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Song of the Six Realms by Judy I. Lin

Song of the Six Realms (edition 2024)

by Judy I. Lin (Author)

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1144242,678 (3.75)None
Seventeen-year-old musician Xue faces a lifetime of servitude until Duke Meng offers her freedom in exchange for serving as a musician in residence, but Xue soon discovers the Duke is a celestial ruler with ulterior motives and she must unlock her past toprevent an impending war in the Six Realms.
Title:Song of the Six Realms
Authors:Judy I. Lin (Author)
Info:Feiwel & Friends (2024), 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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Song of the Six Realms by Judy I. Lin


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I really liked this book. I loved how detailed the world was and the music/poetry was incorporated beautifully. All the descriptions were just magical and I really liked the main character although I was often frustrated that she took soooo long to ask important, obvious questions. Something important would come up in conversation, but she would take several days/chapters to ask for more VERY relevant context. This really took me out of the story because it just felt so obvious that the only reason she took so long to bring up certain things was because it needed to happen at a certain time to make the plot work better which... I understand but found very frustrating.

There were also a few plot points that I felt weren't explained super well. I loved the magic of the world, but it felt like there were quite a few contradictions. Like, somebody who was once a celestial but isn't anymore is able to do something that only celestials can do and it isn't really explained. (I don't really get how the last magic tear was made if Elder Gao was no longer a celestial?) As the ending drew closer there were more moments like that for me where I just kind of gave up on understanding why the magic worked the way it did. Especially with the specifics in the ending and how the main threat was resolved... (I don't really understand why Jingling had to destroy Dreaming to win the fight against the Sovereign, especially if Xue is just going to rebuild it again after anyways? I had already figured out that Xue would become the next Duchess of Dreams around when they were talking about how very few have an affinity for it, so the foreshadowing in that respect felt right, but the actual logistics of why destroying the realm of Dreams would fix anything was not well explained. The whole last battle was kind of a blur. I thought the court politics and lore were built up well so I pretty much understood all of that part, but the magic was not explained nearly as well.) I understood what happened but the way it was explained was confusing and I didn't fully understand WHY it worked.

I also thought that the mystery surrounding what happened to Xue's uncle and her uncle's partner was not explained as well as I would have liked. The scene where they confront Chenwen, and ask what he did with her uncle and Jingling's shifu was super weird. Specifically, I just thought that Chenwen's reaction to being found out was kind of out of character. I understand that he was nervous that they would judge him for his demon powers, ability to control the ravagers, his real parentage, etc. so he didn't want to tell them that he sent the uncle and elder Gao to the demon realm (he would have to explain how), but the scene just felt awkward AND it made the memory they saw of what happened super... off. In the memory, the uncle and Elder Gao are obviously upset and asking Chenwen "why are you doing this/why must it be you" and Chenwen is just like it's "because you lied"... It's very vague and written in a way that sacrifices logic within the storyline to temporarily frame Chenwen as a villain. After all, if Chenwen just protecting them and sending them to the demon realm why would they react like that? Did he bring the ravagers with him to take them to the demon realm or did he save them from ravagers then take them to the demon realm? Why did he tell them it's "because they lied"? Does he mean they lied about who his real parents are? I would assume that's what he's talking about and why they said "we did it to protect you," but it's so obviously just written that way to be shocking. The whole situation is just... I don't think it was as well written as it could have been and I don't think it was a necessary misdirect anyways... I don't know, something about it all rubbed me the wrong way, it didn't really feel natural if that makes sense. I do want to say I understand that maybe they didn't think they needed protection and didn't want to go to the demon realm but EVEN SO this scene is weird given the context. ALSO even though I believe that Chenwen might not tell Jingling the truth out of... fear I guess it's really incredibly stupid of him. The ending basically says that Chenwen knew what was going on with the Sovereign and the corruption and that's why he sent the two to the demon realm to protect them. In that case WHY NOT TELL JINGLING??? And his fiance for that matter?? He said he trusts them with his life? The only reason he doesn't tell them is because he's worried about how they'd react about being a demon. That WHOLE plot line is like... ugh. It's especially annoying because that's like the main plotline of the story. Yeah there's the whole plot with Jingling's ex-fiance and his father and the court but the first mystery that's introduced is what happened to Xue's uncle. In the end it turns out that that mystery was basically just a vessel to get Xue involved in the other main plot in the celestial realm. I just find that frustrating... Alll that being said, I would still recommend the book. Overall, it was quite lovely. ( )
  ZetaRiemann | Jun 6, 2024 |
A very satisfying fantasy. ( )
  sennebec | Jun 2, 2024 |
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
Listed at the start of the ARC by the publisher:

mentioned death of family members
fantasy violence

Xue’s past is marked by a tragedy that left her orphaned and her family name struck from memory in an ancient custom. Taken in by her uncle, he does everything he can to help Xue prosper in a society that treats her as lesser. She’s a talented musician, and he arranges an apprenticeship at the esteemed House of Flowing Waters, a house that provides entertainment from the most skilled entertainers in the kingdom.

While Xue is treated well at the House, her future is bleak. Unlike the other adepts, her low social status means that her only option is to play the qin for rich nobles. A life that would turn her love of music into one of servitude rather than letting her explore her music and travel. So when an unusual noble asks for her to perform for him several times, leading to him offering to buy her contract. It’s unexpected, but Duke Meng is offering Xue a future that she thought would never be possible. It’s a chance she has to take.

Xue has no way of knowing that the estate Duke Meng is taking to her isn’t in the mountains… it’s on the Celestial Plane, and he’s actually the Duke of Dreams, a Celestial who watches over mortal’s dreams. He needs Xue’s help, her music is the only thing that can help unlock secrets that will save the Six Realms from a malevolent evil.

In Song of the Six Realms, Lin has once again created a magical combination of East Asian folklore and fantasy. In the Book of Tea duology, tea and poison were the foundation of her world-building and in this new book Lin has focused on music, poetry and dreams. These themes suffuse every fibre of this book as Lin tells us Xue’s story, weaving her and Meng’s stories together along with their shared love of music and poetry.

This is a romance, however, it is one of many themes and sub-plots in Song of the Six Realms. If it isn’t something you’re a fan of, or like me, you can take it or leave it, then there is plenty more happening. Lin’s world-building is beautiful and filled with wonderful twists and turns that kept my interest piqued from start to finish. The only thing that kept this from being a four-star to me was that I felt the big reveal and related details were a little rushed.

Other than that, everything else was the quality I expected to find in a book by Judy I. Lin, with strong character writing, and backstories that drew me in at every turn. Song of the Six Realms is a must-read!

( )
  justgeekingby | May 3, 2024 |
SONG OF THE SIX REALMS by Judy I. Lin is a beautiful story that is almost lyrical in its prose. The entire narrative has an ethereal quality to it that, I feel, mimics Xue’s music. The romance between Xue and the Duke is sweet in its naivety. And it is lovely to watch Xue grow in confidence and strength as she learns to fight for herself. SONG OF THE SIX REALMS is a welcome break from all of the Eurocentric fairy tales that exist, and I will gladly read anything else Ms. Lin publishes. ( )
  jmchshannon | Apr 22, 2024 |
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Seventeen-year-old musician Xue faces a lifetime of servitude until Duke Meng offers her freedom in exchange for serving as a musician in residence, but Xue soon discovers the Duke is a celestial ruler with ulterior motives and she must unlock her past toprevent an impending war in the Six Realms.

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