Asked By: Kyle Watson Date: created: Oct 13 2023

Who is part of the Lgbtq in my hero academia

Answered By: Thomas Wright Date: created: Oct 15 2023

With fans speculating whether or not Mineta is bisexual, many forget there are other established queer characters worth exploring. Mineta is one of the most hated characters in My Hero Academia, not just by several of the characters on the show (especially the female ones) but also fans. He is lecherous, perverted, and a bit of a coward. A subset demographic of fans now hate him more because Mineta would be a crass representation of a bisexual,

Mineta potentially being bisexual plays into the trope that bisexual people (particularly bisexual males) are promiscuous predators who are not to be trusted. There is little solid evidence of Mineta being bisexual. Most of the speculation comes from the My Hero Academia manga Chapter #321, where Mineta says to Deku, “I fell for you.” This is hardly a case for his sexuality.

Still, more hinges on the fact that English translations are not always solid, whereas looking into a more accurate translation from Japanese has Mineta stating that he “admired” him. For those living in the West, the reaction to Mineta being perceived as bisexual may feel the same as what happened to the latest iteration of Superman coming out as bisexual.

Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent, came out in Superman: Son of Kal-El #4, This is not the fairest comparison of the two however since the Superman comics state Jon’s sexuality outright, and he even has a boyfriend named Jay Nakamura. This relationship also seems positioned to present a much more positive representation of a bisexual male character.

Needless to say, both caused an uproar in their respective fan communities for different reasons. Some fans of Superman viewed Jon Kent coming out as a cheap shot (even though it is not the same Superman but his son) at queerbaiting. Mineta being perceived as bisexual, on the other hand, brought some outrage because Mineta is a disliked character, and his sudden sexuality reveal (at least in the eyes of some fans) is shaky. The answer is a resounding no, and queer fans have to look no further than the character of Tiger, who was, in truth, the first confirmed LGBTQ character in My Hero Academia. Tiger, whose real name is Yawara Chotaro, is a trans man who is part of the hero team of the Wild Wild Pussycats.

This character in the series might not have been told in explicit detail that he is a trans man. Still, according to My Hero Academia’s manga author, Kohei Horikoshi, Tiger was a female assigned at birth who transitioned into a man in adulthood. Some reading this may scratch their heads and ask why such a discussion matters, why is the sexuality of a character of great importance? For anime fans of the LGBTQ community, it matters a great deal.

Seeing characters like them that can be heroic breaks away from the stigma of being queer and can teach kids growing up with an LGBTQ identity that they can be noble heroes and respected by their heterosexual allies without having to hide their identity. So what does this mean for the future of LGBTQ characters in My Hero Academia? Maybe someday, fans of the show will see a pro hero akin to the wonderful non-binary superhero character, Fire Emblem, of the anime series- Tiger and Bunny, Only time will tell, but Tiger is a good start,

Is She Who Became the Sun adult?

“I refuse to be nothing” – GoodReads My Review Content/Trigger Warnings from the Author: “SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN is a book about gender identity ( amongst other things). While the two genderqueer protagonists reflect aspects of my own experiences of genderqueerness, this doesn’t mean these perspectives are necessarily affirming to any other LGBTQIA+ identifying persons.

Please read the warnings if you’re concerned, and take care of yourselves. Most violence occurs offscreen, and the level of depicted blood and gore is in line with that of your average 15+ historical TV drama. It is an adult book, not YA.” Content warnings: * Dysphoria * Pre-existing non-consensual castration * Misgendering * Internalised homophobia * Life-altering injury (amputation) * Ableist language * Non-graphic depictions of death by torture * Major character death * Offscreen murder of a child * Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation * Graphic depiction of a person burning to death What an amazing book.

I don’t know that I could even do justice to it by review it, but we’re gonna try. Set towards the end of the Mongol rule, this is the reimagining of the Ming Dynasty’s start and its emperor. Though this could be seen as an epic ‘Mulan-esque’ story I would say that it’s much more than that.

  • Zhu becomes someone else to achieve a destiny she wants, to avoid the fate that awaited her before taking up the mantle of another.
  • Every move she does is to forget the child and girl she was to become someone who will achieve greatness.
  • And she’ll do anything to achieve it.
  • Zhu is smart, ambitious, and not entirely without heart.

She is the perfect example of a morally grey character and the growth she goes through is staggering, especially on emotional level. Zhu transcends the generic views of gender classification. Zhu is not a woman dressing up to go to war. Zhu is simply Zhu, and has a destiny to catch.

