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by Pierre Grimbert

3/4 stars

It’s the first of a series, so the end is not an end. That said, this is a thoroughly entertaining fantasy read with a nice central concept, good characters – a pleasant mix of well-wrought personalities that I cared about, I wanted to know what was going to become of them all. There’s plenty of myth and magic, but with with a light touch, none of the usual high-blown Fantasy nonsense.
It is rather slow to start and doesn’t pick up much pace along the way – which is fine if, like me, you enjoy a bit of world building and getting to know the characters. It keeps you reading, it keeps you thinking. My only true gripe is with the descriptions of time. The author has invented his own calendar and clock for his world. The calendar is rather fine, with Days of the Sun and Water and Owl and so on. Time in general is given in millidays, decidays, Dekades, and so on. There’s a glossary of terms that explains it all and… I appreciate this as part of Pierre Grimbert’s world building process, but I found it unnecessary and more than a bit irritating. It didn’t ruin the book for me, it’s not a `biggie’, but the thing would definitely have been better without it.
In short, The Secret of Ji is not the best fantasy novel I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed it, and would certainly read the next in this series.

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