First, we were obsessed with YA fantasy. Then, we got into historical fiction. And there are few things we love more than a well-written historical fantasy novel. But a historical fantasy with strong female characters and Asian representation? Sign us up immediately!
Joan He’s Strike The Zither is a fantastic reimagination of The Three Kingdoms, one of the most famous historical epics in Chinese literature. It’s also the first book in a duology, and we’re already too excited to pick up the sequel for it (hopefully soon)! In the meantime, we’ll tell you three reasons you should read Joan He’s Strike The Zither!
Content Warnings: war, blood, violence, death, major character death, animal death (non-graphic), torture, eye horror, starvation and famine, and vomiting (Read at your discretion!)
Summary: The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne, and three warlordesses each hope to claim the continent for themselves.
Only Zephyr knows it’s no contest.
Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged—while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one—and not all of them are human.
It Centers Around Female Characters
The original story of The Three Kingdoms features mainly male characters, as heroes are often portrayed. Joan He forgoes this tradition and reimagines the main characters to be women. The author shows us that these fictional figures would be just as interesting and three-dimensional as women! These characters are honorable and distinguished, not to mention cunning and loyal (well, some of them are). We can find all the qualities of a hero in our protagonist Zephyr and her allies.
The Politics Is Anything But Boring
The drama in the politics is so exciting and fun to keep up with. We see several betrayals unfold in Strike The Zither and spies in almost every region on the map. In war-torn towns and battlefields, rumors and information spread faster than a disease. And the intermezzo at the end that connects Strike The Zither to its sequel really changes how we read the novel. We picked up on details foreshadowing the plot twist, and we hope you see them too!
The Phenomenal Description Of Zither Music
We can’t discuss Joan He’s Strike The Zither without talking about the zither! It’s a stringed instrument with a beautiful sound and rich history. We absolutely LOVED the music sequences and how the zither represents something more than an instrument. It’s a form of storytelling. Zephyr and other strategists use it to reveal their motives, connect with the past, and connect with each other. If you weren’t a fan of zither music before, you will be by the end of the novel.
You should also know that romantic elements are sprinkled throughout the story, specifically, an enemies-to-lovers trope. And if you grew up watching Chinese historical dramas like My Fair Princess or Perish in the Name of Love, you’re bound to have fun reading Joan He’s Strike The Zither.
Strike The Zither comes out October 25th and is available for preorder here!