The Fallen Hero continues the epic drama of The Dragon Warrior series as Faryn tries to find her place with the New Order based out of Manhattan’s Chinatown, only to discover that the gods aren’t done with her yet.
Still reeling from her younger brother’s decision from the end of her last quest for the gods, while working through her feelings regarding a father who has no memory of who she is, Faryn is having a hard enough time fitting in without the animosity of the prickly Ashley Liao, another young girl who, with her older brother Jordan, form a pair of outcasts similar to Faryn’s own situation growing up with the Jade Society out west. Luckily, Ren is still by her side… until he tells her one day that his destiny lies in learning to control his dragon heritage under the tutelage of the Dragon Kings. Alone and anxious, Faryn has no intention of stepping up when the gods Guanyin, Nezha and Erlang Shen show up with another hero’s quest. But Xiong, the leader of the New Order, makes a stirring plea, and so she and the Liao siblings find themselves heading west in search of another weapon to rally the gods. Along the way, they’ll have to attempt to enlist the aid of the Monkey King himself, and travel to the depths of Diyu and back. But at what cost?
I loved how Katie Zhao incorporated more aspects of Chinese mythology into this action-packed sequel. While I was already pretty familiar with Sun Wukong, the perils of Diyu were entirely new to me, so it really felt like a wholly fresh landscape for me to explore alongside our heroes. I also really loved the emphasis on family, carrying over from the previous book. As with TDW, however, there were odd lapses in logic (e.g. the whole thing about New Order warriors retiring at 18 was about the dumbest reason I’ve read for an age limit on a quest) and the dialog was occasionally unlikely at best, but this was made up for with lots of verve, suspense and humor, with parts making me laugh out loud at the collision of 21st century adolescent sensibilities with ancient mythologies.
I’m really glad Ms Zhao is bringing these books to the world, showcasing a young girl’s quest to save humanity from certain callous Chinese gods. I kinda hope it runs for more than three books tho, because there’s so much to be covered still in this series! Aside from saving humanity, Faryn still has to rescue her mother’s spirit and find out more about the Mediterranean side of her family, and what’s up with Alex’s parents, too?! There’s so much, and I’m eager to read it all!
The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao comes out today from Bloomsbury and is available from all good booksellers.