4 out of 4 stars
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Four powerful Tiger Generals have protected China from the barbarians who threaten from outside the Great Wall. But what defenses will they have against an enemy that intends to strike from within those borders? An army of traitors searches for the elusive Red Crest, and the turmoil surrounding that quest is quickly evolving into a civil war.
Mu Feng, son of Tiger General Mu, has heard rumors of the search for the Red Crest but lacks the military experience needed to aid in defense of his home city. When an evil plot leaves his best friends dead and his sister in the hands of the enemy, Feng must learn the secret of the Red Crest and discover a way to defend all of China from a deadly foe.
The Orchid Farmer's Sacrifice is a Chinese historical fiction novel with fantasy elements by Fred Yu. I loved how this opening novel in the Red Crest series was full of exciting action scenes, various fighting styles, and engaging military strategies. The author provided an excellent protagonist with enormous potential. Feng is a spoiled brat with a lot to learn, and I loved following along with his internal struggles as the external factors kept pounding away at him. I laughed at his tendency to stick to his preference of fine clothes and wine even though his circumstances often forced him to wear discarded or bloodied peasant clothing to accomplish his goals. Still, Feng did what it took to learn to survive and use his natural ability to strategize while applying the new skills he learned in ingenious ways.
When it came to the female cast, Yu did not falter. The women of the Venom Sect, an organization that uses poison as their weapon of choice, were quick-witted and unafraid of getting their hands dirty in a fight. I loved how these women were loyal to their cause as they instructed Feng in their culture and way of life. The skills they taught him were just a few of Feng's incorporated techniques, and I was impressed with how the author used Feng's growing list of resources to help him find the answers he sought.
Occasionally, I became as frustrated as Feng about the lack of answers, but in the end, the author rewarded me with the information that I desired. The conclusion was satisfying with its revelations and provision of new information. With excellent worldbuilding and storytelling throughout the book, I'm incredibly excited about the sequel. In the meantime, I plan to dive into the prequel to gain additional insight about a couple of characters introduced later in the novel.
I did not spot any errors in this well-edited book, and I gladly give it four out of four stars. I'd highly recommend The Orchid Farmer's Sacrifice to readers who love Asian fiction, martial arts, and military strategy. The use of poison as a weapon and the nature of the battle sequences included gory depictions of the results, but there was no course language or sexual content throughout the book.
The Orchid Farmer's Sacrifice
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