In One Word

In One Word, Descendent of the Crane by Joan He is…

descendent of the crane

  • Published in 2019 by Albert Whitman & Company
  • Format: Audiobook
    • Narrator: Nancy Wu
    • Listening Speed: 1x
  • Listening time: 7 befuddling days


  • Certainly wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I added it to my TBR ages ago and I honestly can’t remember why. It escaped my recent cull, however, because I needed a book with a bird on the cover for my Golden Trio Reading Challenge. This fit the bill but, unfortunately, I couldn’t find an affordable physical copy so I had to settle for an audiobook, even though I’m not very fond of the narrator’s previous work.


  • Opens with Princess Hisana of Yan attending an illicit meeting with a sooth, a magician who would be sentenced to a terrible death if their talents or their trademark burning blood were discovered, to find out how she can find out who murdered her father. With the information, she approaches Akira, a convicted criminal who is unexpectedly brilliant in the court room, to investigate. Standing in her way is a court entrenched in corruption, distrust of her own family and the threat of war and civil unrest never far away. Hesana may be the new Queen but her hold on the Kingdom looks ready to slip away any moment.


  • Nice job of showing just how deeply corrupt the court is in each of the trial scenes. Hesana and Akira really have to fight to get anything close to due process every time and it feels like they are the only ones who want to see justice done. The book also shows this by starting each chapter with two quotes from the Tenets, an important in-world historical text, which, in several cases, contradict themselves. The task of rising above it and trying to direct the kingdom in a more positive direction feels almost impossible but what certainly isn’t impossible is cheering on Hesana’s efforts to outmanoeuvre the corrupt officials. She’s determinedly optimistic and committed to leading her kingdom to a better tomorrow. If only her kingdom would cooperate…


  • Flat narration doesn’t help me. It’s the same narrator as The Red Threads Of Fortune and the same problems are prevalent. I definitely would have enjoyed this more if I’d read a physical copy, I think. It’s a shame because what I could pick up of the style is very good.


  • Understanding this world was a bit of a struggle for me. I wish there had been a bit more world building. The reader is informed of a long-held enmity towards sooths and of barely maintained peace with neighbouring countries but, other than that, we don’t get much. Or, maybe, I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. I definitely need to read up on Chinese culture as some of the names, titles and traditions had me confused.


  • Story had a bit too much involved to get a focus on anything. The main thread was Hesana and Akira’s uphill struggle to find the King’s killer but there’s also holding back a neighbouring country determined to declare war and appeasing a populous with an absolute and unreasonable hatred for sooths. Hesana may be the Queen but it always feels like her authority is hanging by a thread. One false move and she’ll be brought down in flames. Several times, it felt like the story had forgotten the main plot and only remembered again a few chapters down the line.


  • I liked Hesana and Akira a lot and they definitely got some good character development. Akira was most definitely the most memorable because of the mystery of his past and how he came to have such a sharp mind. Hesana, however, got some great moments as she was constantly forced to choose between her own ideals and the most politically expedient option. The others got some decent development too but they weren’t as memorable.


  • Not expecting the last part to take such a surprising turn nor did I expect it to be so depressing. It’s one of the reasons why the rating was so low. It was very unsatisfying after seeing Hesana go through so much only to find out what was really going on behind the scenes. An undercurrent of hopelessness tugs the ending down and leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I know it’s shallow but a bad ending really does sour a book for me.


  • Got rather surprised by the cliffhanger but I’m not sure if it was a good one. It certainly felt like the author had run out of page space and just stuffed all the key revelations into one epilogue. If there is a sequel, I don’t think I’ll be picking it up. Or, if I do, I’ll definitely being picking up a physical copy.

Goodreads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Did you agree with my rating? Can you think of a better word to describe it? Please let me know with a like, share or comment.

4 thoughts on “In One Word, Descendent of the Crane by Joan He is…”

    1. Yeah, it was a real shame. The most annoying thing was that a paperback version came out in the UK not long after I finished the audiobook! I might have enjoyed it a lot more if I had just been patient and waited for that version!


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