The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse – Review

Published: August 5, 2021

Publisher: JAB Books

Series: Pact and Pattern #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 370 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves . . .

I was offered an early copy of this book and once I looked at how crazy good the early ratings were I decided to give it a go. I have to say, The Hand of the Sun King is well deserving of the high praise it’s received thus far. 

The story follows Wen Alder from a young age, where it quickly becomes apparent his household is divided. His mother is Nayeni, a group of people who were recently brought into the imperial fold, and while she accepts this her mother does not and holds to the Nayeni traditions. Alder’s grandmother teaches him of the Nayeni culture and teaches him of their magic, for she wishes to keep their culture alive and thus names Alder Foolish Cur, after the Nayeni style of naming. The boy with two names grows into a man too curious after the nature of magic and too blind of the empire’s machinations. The reader gets to follow him in his journey to taste of the unbound magic he so recklessly used as a child and will watch as he both triumphs and fails along the way.

The Hand of the Sun King was a brilliant read and had several moments that really tugged on the heartstrings – an unexpected bonus to a great story. Alder is a character who’s easy to love, though I found myself thinking “no, you idiot” on many occasions. It was a believable naivete, rather than true stupidity most of the time so ultimately I enjoyed it even as I cringed for his choices. Though Alder is the main character, there is no shortage of excellent side characters to keep things fresh. I particularly liked his friends Oriole and Atar who both made him a better, more thoughtful person.

This was a great book and I’m really glad I picked it up when the opportunity arose. I initially wasn’t going to, though my only reason was that I thought I wouldn’t like it much. I’m glad to find I was very wrong about that! If you’re looking for an emotionally moving Asian-inspired fantasy that lacks the darkness of the Poppy War but not the action this might be something you’d like. Also, the cover alone is deserving of some love – the longer you look at it, the more you notice!

Currently Reading: 8/2/21

The Forever King by Ben Galley
I am SO glad I picked this up on a whim. It’s an absolutely fantastic epic fantasy and the narration is on point. Also, the sequel is coming out Tuesday so I can also immediately follow up with the sequel! 

The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse
I almost didn’t snag a copy of this when I had the chance, but I thought, “Why not?”. And that is why my TBR would fall on me if they were physical books. This has great ratings and I like the idea of a character who’s torn between the two sides of their family and who they support. 

Stacking the Shelves: 7/17/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!

Received for Review:

Blood of the Chosen by Django Wexler
Slowly but surely I’m acquiring exciting physical ARCs! I’m really looking forward to this sequel and don’t you just love that cover?? Thanks to Orbit for sending this!

Horseman by Christina Henry
A very exciting spooky read! The cover is fabulous and I’m thinking a Sleepy Hollow story is just what I need on my TBR. Thanks to Berkley for the eARC.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Herman
This is one of my most antcipated YA releases for 2021. I’m totally digging the books with villainous MCs. This is supposed to be a tournament to the death for control of a city’s magic supply. Thanks to Tor Teen for the eARC!

The Starless Crown by James Rollins
I’ve enjoyed Rollins’ thrillers in the past and I’m SO CURIOUS to see how he executes a fantasy novel! A student, a soldier, a thief, and a prince must all come together to claim the Starless Crown. Thanks to Tor Books for the eARC.

The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse
The publisher reached out and offered an eARC of this one, which I’ve had on my radar for a little while now. Decided to go ahead and grab a copy since the early reviews are so good!

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
OMG!!!! I have no self control and read the right after getting approved for it on NetGalley! It is a stellar sequel with one HELL of a cliffhanger ending! Many thanks to Del Rey for the eARC.

My Purchases:

Hooray! My copy of Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan has finally arrived! I back the Kickstarter and thus got it before it’s release to the general public – can’t wait to check it out. I also picked up a hardcover copy of A Deadly Education since I loved it and the sequel immensely. And we’ve got a lovely plant guide — Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast

As always, I picked up a few more audiobooks since the last haul as well. I finished up the Clocktaur War duology with The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher. I decided I needed to re-read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch since it’s been awhile and dang, the audio narration is on point. I also snagged Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Mellow which is supposed to be a really good fantasy romance.