I call this an “aborted” review because I didn’t finish the book. That shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the quality of the writing. I set the book aside unfinished because of my principles (or, if you prefer, my prejudices).
I’ve already reviewed The Grace of Kings, the first book in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series of fantasy novels. Think Game of Thrones but in a sort of Chinese setting, and somewhat less nihilistic. I enjoyed that book immensely, and gave it a glowing review.
Wall of Storms is also a brilliant piece of world-building and storytelling. The world of the book is wonderfully imagined, intriguingly detailed, and multifaceted. Author Liu is a fine prose stylist. His writing is evocative, his characters complex and layered, and his dialogue sparkling and nuanced.
What I didn’t like was the political correctness. Early on we are confronted with not one, but two homosexual relationships, treated as normal in the culture. Later on, an important (and highly sympathetic) character argues for sexual egalitarianism.
I suppose I lack imagination, but I think fantasy ought to hew close to actual human nature, however much it may play with the cultural furniture. No human society has ever normalized homosexual marriage before ours did it (artificially, through legal maneuvering), and no human society has ever treated men and women interchangeably. This element of the story was plainly adopted by the author to ingratiate himself to right-thinking readers. So I don’t imagine he’ll miss my readership.
I’ll be seeing more and more of this sort of thing as time goes on, I’m sure. But (at least for now) nobody can force me to finish a book that’s obviously trying to correct my thinking.
Otherwise, it’s a really good book. You may love it.