  1. The story also follows General Ouyang, another person with a fate that shapes them.
  2. His destiny is set off, despite him not wanting it but he goes through it with the determination in which he led as a General.
  3. He harbors such a conflicted smattering of emotions, his affections for Esen and his hatred for what he stands for entwine and make something beautiful and terrifying that I loved reading.

He was certainly a dark horse but not really any ‘worse’ than anyone else the book focuses on. Especially given what happens to Esen, which I won’t spoil for you all but that’s some character development right there. Then there is Ma, who is pure and good and an absolute cinnamon roll.

  • The cast of characters in this is AMAZING and the pacing is pretty good, it’s more historical fiction than fantasy at this point, which shoes in the pacing, but there are elements to it that are rising up to its fantasy genre.
  • Parker-Chan’s writing style just took me in from the first page and I don’t know how I’m going to make it while waiting for the sequel.

The political intrigue was a 15/10 and the action scenes were also 15/10, seriously, I cannot emphasize enough how superior this book was for an ‘action’ novel. GO FORTH AND READ.5/5 huge cups of coffee from me! I’m so glad I got to read this as part of the Illumicrate readalong! EDIT: Forgot to add, Shelley Parker-Chan is extra amazing and added this pronunciation guide for those who might need it!

Is there a love interest in She Who Became the Sun?

Romantic subplot – The romantic subplot actually takes a back seat to everything else happening in the book, which I didn’t mind given the complexity of it. There’s Ouyang, who has unrequited feelings for his Commander and closest companion. The sapphic romance is with Zhu and the soft, emphatic betrothed Ma, who is her only shot at humanity. There’s no doubt that She Who Became the Sun is an ambitious book, covering the Ming Emperor’s rise to power from peasantry. I’m impressed with the scale of the story told here and the amount of detail given to the plot and the world. For a stunning debut set in 14th Century China featuring political warfare, gender queer characters and morally grey characters who you can’t help but root for, definitely pick up She Who Became the Sun. Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy! The following two tabs change content below.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube,

Is the daughters of Izdihar sapphic?

1,682 reviews 8,875 followers January 14, 2023 3.50 Stars. This is one of those times that I truly wish that we could use half stars.3 stars really is low, but 4 stars is too high so in the end the real rating is 3.50 stars, but 3 stars is the best I can do.

This was an average fantasy story that was entertaining, but I didn’t feel like I was reading about anything that new. This was a story about women who are very oppressed, while some are trying to take back their agency. Not to mention the fact that I can literally count on one hand the number of men (not boys) who were considered normal and not bad/awful/mean/evil in the whole book.

It got a bit tiresome of all of the men being so horrible in this book. The magic system was very elemental based, which was also familiar -although it had some interesting changes near the end so hopefully it will get better in book 2-. What was unexpected was the character of Nahel.

Nahel, does not react like someone who lives being used to being repressed all the time. Instead, she is angry and yells and screams at everyone until she gets her way. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. She is this ball of fire that does not fit, and you can’t help but like her even when you want her to tone it done since her way is not always the best way to get results.

In comparison, the character Giorgina is a dull boor. It is not really her fault, the type of oppression she lives under would crack anyone, so I think the way she acts is much more normal, but up against Nahel in this, Giorgina just doesn’t stand a chance.

  • There was some speculation of a love triangle, and as of this first book that is not true.
  • There were the beginnings of a sweet sapphic romance, and there was a HET romance that was in a bit of turmoil.
  • I wouldn’t mind if there ends up being an all sapphic poly triangle in book 2, as I have a feeling Giorgina might end up shedding her skin and turning into that badass that is hiding underneath.

While I complained that I didn’t feel like there was a lot of uniqueness in this first book, I think it had a lot to do with the set-up and getting the book ready to launch the next part. I think the next part has a chance to be interesting, distinct, and even more entertaining than this first half was.

2023-sapphic f-f-adventure-fantasy f-f-mainstream

813 reviews 139 followers September 17, 2022 Nahel is the daughter of a nobleman who wants nothing more than to join the Academy and fight in the military. But she discovers that she is going to be married off to help her family’s finances. Giorgina is from a poor family, and she spends her time working at a bookshop and fundraising for the Daughters of Izdihar, an activist group for women’s rights.

The paths of the two women begin to converge as they find themselves both struggling to learn about their magic and to fight for their rights. I loved the setting of this work. The author did an excellent job incorporating cultural details as well as details of the surrounding world into the narrative without it ever feeling like an info-dump.

I wanted a bit more from the worldbuilding, especially more details concerning the magic, its origins, etc., but there was enough included to make the setting feel realistic and give it depth. The only thing I disliked was that the parameters of the world weren’t clearly established – the beginning of the work made this feel like a traditional fantasy world, but then there was a casual mention of travelling by rail/train, and some more modern words were used in the dialogue.

