This is a book that NPR tells you to just skip over– to read the second:
‘The Wall of Storms is an 852 page sequel to a 640 page book, so let me cut to the chase: It surpasses The Grace of Kings in every way, by every conceivable metric, and is — astonishingly — perfectly readable as a standalone. I loved it so much that I’d go so far as to say if you were intimidated by the size and scope of The Grace of Kings, you needn’t wait on reading it to dive into this one. Beginning several years after The Grace of Kings concludes, the focus is chiefly on a new generation of characters and how they deal with a fierce invading force from across the ocean, beyond the fabled Wall of Storms.’
Beyond that, I’ve seen reviews comment on the lack of female representation in the first book. If I’m going to read anything by Ken Liu, it’s not going to be this one, I guess.
I’m also curious to know why a debut novel got to keep so many pages. Liu clearly has an “in” somewhere in the industry letting him get away with what other debut authors cannot. And that speaks more for his networking skills than for his work. I want to read something of quality. Not of exclusivity.