I’m happy to bring you this blog tour post for The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao, the sequel to The Dragon Warrior! I really liked reading the first book, so it was great to delve into this world again. The Fallen Hero tour is brought to you by the amazing Caffeine Book Tours.
*A note: there may be mild spoilers for The Dragon Warrior since this book is its sequel!
Now onto celebrating The Fallen Hero! 🥳
Author: Katie Zhao
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Kids
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: 4 🌟
Content Warnings: abandonment, violence (battle context)
*I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. This does not affect my honest review.
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
Faryn Liu thought she was the Heaven Breaker, a warrior destined to wield the all-powerful spear Fenghuang, command dragons, and defeat demons. But a conniving goddess was manipulating her all along…and her beloved younger brother, Alex, has betrayed her and taken over as the Heaven Breaker instead. Alex never forgave the people who treated him and Faryn like outcasts, and now he wants to wipe out both the demons and most of humanity.
Determined to prevent a war and bring Alex back to her side, Faryn and her half-dragon friend Ren join the New Order, a group of warriors based out of Manhattan’s Chinatown. She learns that one weapon can stand against Fenghuang–the Ruyi Jingu Bang. Only problem? It belongs to an infamous trickster, the Monkey King.
Faryn sets off on a daring quest to convince the Monkey King to join forces with her, one that will take her to new places–including Diyu, otherwise known as the Underworld–where she’ll run into new dangers and more than one familiar face. Can she complete her mission and save the brother she loves, no matter the cost?
I read The Fallen Hero after rereading The Dragon Warrior (I read it more than a year ago—my memory isn’t that great😔), and let me tell you, I flew through this sequel.
Like in The Dragon Warrior, I really loved how The Fallen Hero delves into the complexities of family. There are many families in The Fallen Hero, but they are all fractured in some way. The characters are often struggling to figure out who they are in their family.
As we found out at the end of The Dragon Warrior, Faryn’s younger brother Alex sided with the Jade Emperor, betraying his older sister. She witnesses a cruel side of her 弟弟 (didi) she thought she knew, and she sees him make decisions she never thought he would even think about making. Although the two are almost polar opposites of one another (especially morally), Faryn still loves Alex, regardless of his betrayal, and wants to protect him, even when she debates with herself whether she should or not.
Faryn’s struggle with abandonment permeates The Fallen Hero, and I feel like I empathized with her a lot more because I really understood those fears and realities. There is one scene when Faryn is in the Chamber of Mirrors in Diyu (the equivalent of the underworld in Chinese mythology) that struck a chord. Her fears and trauma is overwhelming.
At the same time there were some things that Alex said/believed in that made me so sad, but I also deeply understood. As mentioned in The Dragon Warrior, Alex finds out that he is not blood-related to Faryn. After that news in The Fallen Hero he struggles to understand who he is, and all he wants to do is find his blood-related family. I hope he comes to realize that you most definitely do not have to be blood-related to someone to be family.
On the family topic: I thought the father plotline could have been stronger. The end to this seemed rushed and it did not have the impact that I wish it could have had. It was resolved almost too easily, and I felt Faryn’s desire to be truly reunited with her father, but I wish there was more there.
Swerving a bit, but the plot! I don’t think I could ever get tired of the quest plot because sure the end goal is similar (lowkey save the world), but the journey is ALWAYS different. In The Fallen Hero, there are new characters (ex. Ashley and Jordan) and familiar faces. The part where they went to Diyu personally stood out more than their encounter(s) with the Monkey King, possibly because I could picture Diyu a lot more vividly and there were some great moments that took place here.
As with The Dragon Warrior, I really liked the focus on Chinese mythology, specifically the Monkey King. Also, the Hungry Ghost Festival is the deadline of Faryn & crew’s quest, and since I did not know about this festival prior to reading The Fallen Hero, it was neat to see what this festival is for and why it is important. It got me thinking about ancestors and knowing your history as well as understanding that your ancestors are there for you.
Lastly, I can’t write this review without mentioning the humor!! I love Faryn’s witty responses; sometimes I was like FARYN. There were moments I couldn’t help but chuckle because it was so sarcastic/dry/deadpan, and I greatly appreciate that kind of humor.
To conclude this review can I just say WILL THERE BE ANOTHER BOOK I HAVE QUESTIONS!!!
| FIND THE FALLEN HERO |
My heart has been wrenched out with this quote.
As someone who is a new lover of bubble tea, I’m glad to hear about this 😂.
I could barely choose which quotes I wanted to make graphics of through Canva, so I made three! And I wouldn’t have it any other way 😌.
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle grade manuscripts.
| FIND KATIE |
If you could read a middle grade fantasy/adventure about any culture, what would you choose?
Until next time,