Two teens struggle to survive in their conquered homeland.
In the city of Haak’gong, Lan gets by as a songgirl, performing and demeaning herself for the Elantians who colonized her homeland, the Last Kingdom. Lan seeks answers behind the curious scar on her wrist, a mark left by her mother, who died at the hands of an Elantian magician. After she is saved from a life-threatening attack by a boy named Zen, Lan discovers that qi practitioners and heroes of legend still exist and that hidden masters hold the truth behind the meaning of the mysterious mark she carries, a secret that could save—or destroy—the kingdom. The complex history of the Last Kingdom is based on Chinese history and reveals the deep impacts of war, forced assimilation and annihilation of clans into one central Hin identity, and colonization, with its rewriting of culture and history. The Elantians read as fantasy equivalents of White Europeans. The magic system is intriguing, with the Last Kingdom’s focus on balance and the elements juxtaposed with the Elantian’s martial, destructive metal-based magic. The explorations of free will and how strength is used are nuanced and contrast wonderfully within the two lead characters. While some major plot points are predictable and some villains feel one-dimensional, the fast pace and evocative prose are intriguing. Although the romance begins with instant attraction, its slow, realistic progression shows growing trust and support.
A complex and fantastic introduction to an epic new world.(chronology, map) (Fantasy. 13-18)