The Hand, The Eye and the Heart read along #ThTEandTHReadalong

Zhilan was assigned female at birth; despite an unusual gift for illusions, they know they will live out their life in the perfumed confines of the women’s quarters. But when civil war sets the country aflame, Zhilan is the only one who can save their disabled Father from death on the battlefield.

By taking his place.

Surviving brutal army training as a male recruit – Zhi – is only the first challenge. Soon Zhi’s unique talents draw them into an even more perilous fight, in the glittering court of the Land of Dragons, where love and betrayal are two sides of the same smile. The fate of an Empire rests on Zhi’s shoulders. But to win, they must first decide where their loyalty, and their heart, truly belongs.

Chapter 1:

OMFG. Seriously. Can we just talk about the opening paragraph?!!! How does Zoë Marriott manage to always craft such a perfect beginning?

Disclosure time: I am super excited each time there is a new Zoë Marriott book but also utterly terrified. I am a Fangirl. I will happily admit this. I fawn/swoon/flail over these stories in a way I rarely do with books. So new book = petrified. Because? My expectations are so high. What if this one doesn’t deliver?! BUT then Zoë Marriott throws out that opening and you know it’s going to be AMAZING!!!

Ok… sooo-

I’m there. I’m there. Ok who else is there?

“black narrow corridors” The moonlight? The terror?

It’s good to know that Zoë’s mastery of crafting words to transport you into the story so effortlessly is still as excellent as always.
(Expect plenty more world building swoons as we progress)

 

Oh…

Chapter 2:

I’d call this the settings chapter. It continues straight after Chapter 1 but then expands nicely into providing context as to why the events in Chapter 1 happened; politics and family history, etc. Look at me not giving anything away…

 

Little concerned about Zhi’s father’s “training” method’s. Just throwing that out there. :/

 

Oh, my tea is cold… Must make another.

Chapter 3:

10 years later…

Zhi is now ready to be… Our hero? We don’t know. There isn’t anything about the training having continued. I am irked. I am irked for other reasons. There is a lot of reiteration in regards to the low value of being a woman, despite the female emperor. Having your parents and society basically confirm that being born a girl is a massive let down is just a mind-f*ck. I am feeling for Zhi.

We all know what decision Zhi makes following the call to war. I mean it’s the premise of the book. They take their fathers place (this is not a spoiler). I am interested to see the “how” though…

Also tea. I meant to do that.

 

Chapter 4:

Oh I did not see that coming. Did you?

Side note: I have tea.

 

Chapter 5

I like this, very much. Yes let this be how it goes….

 

Chapter 6

This is good. Isn’t this good? Who else is super happy about this twist for Zhi joining the army?

Admittedly there is a part of me that wanted to see (read) the conversation between Zhi’s parents because all the fireworks but apart from that I’m really pleased. It doesn’t change the danger of what they’re doing by taking they’re father’s place but at least Zhi’s not completely isolated in this decision.

So in this chapter we meet two new characters. Yes I am treating the horse as a character. I imagine Yulong to be like the horse from Tangled (except the whole dog thing). Very animated, super clever and hopefully a bit part of the story.

We also meet Yang Jie. He’s strong and “a boy” based on Zhi’s description. How will he slot into this story? Thoughts? Notions?

 

Side query: I am bothered by this General Leopard and his army just being evil. Anyone else? I feel like its too simple/easy.

 

Chapter 7:

Oh Zhi….

I’m Liking Yang Jie. And my assumption is that Captain Lu is going to make regular appearance to infuriate me.

 

Chapter 8:

The fun begins… This is a chapter of inadvertent missteps and their consequences.

Zhi is in the spotlight. Captain Lu is none too pleased and I am back to questioning training methods.
*mini spoiler alert* We haven’t even started the training yet but were already depriving food?

 

I’m thinking the next few chapters will be very interesting… You?

