by Joan He
Publication: October 25, 2022
Series: Kingdom of Three #1
**I received a copy of the book from Books Forward and Fierce Reads through NetGalley. I also received a finished copy as well. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Strike the Zither is filled with political intrigue as Zephyr tries to ensure victory for her warlordess, Xin Ren. As a strategist, Zephyr lacks the physical prowess of a warrior, but a keen mind makes her a formidable opponent with the ability to defeat enemies despite the odds against her. Zephyr’s strategic maneuvers were some of my favorite parts of the story, showcasing how physical strength is not the only way battles are won. It’s also the significance He places on the zither and the role it plays that I especially loved.
While I enjoyed the book and am now eagerly awaiting the next installment, I nearly gave up in the beginning. The first half of the book was confusing because Zephyr’s introduction was made in the middle of Ren trying to avoid a confrontation with Miasma, a warlordess vying for the throne, and her forces. There were glimpses into Zephyr’s past while she was also trying to figure out Ren’s next moves. These jumps, while pivotal to understanding Zephyr’s motivations, made it difficult to follow what was going on in the present. It was not until the second half, when things slowed down and the emphasis shifted from action to the characters, that I became fully invested in the outcome of the characters.
Some patience is required to sort through the beginning, but the twists and the emphasis on themes of loyalty and sisterhood make the book well worth it. Fans of fantasy and political intrigue will enjoy Strike the Zither, whether or not they are familiar with the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.