Review: Phoenix Extravagant

Jebi was torn between saying ‘You are embarrassing me’ and ‘I am going to take up my brush and make a painting of you that they will talk about for the next 10,000 years’. They said neither.

A world chock full of the history of China/Japan/China of a hundred years and change ago. Racism, colonialism, occupation, etc.

A major take on artists during war. Both from the main character Gyen Jebi, an artist who fails to pass the examination for the Ministry of Art–and ends up the perhaps much more interesting Ministry of Armor, making magical automata for the government. It’s fascinating seeing a relatively common job turned extraordinary.

And of course, the mechanical dragon on the cover. Arazi. Who is also a philosopher and pacifist, because of course they are. . There’s always something fun about relatively non-human characters like that. Probably the coolest part of the book.

And of course of course, there’s love. The relationship between Jebi and their captors, Vei especially. It’s interesting seeing the people who are perhaps all the more aware of the situation at hand and their relationships with the at times amusingly clueless Jebi.

Overall, an interesting book. I like the magic of the setting and the characters. The ending felt a little weird and weak, but it did wrap up well enough I suppose.

The studio also featured a large wall calendar with cryptic abbreviations, presumably reminders. Also doodles of gears, sprockets, and malformed genitalia, because artists were artists.