Thorn of the Night Blossoms (Scions of the Black Lotus #1) by J. C. Kang – Book Review

Write on: Tue, 16 Jul 2019 by  in Archive Read 2983

J. C. Kang is a name I’ve seen circulating around. Fellow reviewers have mentioned The Dragon Songs Saga, praising the worldbuilding and characters, among other elements of that quadrilogy. It’s fair to say, I’ve been looking for the right time to pick up one of his works. When he contacted with the specific request that I review his latest in a series of novellas, the time seemed only right to carve out an hour and a half and get through what turned out to be a delightfully kinetic 93-page dive into a world reminiscent of medieval China…but with an exotic half-elf courtesan/spy taking the lead!

I do love those pointy-eared lads and lasses.

Thorn of the Night Blossoms is an excellent introduction to a world that’s beautiful and hideous in equal parts. This is best illustrated by “The Floating Wind”, the finest among many houses of pleasure both in its riches and in its finely trained girls. But the splendour and finery hide a cutthroat world of flesh peddling, information trade and manipulations both physical and magical in nature. The women of “The Floating Wind” are trained in the art of seduction from young girls but that’s far from the only skillset they learn; from a secret sign language to a myriad of abilities that would make a ninja blush, both in combat and outside it. 

Our half-elven main character is Jie, the finest (or at least, most talented) operative produced by the Black Lotus clan in recent years. To the eyes of the uninitiated, however, she’s a Floret, a young woman who is still a virgin. But even then, Jie is special; because of her exotic blood and looks, hers is the most valuable “virgin price” not only in “The Floating Wind” but in all the province.

Jie’s closest friend is Lillian, a girl a year younger but already the favourite concubine of the powerful provincial Lord Ting, whose influence and knowledge offer the Black Lotus clan access to information that’s far too valuable to take into account the feelings of one scared young girl. But Jie, though loyal to the clan, is looking for a way to save her friend from a life of pain and misery.  When someone tries to kill Jie, however, life gets even more complicated. Not knowing whether she’s the sole target of the assassination attempt or merely the victim of a first strike against the Black Lotus, Jie is forced to take things into her own hands. Mystery and murder make for magnificent mayhem, everyone!

Reading through the excellent action scenes, I was willing to bet that J. C. Kang knew from personal experience much of what he wrote about and no surprise, he is a martial artist. He’s got a firm grasp on the characters’ movements, on every blow they deliver, on every shot and slice they make. Kinetic is a word I’ve already used but it’s more than fitting for Thorn of the Night Blossoms.

My score for Thorn of the Night Blossoms is 4/5 stars on Goodreads! This is an excellent novella, and the first of at least five in a series, which I am curious to read. A mystery has been solved but another is left to be resolved later and I’m more than curious to see what trials Jie faces next.

You’ll want to read this if:

  • You’re looking for a work of fantasy that’s distinctly inspired by Asian-Chinese culture;
  • You’re looking for an excellent female protagonist;
  • remarkable action, well-described and engaging;
  • half-elven hotness! It costs loadsa $$$, apparently!
  • And more! Prob’ly.
Last modified on Tuesday, 16 July 2019 22:04
Filip Magnus

Filip picked up his first fantasy novel when he was seven and hasn’t stopped reading since. A critical reader who judges novels on their technical use of language and plot alike, he has a soft spot for literary fiction and tragic, heroic tales.

In his free time, Filip writes fiction, makes gaming reviews on YouTube, and maintains a personal blog. All that when he’s not too busy going through piles of books in as short a time as possible.