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Ken Liu Books In Order

Publication Order of Dandelion Dynasty Books

The Grace of Kings (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wall of Storms (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Ken Liu is a bestselling speculative fiction author who has won a range of prestigious awards including a World Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula award as well as several other awards in France, Spain, and Japan. Liu’s debut novel was “The Grace of Kings,” which is the first of “The Dandelion Dynasty” series that he loves to refer to as the silkpunk epic fantasy series. Before he became a bestselling author, he was writing short fiction and made his name with “The Paper Menageries and Other Stories” which was so huge that it was published in more than twelve languages. He is also the author of “The Hidden Girl and Other Stories” and “The Legends of Luke Skywalker” of the “Star Wars” series. With his works so popular, Ken has been approached to adapt his novels into different media. He has been involved in adapting his works into series such as “Loe, Death + Robots” that was an adult animated series on Netflix. He also adapted several of his short stories into “Pantheon,” a TV series that is executive produced by Craig Silverstein and airs on AMC. “The Grace of Kings” and “Hidden Girl” have also been optioned and are set to be adapted into TV series.

Before he became a professional author, Liu was a litigation consultant, corporation lawyer and software engineer. He still speaks in universities and conferences on a range of topics including the mathematics of origami, futurism, bookmaking, cryptocurrency, and the history of technology among other topics he has an expertise in. He is also a translator and famously translated “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin, “Folding Beijing” and “Vagabonds” by Hao Jingfang and “Waste Tide” by Chen Qiufan. He also edited an anthology of contemporary Chinese science fiction titled “Invisible Planets and Broken Stars.” He currently lives with his family on the outskirts of Boston Massachusetts.

Ken Liu first got interested in science fiction and fantasy when he read the Chinese version of Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” He though it a fascinating tale and soon after he started thinking of becoming an author. He was in college when he began writing manuscripts and submitting to science fiction magazines such as “Analog,” “F&SF,” and “Asimov’s.” Liu never had much success until he submitted his work into a Phobos fiction contest, where he was among the first to win their inaugural contest and get his debut story published. He asserts that he never set out to write some magical story about his ancestral home in China. He believes that it is impossible to write a story about China that will sell given that there are a lot of stereotypes about China in the West, which makes publishing anything fresh difficult. In his “Dandelion Dynasty” series, he writes stories inspired by East Asia in general and about China in particular though there is no direct analogy. His stories are set in the fantasy world of Dara, which is a place of technology and magic floating on an archipelago. Trying to write something analogous to Steampunk, he calls his new series Silkpunk. Just like steampunk extends Victorian-era aesthetics and technology, silkpunk is inspired by the technology and aesthetics of classical China. As such, it includes technologies such as powerful mechanical vehicles, military kites for signaling alongside the magical such as books that can read minds, giant sea beasts and the use of smoke to read what is in people’s hearts. There is also the use of technologies such as giant airships propelled by air oars, underwater boats and battle kites.

“The Grace of Kings,” the first novel of “The Dandelion Dynasty” series by Ken Liu introduces the silkpunk genre. The story is an epic fantasy tale that follows several characters though the leads are Mata Zyndu and Kuni Garu. The two characters lead a rebellion against the dictatorial Emperor Mapiere who had proclaimed himself Emperor and ruled with an iron fist from the start of the story. At the beginning of the story, Kuni and Mata are young boys living in a harsh landscape that has been ravaged by war. The emperor just got into power and he has yet to consolidate his power though he has shown a ruthless streak by severely crushing any signs of rebellion. Kuni is a young man that is the hope of his family though he insists on joking, playing around and drinking instead of making something of himself. The orphan Mata had a less fortunate upbringing as he was born to a family that once ruled a large domain but had been dispossessed in the new dispensation. The new emperor had killed all of his family and taken their lands and he had been forced to live with his only remaining uncle who did not have the money to provide him with an elite education let alone the lavish lifestyle. Over the course of the novel, Mata and Kuni grow into young men and overcome a range of challenges to prove their strength of character and will, which makes them leaders of men. While they have had vastly different experiences, they soon become fast friends and are united in their quest to bring down the tyrannical emperor.

Ken Liu’s “The Wall of Storms” is a novel that tells a story of adaptation and transformation. The kingdom of Dara still faces conflicts and challenges that come in a range of guises. The fight has expanded to include conflicts not only of flesh and blood foes but also between concepts and philosophies. The war is still on and while Kuni Garu and his friend had managed to overthrow the emperor and rule in his stead, things are not so rosy. The first part of the novel is an analysis of how the conflicts persist even though more focus is now on the scholarly methodologies rather than on the arts of war. At the start of the novel, Fara, Timu, Thera and Phyro who are Emperor Kuni’s children have snuck out of the palace to go to the local tavern where they can enjoy life as ordinary people. The storyteller at the tavern tells stories about the tumultuous relationship between Mara Zyndu a respected and deceased warlord that had always been at loggerheads with Kuni Garu. But then things go awry when one man in the crowd accuses the narrator of sedition for glorifying the emperor’s one-time bitter rival Zyndu. Thankfully, a new character who will play a significant role in the novel steps forward to defend the storyteller and prevent a dangerous escalation.

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