Verdict: THE SHONG WARS: DECLARATION is a fascinating fantasy story that explores the richness of the world and Asian culture.
Zhang Ma is a young prince of a fierce Mongol warrior tribe known as the Shong. His life is turned upside-down when his adoptive father King Yun orders him to kidnap a young girl named Hua, who is believed to hold the key to world domination. Unfortunately, Zhang has to decide whether or not he should risk everything for Hua, or stay true to his adopted clan.
THE SHONG WARS: DECLARATION avoids the usual fantasy tropes of being set in Western Europe, and having a Eurocentric set of beliefs. Instead,this tale is set in a world that is clearly inspired by a wide variety of different Asian cultures and beliefs.
THE SHONG WARS: DECLARATION is also unusual because the main hero Zhang Ma is not a stereotypical brawny white male. The protagonist is a sensitive young man who struggles with fitting into a very warlike society, and who acknowledges that there are better fighters than him. The main female protagonist Hua is also a rich character, her flaws and her strengths developed slowly over the course of the novel.
However, lesser characters, such as the antagonist Reign or Zhang’s companion Addie are relatively flat. Their backstories are teased in fascinating tidbits, but lack information about their motivations, and past.
The author’s knowledge of Asian culture and mythology allows him to bring Zhang’s world to life in a riot of color. This rings true, too for the fight scenes, packed with vivid action and detail.
THE SHONG WARS: DECLARATION is a fascinating fantasy story that explores the richness of the world and Asian culture.