The Art of Prophecy

Author:

My rating: 3.0 of 5 stars

Quick points: the book had a good premise, some interesting characters, and some not. The story was well written, but the plot was unnecessarily dragged out.

Jian was born to be a hero. Declared the prophesized Chosen One at his birth, Jian was raised in riches and with high honor, as he trained to defeat an invincible enemy. But his whole life & purpose shatters in an instant, when the enemy dies without his help. Suddenly irrelevant, and deemed an expensive & dangerous figurehead, Jian must run from the very people who had honored him all his life. But life is very different when you’re a poor nobody. If Jian can’t acclimate to life while blending in as a normal person, then he very well won’t have a long life.

There were four POVs. First, waa the prophesied hero, basically a teenager who was raised to be a spoiled princeling and has been told he’s a special snowflake all his life. Next, was Taishi, a grumpy old woman, one of the best martial artists in the world, and who spent half the book complaining about her old bones and the other half on actual fighting & fleeing. The last two perspectives were told by the enemy. One, an interesting martial artist, and the other, a psychotic murderer.

The constantly changing points of view was annoying. Mostly because I didn’t connect with or like most of the narrators. I enjoyed Jian’s parts. He was the only one there with a character arc. Everyone else was there to save or kill him, while also moving the plot along. Taishi was a good narrator at times, but she got too much screen time after she parted from Jian, and most of her scenes were unnecessary plot fillers. The book could’ve been half the size and better told without most of her chapters.

One of the villains was multifaceted. I was able to see them as the enemy, while also sympathizing with them. The second villain was just plain evil. A cold hearted murderer who killed for fun and profit. I can admire a good killer, but this one didn’t have any aspect I could connect to or sympathize with. At all. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I didn’t have to drag my way through several chapters narrated by them.

This isn’t a xiaxia story, even though it has a medieval Asian setting and a martial arts focus. At least I don’t think it is. The main character didn’t really improve his martial arts skills throughout the book, and the other characters started out already proficient. Basically, this was a story about a prophecied hero who has to learn that he’s no better than anyone else, that he has an inflated self image, and how to get along with other people as a normal person. It made for a good character arc, but the book spent more time on irrelevant matters and didn’t focus on this as much as I wished it had.

While this book had a good premise and was easy to read, the plot dragged on too long. If I could take an axe to some of the characters and scenes that I deemed extraneous, I might’ve enjoyed it more.

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