Chapter 9:

Emergency insert for outrage!!! Chapter isn’t finished, but I’m not even through Captain Lu’s speech and I LOATHE that man. That vile, despicable, disgusting- *swearing has been censored* If he ends up dead I will not feel bad. Dear Zoë Marriott please do not make him be someone I have to feel bad about because he is vile and horrid….

The above outrage will make sense when you read the top of p113.

 

A little later.

I have now finished the chapter. My opinion of Captain Lu stands. He is repulsive.

 

There is no Li Shang “I’ll Make Make a Man..” training montage here. Yes, I’ll admit it. I kinda hoped for that. I know that Disney’s Mulan is flawed beyond but I still love it.

Oh and shout out for periods! It’s nice to have the crappiness of periods acknowledged in books.

 

Chapter 10:

Three months have passed and oooooh so many things.

 

I am really hopeful re Yang Jie. All signs indicate that he is a good friend. There are little hints that there are secrets we are still to find out but I don’t see anything that means he’ll be disloyal to Zhi.

Captain Lu is still awful.

 

We are now introduced to Wu Jiang, Young General, Golden Boy…. The descriptive introduction really only needed an orchestral fanfare.

 

Chapter 11:

The opening of this chapter was a bit like a pissing match of male ego. There could be context, we don’t know. What we do know is that Zhi ends up a pawn in the power play.

 

The rest of the chapter is beautiful. The swordplay is written so elegantly. You can see the movements, it’s cinematic and a dance as well. Stick some music and a few slow motions in there… Well I have a movie trailer in my head.

Lets not forget all the intriguing things re Wu Jiang. The Golden Boy might be a person of depth…. Zoë Marriott never writes one dimensional characters so I am excited to learn about him.

 

Chapter 12:

Didn’t I tell you?!!!

 

Chapter 13:

I should be concerned that I am happy with the outcome of this chapter? What does that say about me?

 

The last 2 chapters have set up the next big turning point in the story. The training is done, Zhi has proved themselves, now it is onward into… Well we’ll find out.

 

There is another revelation.
One that Zhi has made. Zoë Marriott has slowly been weaving self acknowledgement into the story.

 

Chapter 14:

Yang Jie, thank goodness. Phew.

Hmmm. Much hmmmm re the rest.

 

Chapter 15:

Just 💔

 

Chapter 16:

Dear Zoë, I am most displeased about Yang Jie. My emotions are not to be toyed with…Actually I suppose they are. That’s what authors do.

Ok, I will let Yang Jie alone for know. I fully reserve the right to heul about this some more.

 

Let’s talk story. How are you finding it?

I liked this chapter. It’s eerie. There is another bit of mapping of the world, its visually haunting and also builds the bond that is happening with Wu Jiang’s and Zhi.

 

Chapter 17:

A while back I said that I thought that there would a reasoning behind General Leopard and the people he leads… I don’t care anymore.

Warning. Don’t eat while reading this part. Also I assume not the next chapter either.

 

Chapter 18:

Look I want to like Wu Jiang. He has a lot of amicable qualities. He’s intelligent, skilled, gracious… But Zhi is not a trophy.

 

Chapter 19:

I was right. Do you ever want to slap a fictional character? Or dunk a cold water bucket over them?

Its creepy. Ok. This is creepy. Not the I’m-watching-you-sleep-Edward-creepy but we’re close.

 

Chapter 20:

Where is Yang Jie? He’s not appeared for a while and I miss him.

 

Chapter 21:

Well now this is a pickle isn’t it.

 

Chapter 22:

Ugh, ok so there is a telling moment in this chapter. It’s when Shu Yuen gets dismissed. For each time Wu Jiang does something nice he undoes it by being creepy and possessive of Zhi or, in this instance, being a pompous arse.

Maybe I should feel bad because he also gets treated badly but this whole honour structure system is depressing. Frankly I’d chuck them all and have Yang Jie and Zhi run of into the sunset….

 

Chapter 23:

No.

 

This didn’t help….

 

Chapter 24:

I…
Yeah I’m still dealing with the previous chapter.

