Book Reviews

Review: Strike the Zither by Joan He

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Joan He’s books. So when I saw Strike the Zither I may have screamed a little bit? Just a little okay? And I was not disappointed. If you love those extremely clever heroines who make you feel not as smart then this is for you! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


The year is 414 of the Xin Dynasty, and chaos abounds. A puppet empress is on the throne. The realm has fractured into three factions and three warlordesses hoping to claim the continent for themselves.

But Zephyr knows it’s no contest.

Orphaned at a young age, Zephyr took control of her fate by becoming the best strategist of the land and serving under Xin Ren, a warlordess whose loyalty to the empress is double-edged—while Ren’s honor draws Zephyr to her cause, it also jeopardizes their survival in a war where one must betray or be betrayed. When Zephyr is forced to infiltrate an enemy camp to keep Ren’s followers from being slaughtered, she encounters the enigmatic Crow, an opposing strategist who is finally her match. But there are more enemies than one—and not all of them are human.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Zephyr is who I want to be when I grow up. She is clever, intelligent and just a tad ruthless. I seriously am so in awe not only of her mind – and the way she calculates necessary sacrifices – but also He for crafting her! If you’re a fan of those situations and characters who are backed into corner after corner and need to cleverly escape – this is for you! From the beginning, I loved the way He talks about this idea of protecting someone even when it seems like we’re hurting them.

When the ultimate act of protection is betrayal. All the times in which it feels like mercy and cruelty all wrapped into one. At the same time, while I loved Zephyr’s intelligence, you always have to wonder if this might just be the cat’s final life. If there’s a limit to the scrapes our favorite heroine can escape from. I have no knowledge with the Three Kingdoms which is an inspiration for Strike the Zither, so I could not predict ANY of the twists. And what twists they were.

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The messages within gifts, tokens, and poison. The world of Strike the Zither is one of backstabbing and underhanded maneuvers. And we love a good morally grey heroine! But my love for this book only increased as I kept reading. I can’t go into more details because it is some seriously spoiler territory. But if you are searching for a rich, complex, and action packed fantasy you have to read Strike the Zither. And when you’re done and finished screaming, you can join us in awaiting the sequel. Find Strike the Zither on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Do you have a favorite morally grey fantasy heroine?

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