Today, let's take a look a look at The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu.

Prophecies don’t make heroes: they only choose them. When Chosen One Jian falls short of his prophesied quest, he must find his own path to greatness.

The prophecy is clear: Wen Jian is the Chosen One, born to defeat the immortal Eternal Khan and save the kingdom. The only problem is that the prophecy is wrong.

Jian has been raised in splendor, trained by the best warriors, and celebrated before a single battle has been won. After all, he’s the chosen one, selected by prophecy to defeat the immortal god-king and free the kingdom for good. But when the prophecy is proven to be incorrect, Jian still has to find a way to succeed, and maybe even become a hero in his own right.

To save the kingdom, an unlikely band of heroes rise: Taishi, an old grandmaster who swore her days of battle were over; Sali, a warrior re-evaluating her allegiances; and Qisami, an assassin with questionable values. Together, the four embark on a journey more wondrous than any prophecy could forsee.

The Art of Prophecy - The War Arts Saga 1 (Hardback)
Wesley Chu (author)
Publisher: Daphne Press
Number of pages: 512

Jian is The Chosen One! The champion of the Five Under Heaven. Destined to be the great hero who fights the Immortal Khan and end the war with the never ending horde.

Right, stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before. 

That's what I thought too. However, I soon found that this was not the case.

I am not going to go into the plot much because this is one that definitely is a case of the less you know, the better.

The story centres around Jian, the Champion under Heaven, Taishi, a ducal advisor who is sent to assess the training of the prophesized hero and Sali, the Soul of the Khan, who also happens to be on the opposite side, but she's not evil. And she knows she's not evil because she did not kill that dog! Have you got it? She did not kill that dog (be aware that there is no actual harm to any animals)

I have to say, this book surprised me. In fact, it constantly surprised and confounded me. Never once did it actually go in any of the directions that I expected.

I thought this book was just wonderful with its mix martial arts, comedy, topsy turvy story and brilliant characters. 

Like I said nothing is expected. The champion of the Five under Heaven is a proper pain in the arse. Taishi is just amazing. She's an older woman who is gruff and dislikes everyone, but has a heart of gold. Not only that, she is a master of martial arts and an amputee, and Sali is equally as fascinating, and one of my favourite arcs in the story.

If, like me, you grew up on a diet of martial arts films as a kid, I think you will definitely enjoy this book as there is a definite ode to these kind of films.

Don't get me wrong, the book is not perfect, and, for me some of my criticism centres around the fight scenes as each and every move is named, which I found at times did get in the way of the action, and I promptly forgot what they were. 

The other thing that took me time to get to grips was the world building. The story takes place in an alternative China. I initially believed that it was a mediaeval, feudal China, but with the addition of some form of mechanisation. However, there is a scene later in the book which kind of changes my outlook, which seemingly changed the dynamic as it changed it to a 1930's kind of alternative China, albeit, still feudal, well, more warlord. 

I really enjoyed this book. The way it upended my expectations and made the Chosen One trope refreshing rather than feeling like it was treading old ground.


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