Is anyone ok with what happened?

 

Chapter 25:

Oh Zhi what did you get into?

Also I’m still not ok…

 

But we are going to but that aside to talk about Zoë’s underground / cave obsession. Should there be a concern here? The Name of the Blade series had and amazing (truly spectacular) underground world (worlds?), then there was Barefoot on the Wind…. Now Zhi is in another “underworld”. I think Zoë might have a secret path in a garden. I’m just not sure which of her hidden worlds it leads to.

 

Chapter 26:

…. yeah I was so engrossed I forgot to write something.

 

Chapter 27:

I knew she was important. A meeting is never just a meeting.

Right, so how are we thinking the next bit is going go?

 

Chapter 28:

Let me at him! Let me at him! Selfish, manipulative, underhanded jerk of a #∆¥×!!!

What is this? I can’t have you so I’ll make sure that nobody can? Let me destroy your life in the name of my fantasy romance. Controlling brat. Also emperor – hello?! Double standard much.

So yes. If we had to summarise my feelings about The Hand, The Eye and the Heart at this stage it would be that Zoë Marriott has emotional ruined me. Well done.

 

Chapter 29:

Taking a step back and leaving my emotional self on the other side of the room (she still wants to rage about things) – this is a really good chapter.

Zhi works through things and as the reader you get a front seat. One of the things that Zoë Marriott has done in this book is shown how subtle and manipulative an abuse of power relationship can be. Zhi realises how they got manipulated by-

Wu Jiang. The conversation at the beginning of the chapter shows how Wu Jiang has no awareness of his own actions, because;

  • He’s living his romantic fantasy
  • He’s entitled (male, powerful, rich)
  • Zhi has no value in his world, except the value he assigns them

Wu Jiang is so oblivious to his actions its almost comical. It isn’t though. This is a fictional version of real life, and it replays over and over and over.

Take the fantasy element away and Zhi is trapped in a story with a boss who is using his power to help him “win” over Zhi. Regardless of how Zhi fells about this.

It is good to see this in fiction, especially YA fiction because this relationship is not shown as healthy. Wu Jiang “the fantasy hero” is toxic.

 

Chapter 30:

*starts blubbering*

 

Chapter 31:

So I can’t really talk about the story part without spoilers, instead I will say that I thought gender identity conversation was good.

BTW, the cliffhanger chapters in this book- ohhhhh

It is a struggle to put down. My recommendation? Don’t.

 

Chapter 32:

The was a brief moment when I thought I would be quite ill but thankfully Zhi rectified that by severely kicking someone.

 

Epilogue:

The change of voice has thrown me. Suddenly I’m being talked to by Zhi, and on top of that it’s like I’m a little child. I sort of get why but it feels jarring after the rest of the book.

 

 

#TheHandTheEyeandtheHeart #ThTEandTH
#ThTEandTHLiveReadalong #ThTEandTHReadalong

Zhilan was assigned female at birth; despite an unusual gift for illusions, they know they will live out their life in the perfumed confines of the women’s quarters. But when civil war sets the country aflame, Zhilan is the only one who can save their disabled Father from death on the battlefield.

By taking his place.

Surviving brutal army training as a male recruit – Zhi – is only the first challenge. Soon Zhi’s unique talents draw them into an even more perilous fight, in the glittering court of the Land of Dragons, where love and betrayal are two sides of the same smile. The fate of an Empire rests on Zhi’s shoulders. But to win, they must first decide where their loyalty, and their heart, truly belongs.

Publishes: 4th April 2019 by Walker Books

 

All:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapters 4 – 6
Chapters 7 – 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapters 12 – 14
Chapters 15 – 17
Chapters 18 – 19
Chapters 20 – 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapters 25 – 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31 – Epilogue

#TheHandTheEyeandtheHeart #ThTEandTH
#ThTEandTHLiveReadalong #ThTEandTHReadalong

Note: This is not a “live” reading of the book. The reactions and notes were taken at the time of reading so are “live” in that sense.

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