Immortal longings by Chloe Gong

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This is a story for those who love twisted power struggles! I admired it and yet its serious intensity was hard to love. In essence it is a fantasy epic that explores a world where the tumultuous history has now led to a very imbalanced royal rule, one that perhaps has forgotten the people that it is supposed to serve. Strangely, in this world there are also mystical elements that provide opportunities to escape hardship and difficulty by slipping into other bodies, a trait that has benefits and huge problems. In this strange world there is also a royal-sanctioned competition to give opportunity to individuals to rise above their position in life and benefit hugely from the prize awarded. However, there is only one winner, and in order to win they must kill the other competitors. In a Hunger Games-style contest an exiled Princess Calla, attempting to restore the authority in the country to a more admirable rule, and Anton, a young man whose youthful love interest has been in a coma for years and who desperately needs resources to keep her alive, are pitted against each other in a violent challenge. Behind the scenes there are alliances and others with their own machinations for power. The story twists and turns with trust the loser throughout this complex story.

In a strange way this story feels like the strange descendant of The Hunger Games, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, and Game of Thrones!  This bizarre and intricate tale has many elements from all of these tales, but it is its own well-crafted drama with incredible power to capture an audience. Written for an adult audience, its violence is quite extreme and frequent, and there is even an x-rated scene in a highly charged moment in the narrative, and the power struggles and conspiracies are complex. Lovers of the fantasy genre should not expect a teen-aged light drama, but rather a story that has many threads and intricacies related to the quest for power (and maybe even the search for love and connection) in a complex world. The mystical body-swapping aspect is also head-spinning for readers as characters change in appearance at regular times. With a hint of the Asian mystical qi (life force), there are some subtle Asian influences in this fantasy. With a powerful conclusion that implies that this is not the end of the story connecting the main characters, readers who are hooked by the impressive writing of Chloe Gong will need to wait to see how this world will change.

Recommended for an adult audience who love complex fantasy.

Themes: Epic fantasy, Revenge, Power, Relationships, Trust.

Carolyn Hull