Kirkus Review of Emperor & Court Magician

THE EMPEROR AND COURT MAGICIAN Jikun Kathy Sankey Manuscript
A Chinese empress deals with a troubled son in this debut historical novel.
The year is 601 C.E., and the setting is Sui Dynasty China. One stormy day, in the early hours of the morning, Seer Chen rushes through the dawn streets, seeking a meeting with Empress Dugu. Beneath her robes, she clutches a precious box that occasionally glimmers with a mysterious light. She has kept it safe for years, but it is in danger now and needs a new home. The seer’s visit is fortuitous, as the empress yearns to see her dear friend. The problem is Prince Yang, the heir to the throne and the empress’s son. Yang’s life got off to a charmed start; a kind but savvy child, the young man focused on study and exploration. He surrounded himself with wholesome friends and avoided the perils of the brothel. Kind and just, he seemed to have all the qualities one would want in a ruler. But then one day, out of the blue, everything changed. Now, Yang carouses and drinks; he falls into fits of pique or streaks of violence. It is almost as if he has been replaced by an evil twin. Seer Chen, hearing Dugu’s lament, can’t help but worry that their troubles are connected. Their fateful meeting sparks the plot of this brief but punchy historical novel chock full of palace intrigue and spiritual drama (Chen’s “mind returned to the Prince’s errant behavior, which she had known about, but curiously whenever she would try to see into the situation, her mind would grow fuzzy. It was as if there were a veil over the Prince that shielded him from being seen”).
 Sankey wastes no time with exposition, dropping her readers straight into a bracing, fast-paced, innovative tale. This enjoyable book is the first installment of an ambitious trilogy that follows a handful of souls through three incarnations. The second volume takes place in early-20th-century Okinawa while the third entry is set in contemporary Malibu, California. The series is a surprising and audacious creative undertaking that is off to a rousing start.
An inventive tale of royal intrigue with accents of mysticism and magic.

Part 2: Reaching the Liu Chiu’s

                  Having journeyed for more than ten days in the Chinese junk, the Magician continued his way on the open sea. The tiny vessel was equipped with a small sail, and his sleeping area had only a little rectangular patch of fabric that served as protection from the sun. The currents were not in his favor, […]


Past midnight, the Magician, realizing what he must do, stealthily slipped out of his cell and bolted up the stone wall that bordered the palace, leapt to the ground on the other side and took one of the guard’s horses, and fled to the port. A small junk had been quickly procured and secretly prepared […]


As he made his way to his quarters, he bumped into the Captain of the failed second expedition who practically knocked him down. The Third Captain reeled back from the crash and almost lost his balance as he instinctively caught hold of the man who spoke with a slur from having drunk too much local […]


That night the Emperor gasped wide-eyed from an eerie dream he’d had for four consecutive nights. The dream felt more vivid than ever before. Gulping for air, he yelled for his Court Magician. “It is just a nightmare, sir,” consoled the trusty Magician, who rushed into the Emperor’s chambers disheveled since it was the middle […]