Deluded Review – To the Sky Kingdom
About the Book To The Sky Kingdom
- Written by Tang Qi, translated by Poppy Toland
- 458 pages
- Published August 23rd 2016
From Goodreads: When the immortal Bai Qian finally meets her intended husband, the heir to the Sky Throne, she considers herself in luck—until an old enemy returns to threaten everything she holds dear…
Spanning a thousand years of tangled lives, To the Sky Kingdom is a story of epic battles, passion, evil, and magic. In its journey across worlds and time, it delves into the powerful forces that drive mortals and gods alike toward revenge, loyalty—and love.
When I saw To The Sky Kingdom on NetGalley, I must say that it immediately intrigued me. The cover was inspiring, and the blurb about immortals battling for love and passion sounded like a good combination, so I decided to take the plunge and give it a read.
Initially, I was a bit disturbed, because the first page in the book is a dramatis personae listing all of the characters. I wasn’t sure what to expect – would this be written like a play? Would there be so many characters that I wouldn’t be able to keep up? WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO? Luckily, neither of these turned out to be the case. The story is told in good old prose, and while there are different characters, it’s not too hard to keep track of who is who (especially if you’ve read books like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings – this is nothing). The only confusing part is that this story was originally penned in Chinese, meaning that a lot of the names are very foreign sounding and could be easily mixed up by us ‘Mericans who only know ‘Merican.
The book opens with this seeming fable about a young mortal who stole the heart of the immortal sky prince. Right from this prologue, I could tell the book would be told in dreamlike, mystical prose. Unfortunately, this tale ends in tragedy, as the mortal has her eyes taken out and she leaps to her death… or so it seems…
Anyway, on to the main story. There’s this immortal goddess named Bai Qian. She is kind of old for an immortal, pushing 140,000 years old, and she’s kind of betrothed to this guy called Ye Hua, who is half her age. Talk about major cougar. Anyway, she’s kind of a recluse and has basically spent the last 70,000 years living in her family’s complex. But don’t let that fool you’ve – she’s lived an interesting life. She spent thousands of years living as a boy and even entered into a “homosexual” relationship with her lover. Oh, and she wasn’t always an immortal – she began life as… a fox!
This whole set up is already so intriguing. The way that she casually talks about spending a thousand years in training or a thousand years in seclusion makes everything seem so ethereal and illusive, and in a way, almost humorous. She does mention several times that she has grown tired of her life, but she doesn’t seem as dreary and worn as other books I’ve read featuring immortal characters.
I also love the way this story is written. The language and prose isn’t exactly masterful, but somehow it is spellbinding and mesmerizing. The whole tale is told in a simplistic language, as if it were a real myth or legend of the past. Even the simple way in which mystical places and things are introduced with no real explanation, such as the Purple Light Palace or how night pearls can light the darkness, is somehow enchanting. These mysterious mentions make the immortal world seem much more real, and as if the reader has been granted visitor’s access for a short while.
As the story continues, Bai Qian meets her fiancee, who is immediately taken to her. This might sound cliche, but without giving away too much, it is entirely appropriate and not at all cliche. His young son also adores her and instantly begins calling her Mother. The story revolves around their courtship and the dramas that intertwine all of the immortals.
Honestly, this story was so unique, I’d rather not go too much into detail about the plot so it is still refreshing if you decide to read it. Sometimes I really enjoy reading translated books for this reason – people from other cultures always have a unique story to tell. And the ending – it was a page turner. I had to speed read all the way to the last page in order to satisfy my beating heart.
Overall, there are some parts that dragged, and I do think the story could have been crafted a little better. But as a whole, To The Sky Kingdom was a magical escape from mundane reality. The twisted lives of the immortal characters and their dramatic adventures will entice you and make you wish you could be a part of this inventive world.