to remember the plot, and all the culture flew over my head. Just like Carve the Mark, which made it difficult for me to remember what just happened in it. 

Rating: 1 out of 5


Chang Ge Xing (Manhua) 

I know I have posted a post about this with the same title. That was a drama while this is a manhua. I really enjoyed this work, even though right now it is on hiatus. To me, the real selling point on this work was how Chang Ge was thinking about her own identity, her revenge. And eventually finding a path for herself. Also, there is a sense of slow romance here. I sense that the ending for this series is Chang Ge marrying towards the Turks at the end, seeing as how she barely even left a name in history. All that she is known as is by her surname, and nothing else. So, chances are the author wouldn’t be able to make her name in history but still give a suitable ending which is that she married a Turk in the end, or she left the country which I think would the best way out. 

Despite crossdressing initially, the author added a lot of layers. Such as her struggling to identity with being a man and a woman at the same time. Whether her path was on revenge or to help Tang. Those were the moments which I savoured very much, about Chang Ge. 

Eventually, it also went towards her Heritage. Chang Ge is born to an Uighur mother, and her father. Both have some impression on her. And both leave a mark on her. It doesn’t feel as though it was either her father or mother, both sides have made her who she is. And well, I really liked this as well. 

As for Ashina Sun, depending on how you view it. He is someone who lives by his own heart and he isn’t a savage. He simply makes decisions based on his heart and feeling, and doesn’t let it down ever. It is clear given how he treats Chang Ge, even after finding out that she is a woman. And really, the way that he always tries to protect his tribe, those that were under him makes him not so much a ruthless commander. Just one who is stuck in a terrible situation, after he was taken from the Khitans. 

I admit that the historical context is really well done, and the art is glorious. Given that this is just at the beginning of Tang, I wouldn’t expect much on its riches. Since it is before Wu Zetian, where Tang reached its peak. But the Khitans, the Uighurs and the Turks especially all resided near the Tang Dynasty at the point. 

And Chang Ge’s decision to become one of the princesses who would marry outside the country, to me was realistic. There were so many instances which happens depending on the situation, Emperors either married their own daughters or someone close to the family. Not just random women of their clan raised to the title of Princess. 

I really enjoyed how this work was true to its history. The Xuanwu gate incident had indeed robbed Chang Ge of not just her father, but also all of her brothers. And the reality is painted well here. 

As for the arcs, I really began to ship the two of them together, since it was rather good to see their relationship grow closer and closer together. Both have their own development, and their own personalities. The romantic tension, could be said is there yet not completely so. But I do want to see them together in the end. And despite all, they are rather independent and both accept the decisions of each other rather than fight to be together. 

Ultimately, I guess this manhua appealed to this history lover and the fact I wanted to not just read about romance. But also about war, and a lot more. Here is a very good way of portraying Chang Ge, and there are some very intelligent moments and analysis. And the male and female characters, they are all quite different in their own way, and the women despite being in a patriarchal society aren’t merely just vases. 

So, I would recommend it to those who are quite tired of seeing women objectified or wanting a different sort of work from the usual shoujo work. Though, I would warn you that the manga is on hiatus and may not be restarted for quite a while. So, don’t pick it up if you want an ending to your series. 


The Goblin Emperor 

Definitely a book to check out if you want political intrigue. Unique and brilliant, at least to me in a sense. This work has a lot of intrigue and the twists were rather interesting to turn out. Even though it is almost all of it, mostly what we would seeing a usual historical setting. 

But Maia is certainly a great Emperor, and his growth to me is a good one. Although he doesn’t gain the commanding aura of one, but in a way he still feels like an Emperor to me. An Emperor who wishes to change things and is resolved to do so. And is just someone kind and benevolent when he can. 

The world here is well-built with all the languages, the quirks and the worldbuilding making it seem so complex. It is something quite different blending intrigue and true fantasy itself, seeing as how machinations between the elves themselves play out. 

As for it being a story of a personal growth, which you will see in Maia as he becomes an Emperor. But you can still recognize him after, and that he is a kind soul for all he has done. Although he was abused by Setheris, he doesn’t exact revenge on him but neither tries to do anything with him. That is the best course of action especially if this guy should be thanking the gods he did not execute you. 

And neither does he take it out on just relatives unlucky enough to be associated with them. Many Emperors might not, in almost any country spare them. But I do like Maia for showing them clemency, unless of course if any decide to rebel. 

As for his view on women which is clearly healthy, he respects the woman he is marrying and males an effort to know her and who are her friends etc. But I do want her to have a slightly bigger role in this after all. 

As for the ending, I do like how it played out. Such as the bridge being built, all being settled once and for all. Overall, I enjoyed this book for its political machinations but I won’t recommend this for those who will be bored by the lack of any action, there are no fights here. Nor is it for those who simply don’t enjoy history or politics. But for me, I would say this is my kind of fantasy, with plenty of intrigue to see and play out. 

Though it was at times a hard work to read, some of it probably went over my head. And the political twist sometimes weren’t as clever for me, or something that made me realise why did I enjoy political intrigue. But nonetheless a decent book about fantasy and intrigue, at least the machinations just doesn’t make me look for the nearest wall to bang on. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 


The Winner’s Kiss 

I would say this was perfection. Here is where we see Kestrel being the strategist she is, able to outsmart and also predict. Yet unable to be completely correct. To me, she was a strategist with her own mistakes and being unable to predict correctly. She was trying to force her father to take a route, but he could choose not to. 

As for Arin, he becomes a lot more protective here even though he still respects Kestrel’s decisions and choices. And relies on her for strategies seeing as how she knows this much. 

The ending to me was the best with what Kestrel did to the Emperor, although I won’t reveal it. It has to be the best scene outsmarting the man like that, and killed him using such a method. Watching how she did it is nothing short of badass, in terms of wits not physical strength. Although Kestrel is not that bad honestly. 

And Kestrel is someone that I respect, she makes mistakes has bouts of downfalls in her judgement specifically the previous book, here is where she comes back stronger than ever. And really on her own as well. Arin contributed but I felt as though it was only a small part. And Kestrel to me is someone truly strong, not in terms of physical strength but actually cunning, smart and strong. And also able to survive all she has been through. What she went through in that camp, clearly is not something that all can survive. 

As for the war, it was watching ana actual war with all sides trying to attack and guess each other. With spies, soldiers and also gambles on both sides. After all, how much can you be certain about a decision someone makes? No hundred percent. And this book is just proving this even further, that Kestrel makes mistakes even against her own father. 

And her own father is not exactly a good one, given how he had been treating her so far and even betraying her. I did like that Kestrel still had emotion for him and in a sense forgave him in the end and wanted her to see her world and life. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book in how it really changed the typical idea of an action girl. Kestrel is clearly more brains than brawns, but she is not lacking in that area either. 

Rating: 5 out of 5