He Who Drowned the World

Hardcover, 400 pages

Published Aug. 22, 2023 by Tor Books.


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5 stars (1 review)

What would you give to win the world?

Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after her victory – one that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor.

However, Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial aspirations. Courtesan Madam Zhang plots to steal the throne for her husband. But scorned scholar Wang Baoxiang is even closer to the throne. He’s maneuverered his way to the capital, where his courtly games threaten to bring the empire to its knees. For Baoxiang also desires revenge: to become the most degenerate Great Khan in history. In the process, he’d make a mockery of the warrior values his Mongol family loved more than him.

To stay in the game, Zhu must gamble everything on one bold move. A risky alliance with an old enemy: Ouyang, the brilliant but …

2 editions

He Who Drowned the World

5 stars

I deeply enjoyed the conclusion to this duology. At times it was bleak and dark, but I feel like my thoughts on the first book continued to ring true in this book more than I had expected.

It's hard to talk about this without spoilers, but the thing I liked the most about this book is when it brings two characters together that are ostensibly similar to each other to highlight their differences. Zhu and Ouyang (both not men in their own way) go on adventures. Chen and Zhu (both pragmatically pursuing greatness) face off against each other. Ouyang and Wang (both focused on revenge) have a showdown. I just love seeing all these characters be such foils for each other.

The finale especially was satisfying emotional closure that brought all these main characters together. Even through sacrifice and suffering, there was more hope than I thought there might be. …