Review published on August 2, 2013.Reviewed by jj redfearn
Nudge Reviewer Rating:
With the Aubrey-Maturin series, the Foundation Trilogy or even the Lord of the Rings, starting with one of the middle books is fine. Less so with the Wheel of Time. Starting with book six of Chung Kuo is decidedly less so. No matter how compelling, inspiring or broad ranging the series, as a stand-alone this one’s a dud. If you’ve read the series from the start it might fit in perfectly, expanding and extending the timeline and adding depth and subtlety to the characters. But I haven’t, so it doesn’t.
Its nicely written, a quite real world with Trantor- or Coruscant-like cities covering vast areas of the planet hiding and ignoring the remains and ruins beneath. There are convoluted power-plays and assassination attempts, research activities aimed at turning people into remote controlled weapons or slaves and a few other bits of technology, especially art technology, around, but all of that is incidental.
Its very much a book about people, their thoughts and behaviours, set in a Westernized-Chinese controlled society and focussed on the power-plays amongst seven dynastic families. It could as easily have been set in the past as the future of 2206.
My recommendation? Don’t start with this one. Go back and find the first of the series and read from there.