fixing a society requires sacrifices | descendant of the crane by joan he

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41219451. sy475 Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death... because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.







it is time for change
Descendant of the Crane begins with the murder of a king and the princess committing treason - quite bold moves to begin a story with for sure. One of the most central themes  throughout the novel is this idea of radical change - of tearing down the existing government structure and replacing it with something better. This process, as we all know, doesn't come without a price and it was quite interesting to get into the heads of all the different characters to analyze their motives for trying to birth a new social order.

jump cuts
Much of the written story feels like a movie with several scenes that are all just pasted together with no transition. Especially at the beginning, the scenes and instances change so rapidly that the plot feels like a badly edited film. With that said, this is a debut novel and honestly isn't the worse one I've read - the pacing of the story (with all the jump cut editing) was still able to keep me continuously engaged. The author shines in bringing her visions to life in a very simplistic and convincing way which, honestly, can be relief when many writing styles now focus on overly lyrical and vivid storytelling methods. 

enemies all around
Princess Hesina lives in a very tumultuous time with enemies that check her powers at every turn. She is a ruler with much to learn and a knack for becoming easily overwhelmed by forces both external and internal to her. It's easy to see her character as weak but one must be blind to not observe her growth. I loved the historical Han court life that is described and the treachery that lurks in the hearts of all. Hesina could easily outsmart her enemies, she just needs to the time to learn and believe in her abilities.

protecting those we love requires sacrifices
Sacrifices take on such an interesting definition that changes with every character. However, the recurring theme that links them all together is the understanding that those we sacrifice for sometimes cannot see the reason of our actions at the time. Particularly from Hesina's perspective - while her enemies are drawing closer, her family and friends are making decisions that drastically alter her path in ways that she doesn't understand. She does become the puppet of other people's actions and ambitions, yet, it is their sacrifices that continue to mold and sharpen her character.

potential built on a strong foundation
I was quite conflicted after I finish reading Descendant of the Crane because it left me with so many strange emotions. If I were to analyze the story solely based on the writing and development of the plot, I would give it a solid 3.5 but I left this story feeling excited for the potential to see the greater story arc unfold.

Princess Hesina is not the most memorable character for me but her perspective of the story has just set the wheels turning for a bigger revolution and that's what excites me. I know the author has stated that nothing is currently in the works, but I will patiently wait for hope for the future when she can revisit this world and finish the greater story.

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