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She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan


She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
UK Publication: July 2021
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Pan Macmillan – Mantle (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

One word review – Epic

Synopsis from Goodreads: She’ll change the world to survive her fate . . .

In Mongol-occupied imperial China, a peasant girl refuses her fate of an early death. Stealing her dead brother’s identity to survive, she rises from monk to soldier, then to rebel commander. Zhu’s pursuing the destiny her brother somehow failed to attain: greatness. But all the while, she feels Heaven is watching.

Can anyone fool Heaven indefinitely, escaping what’s written in the stars? Or can Zhu claim her own future, burn all the rules and rise as high as she can dream?

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a re-imagining of the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu was the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols, unified China under native rule, and became the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

My Thoughts: Wow that was quite a ride and now for the warning looking on Goodreads I see this is labelled as The Radiant Emperor #1 and while the book doesn’t end on a cliff hanger it is very clear that Zhu’s story is not over. This is good and bad, good because I know there will be another book at some point in the future bad because I now have to wait for that book to be written #ReaderIssues.

Having previously read a few works of classical Chinese Literature (A Dream of Red Mansions, Monkey – Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin) I could definitely see parallels between all of these books especially in the ideas relating to religion, treatment of women and of course the ideas of honour, battle and victory.

I loved the fact that the narrators of both storylines are gender queer and growing into a true acceptance of who they are in a society that treats both of them as inferior. Let me make this clear when it comes to ambition and cold hearted realism there is nothing holding these two back and some of their actions were truly shocking even to a reader who thought she understood them. Powerful thing ambition.

I also loved  the magical realism/spiritual elements of the book. Ghosts and heavenly messengers on earth hell yeah.

Who would like this? Anyone who has read the Chinese classics and wants an alternate view, anyone who enjoys historical fiction and anyone who loves strong characters who are not purely good or evil.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’ve got an ARC of this book as well, and I look forward to reading it! I’m glad you liked it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2021
  2. Book Worm #

    Hope you enjoy it too 🙂


    July 11, 2021

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