Review : Songs of Insurrection by JC Kang

« 𝗗𝘂𝘁𝘆 𝗱𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗹 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱. »

  • Release date : January 5th 2021
  • Publishing house : Dragonstone Press
  • Series : The Dragon Songs Saga
  • Pages : 524

Spoilers ahead

Characters :

Princess Kaiya : We mainly follow her perspective throughout the book. She’s a sixteen years old princess wanting nothing more than to be helpful beyond her value as a bride. Tradition requires a political marriage to strengthen ties between countries or influential lords within her country.

She dreams about the Dragon Singers of old and the powers they were able to unleash and the arrival of a foreign prince might be the key to helping her attain her goal.

She is described as gangly, sheltered, not as beautiful as other princesses and naïve. Her rash decisions endangered the lives of people and killed several denizens. There were some moments during which she grew a backbone but they were sparse. The prelude to Orchestra of Treacheries seemed to show a less naïve version of her so let’s see!

« Hold the dragonfly with care, for even their fleeting lives have value »

As in Masters of Deception, I didn’t like how sex had so central a place. Her obsession with Hardeep, the foreign prince and with sex were a bit annoying.

We also have two other points of view: Tian‘s (Kaiya’s childhood friend who was banished) and Jie‘s (a half-elf spy part of the Black Fist clan). Both of them are working together to discover where the illicit shipments of gunpowder are going and who is sending them. They also find that large shipments of food are also being shipped, food that could sustain a big army for some time.

Story :

Set in an Asian-inspired world, Songs of Insurrection follows two distinct plots which merge later on: Kaiya and Hardeep trying to rediscover the lost art of the Dragon Singers and two spies also trying to get to the bottom of the shipments of gunpowder.

I have watched my fair share of Chinese dramas and was glad to get back into this world. All the little elements such as the ranks, the exaggerated names for the buildings (Hall of Pure Melody…) or using a metaphor to talk about some things (Heaven’s Dew for menstruation).

There are 10 human ethnicities :

Aksumi : They can use sorcery.

Ayuri : They use martial magic.

Arkothi : They use rune magic.

Bovyan : they have no magical ability. They are taller and larger than average humans.

Cathayi (Hua) : They use artistic magic.

Eldaeri : they also have no magical ability. They are shorter and have smaller frames.

Estomari : They can use divining magic.

Kanin : They can use shamanic magic.

Levanthi : They use divine magic.

Nothori : They can use emphatic magic.

Kang depicted a vivid description of different cultures and societies. It was enough to be interesting and not bog down the plot. Politics is quite complex as her father, the Tianzi, has to balance everything to keep everyone happy. In the south, two countries are waging war on each other and because of Cathay’s shipments of gunpowder to one country, the other country is in a difficult position. He has to keep a cool head and not make rash decisions that could infuriate the hereditary lords or could cause another Hellstorm by going back on an agreement made with the imperial plaque.

« She closed her eyes and strummed. Her spirit soared to a place only music could take her… music made her feel beautiful.« 

At first glance, the plot seems a bit simple but as the book progresses, there are elements that are continually added to keep our interest. Inside the empire, rebellion is brewing in the north and our characters are trying to prevent this rebellion from succeeding. We gradually discover that it is part of a larger scheming organised with other countries and with people closer to the Tianzi than we think.

The concept of music was an intriguing one and I’m looking forward to reading about Kaiya’s growth, both in character and music. There are quite a lot of characters and keeping track of them may be hard at first. Reading the first few pages before the beginning of the story will help you remember who’s who. There were some repetitions here and there that could have been removed. Overall, it was a great experience.

Note : 3.5 sur 5.

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