Today’s review is for Sound the Gong, sequel to Joan He’s 2022 story Strike the Zither, and the final instalment in the Kingdom of Three duology.
Strike the Zither was one of my favourite reads from 2022, so I had pretty high expectations for its follow up! It didn’t disappoint in the slightest though, it had all of the appeal from book one with (somehow) even more of an emotional kick to the guts. I cried, a lot, and wholeheartedly recommend this duology! It’s a definite new favourite.
Read on for my full review! (Be wary if you haven’t read book one, but I’ll keep spoilers as limited as I can!)
About the Book
Title: Sound the Gong
Series: Kingdom of Three #2
Author: Joan He
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
Release Date: April 30th 2024
Source: eARC gifted by the publisher for being on the street team! (This in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased) and I’ve preordered a personalised copy
From New York Times and Indie bestselling author Joan He, comes the dazzling and sweeping conclusion to The Kingdom of Three duology, Sound the Gong, the breathtaking sequel to the critically-acclaimed Strike the Zither.
All her life, Zephyr has tried to rise above her humble origins as a no-name orphan. Now she is a god in a warrior’s body, and never has she felt more powerless. Her lordess Xin Ren holds the Westlands, but her position is tenuous. In the north, the empress remains under Miasma’s thumb. In the south, the alliance with Cicada is in pieces.
Fate also seems to have a different winner in mind for the three kingdoms, but Zephyr has no intentions of respecting it. She will pay any price to see Ren succeed—and she will make her enemies pay, especially one dark-haired, dark-eyed Crow. What she’ll do when she finds out the truth—that he worked for the South all along…
Only the heavens know.
Sound the Gong kicks off after the tumultuous events of book one, where Zephyr essentially has several plans foiled thanks, in part, to Crow. Zephyr is struggling with her sole purpose, to help Ren rise as the rightful ruler of the land, and it is particularly proving difficult in Lotus’ former body.
Regardless of the body Zephyr is in though, rest assured that her huge ego almost always remains apparent. Following the dream sequence we get her first reminder of this, how sure she is of her chance of success, even if she never quite thought to master fighting like Lotus had.
A strategist through and through, book two continues with plans aplenty. Crow is still Zephyr’s main point of contention, and she is hellbent on getting her comeuppance after book one. Honestly though, one thing that stands out the most is how much she can’t help but still admire him. But, as Crow would do anything for his lordess, Zephyr will always do what must be done for her lordess. They are perfectly matched in the majority of ways such as that.
We have more found family elements to book two as well; though the group gets a little smaller in some ways it grows in others, with two notable additions being Sikou Hai and Cicada. Sikou Hai’s reverence of Zephyr is endearing in every encounter, he’s like a little puppy who is just so excited to become her apprentice strategist! And Cicada is an absolute twist when she comes in, but I won’t spoil how or why. She definitely grew on me through.
My heart hurt several times reading this story though, because throughout the entire duology one things stands above all else; Zephyr truly cares for the main group of characters. She’s ready to sacrifice everything to see them happy and really, she just truly wants to be with them and remain as a friend and confidant, in whatever form she can.
‘If we could all choose who to be, I’d want to be them.’
The Kingdom of Three is essentially a story that has you reading as intently as possible, it’s heavy on the strategy but you don’t realise so much as you can’t help but keep on reading to see how things pan out for this lovable group of characters (and you’ll read faster hoping to see Miasma’s downfall, of course). I won’t spoil the ending, but I honestly thought it was simultaneously heart-wrenching and beautiful.
All-in-all, if you enjoy either wuxia or xianxia drama just go pick up book one now, and thank me after reading book two.
Have you preordered this?
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