In a 2016 interview, Ken Liu—an author and translator who has been instrumental in bringing Chinese-language genre fiction to English-speaking audiences—described his first novel, The Grace Of Kings, as “War and Peace with silk-and-bamboo airships.” The comparison was apt: novels less complex (or less populated) than Tolstoy’s classic might risk selling Liu’s sprawling epic fantasy short. The 2015 novel, the first installment in the Hugo and Nebula winner’s Dandelion Dynasty trilogy, features magical books, intervening gods and Liu’s innovative “silkpunk” aesthetic—a reimagining of the technological landscape, complete with flying battle kites, that takes inspiration from East Asian history. Informed by similarly sweeping works, including The Iliad and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Grace Of Kings chronicles a rebellion that turns two foils—a bandit and the son of a nobleman—into friends, as well as the forces that subsequently tear them apart. —Cate Matthews

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