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“Han Empire – 196 CE Warlords rise and fall within the broken Han empire. Old names vanish from the land, while brazen leaders make their fame—none more so than Cao Cao, the once powerless lord who now controls the puppet court of the emperor.”

dynasty killersDynasty Killers is the third instalment in the gripping Three Kingdoms Chronicles, and it is easily my favourite book of the series so far. Full of action, political scheming, emotional turmoil, and brutal backstabbing and betrayals, this book had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Once again, the older Liao Hua takes us back in time to his younger years serving under Lord Cao Cao. In the previous instalment, we already saw him rising in rank and gaining more agency, but here he truly comes into his own. Slowly but surely, Hua (or Chun, at the time) starts to realise that the cause he is fighting for may not be as heroic as he thought it was. As the brutal and merciless war continues, his conscience starts to weigh on him more and more, and soon his loyalties are tested beyond belief.

I honestly think the character work in this series has always been stellar, but this was the first time I actually believed I was reading about real people. The character development is absolutely phenomenal and I was blown away by some of the surprising character arcs. 
Hua’s emotional turmoil in this book was just so compelling and I loved seeing him slowly start to doubt the heroic ideal that he has always been chasing. He is still young, relentlessly ambitious, and way too hot-tempered for his own good, but there were also way more moments of reflection and introspection, which I personally really appreciated.

 

I also really enjoyed the further development of the side characters and exploring all the complicated character dynamics. Whether it’s friendships, rivalries, familial bonds or even romances, every single interpersonal relationship here is just so complex, nuanced and painfully realistic. I think the author is really good at capturing human emotion, which got me very emotionally invested and made all the gut wrenching scenes hit all the harder.

And holy smokes, are there some hard hitting moments in here. This book is maybe a bit less military/war focused than the previous two instalments, but there are still plenty of brutal and bloody action scenes, including some of the most legendary historical battles. As I’ve said before, I am not the biggest fan of military-focused stories, but for some reason I found all the action scenes way more compelling in this instalment than ever before. Because of the slower pacing and improved character development, the stakes felt higher than ever before and I was fully emotionally invested.
Also, the political intrigue in this instalment was just extremely juicy and riveting. I loved seeing how seemingly small and well-intentioned actions can have immensely catastrophic ripple effects over time. And the schemes upon schemes, shifting alliances and brutal back stabbings and betrayals had me completely glued to the page. 

 

Now, for a story that is so focused on war, I really appreciate that all the fighting is never glorified, especially in this third instalment. In his narration, the older Hua makes sure to convey just how horrifying and devastating all the fighting and scheming was. I do think some scenes were awfully shocking, especially those involving the violation of women, though I also can’t deny that they fit the narrative and felt natural for the time and situation. Luckily the author doesn’t linger on those scenes and does a great job of exploring both the physical and emotional scars that are suffered, which only made the story more nuanced and impactful.

All in all, I am very impressed and satisfied with this continuation of the series and cannot wait for more. I read 200 pages of this book in one day because the author just completely sucked me in and I felt like I was fully transported back to Ancient China. And with the way this book left off, I am very curious to see how things are going to escalate, because chaos is brewing in both the past and present timeline.
If you haven’t yet started The Three Kingdoms Chronicles, I highly recommend you do so. This is historical fiction done right.

Thank you to the author for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This book is scheduled for release on August 10, 2023. 



Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Dynasty Killers

Esmay Rosalyne

Esmay is a self-proclaimed professional book devourer from The Netherlands. While (dark) fantasy will always have her heart, she is also a big indie/self-pub enthusiast and will probably read anything if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Or, you know, if it promises complete emotional destruction. When not reading books, she is probably reviewing books, talking about books, or watching videos of fellow bookworms talking about books.

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