Joan He’s Kingdom of Three

Joan He’s Kingdom of Three duology concludes with the release of Sound the Gong. This tale is a re-imagining of the Chinese mythological tale of the Three Kingdoms.

It begins with Strike the Zither where we meet Zephyr, an orphan who took fate into her own hands to become one of the leading strategists in the kingdom for the warlordess, Xin Ren. Under Xin Ren, she seeks to create alliances with other factions for the wars that are forthcoming. She will betray someone in order to reach her end game, to make Xin Ren the empress.

Sound the Gong is the conclusion to this story.

Strike the Zither

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 hope 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.

Sound the Gong

All her life, Zephyr has tried to rise above her humble origins as a no-name orphan. Now she is a god in a warrior’s body, and never has she felt more powerless.

The warlordess Xin Ren holds the Westlands, but her position is tenuous. In the north, the empress remains a puppet under Miasma’s thumb. In the south, the alliance with Cicada is in pieces.

Fate has a winner in mind for the three kingdoms, but Zephyr has no intentions of respecting it. She will pay any price to see Ren succeed―and she will make her enemies pay, especially the enigmatic Crow. What she’ll do when she finds out the truth. . . Only the heavens know.

Review of the Series

If I could pitch this book, it would be Mulan meets the Celestial Kingdoms. The focus of Mulan’s story would center around the battles and war efforts. Place this in a fantasy world where women are allowed to fight. They can become generals. They can lead armies and become warlords. But then, let’s take out the ancestors part of this story and replace them with celestial gods. Next, let’s throw this all into a retelling of the Three Kingdoms.

Now, let’s create an ongoing chess match being played out between warlords, and each has a strategist whispering in their ear. Throw in a bit of a love story between two strategists from warring parties, Zephyr and Crow, and we have the elements that compose this story.

Just for clarification in the comparisons between Mulan and the story of the Three Kingdoms, the Three Kingdoms took place between 220-280AD. Mulan (a folk heroine) existed sometime in the 4th century, long after the story of the Three Kingdoms. This story takes place in 414 AD.

Strike the Zither starts right off within the fields of war. A betrayal. And Zephyr is in the middle of it all. This is her strategy to change what fate has determined in order to make her warlordess the next empress. But I will warn you, don’t get too attached to Zephyr. She dies.

Crazy, right? She dies.

But isn’t this story about her? Yes, it is.

There’s more than one book about her. So how in the world does this get drawn out if she died?

Those celestial gods. I tell ya. They are not supposed to meddle in the affairs of humans, but every now and again, they do. In particular, Zephyr meddles in those affairs.

I’ll leave the review at that. I’ll be honest, when the celestial kingdom became part of the story, that is when I became interested in the story. I love stories about the gods. I’m not into the fighting or the war part of this book (which was literally the whole thing). Oddly enough, I perked up when Zephyr died. That is when the story had my full attention. Which, I know, is completely weird. But that is where the story really began for me.

Sound the Gong releases today (04.30.2024). You can purchase the duology in the and Amazon Bookshop link in the Shop Menu above.