  • This did break the immersion a bit for me.
  • The characters were well written and had great depth and development.
  • I enjoyed that the work was told from Nehal’s and Giorgina’s POVs and that they were almost opposites of each other.
  • This added interesting depth to the story.
  • Despite Nehal being hard-headed and a bit spoiled, it was impossible not to like her.

There wasn’t much romance included in the work although there was a love triangle (which was surprisingly well done and added much needed depth/tension to the plot!). That being said, I did feel that there wasn’t much plot in this work. Plenty of things happened that were interesting and added to the characters and the world, but it was light on plot overall.


550 reviews 925 followers January 23, 2023 One of my best friends wrote this book and I could not be prouder!!!! I read an early draft of THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR and it was remarkable; you all want to add this to your TBRs posthaste. Awaiting Spring 2023 VERY impatiently.

2023 fantasy-sci-fi published-in-2023

995 reviews 306 followers January 13, 2023 HELLO FEMALE RAGE LOVERS, DO I HAVE THE PERFECT BOOK FOR YOU! The Daughters of Izdihar is a feminist fantasy. That’s it. Read it now. NOW I SAY. We follow two PoVs, that of Nehal (our resident angry girl) and Giorgina (Nehal’s complete opposite).

  1. Both of these girls want different things, Nehal to join a magical academy of sorts that only men were allowed to join up until now, and Giorgina wants something more simple, Nehal’s new husband and her own ex Nico.
  2. Both of them are entangled with The Daughters of Izdihar, and its leader Malak.
  3. Now Malak has been a favourite of mine ever since she popped up on page.

I think she’s the coolest character in the book and I can’t wait to see even more of her in the sequel. Nehal is my other favourite, she’s spoiled rotten and acts like it the entire book, she’s selfish, and like I said angry. But I like angry, she wants to burn down the whole world and I support her!! I preferred her PoV to Giorgina’s, it had more going on.

  1. Giorgina was kind of quiet, trying not to cause too much trouble and most of her thoughts revolved around Nico.
  2. I didn’t care much for their romance, but I did like that it was happening so Nehal and Malak could get their own chance to shine.
  3. I normally like love triangles, but if this had ended up being a love triangle between Nehal, Nico and Giorgina I would’ve been disappointed.

So if you’re reading this and thinking it might turn into one, TRUST ME IT WON’T, JUST KEEP READING. Malak and Nehal though, I love them together, I love them so much, they’re my life and I need more of them. There wasn’t a lot of romance in this book overall, so I hope we’ll get some more in the next book.

arcs fantasy lgbt

31 reviews 1 follower April 10, 2023 (this is going to be a long review that’s not. very nice and contains mild spoilers as well (I don’t really think they’re spoilers though) so yeah here’s your warning i guess) First of all i have to say that my biggest problem with this book was its premise.

  1. So why have i read it? I saw someone on twitter post a picture of their recent book purchases and i spotted this book among them, the author’s name stood out as very Egyptian and i got really excited and immediately looked it up.
  2. When i read the synopsis i was so disappointed but i thought i should give it a chance anyway.

I really shouldn’t have bothered. This book is just another attempt at recycling the extremely tiresome narrative of Arab/Egyptian women being helpless and oppressed by the evil, regressive Arab/Egyptian men. Yes, I know it’s a fantasy book, but it’s inspired by Egyptian culture/history.

  1. And of course, surprising absolutely no one, the only man who supports women’s fight to liberate themselves has to be a blond “Talyani” (Egyptian Arabic for Italian, the author didn’t even bother with coming up with new countries lol.
  2. A wholly new world, i heard.) with blue eyes and everything.
  3. The man who rescued our heroine from her backwards family and lets her pursue the studies she has always wanted.

Wow *heart fucking eyes*. You can’t convince me that this book, aimed mainly at a western audience, doesn’t reinforce harmful stereotypes with these frankly bizarre choices in 2023. Anyway, i also thought that maybe the feminist stuff in this book would be good to read about.

What’s not to love about women with superpowers trying to dismantle the patriarchy? Oh, a whole fucking lot. The sexism/misogyny in this book was, again, recycled arguments that you’ve heard millions of times before, that have been done in thousands of books before and sometimes they were caricature-ishly funny from how forced and convoluted they were because the author had a checklist of misogynistic things to put in the book just to make a point.

The retorts at said misogynist arguments were also recycled. That shit was just fucking boring to read and it was also like 70% of the whole book. The other 30% was just the astonishingly uninteresting characters doing the most stupid bullshit. I also heard this was a queer story which was another reason i put my suspicions about a book with such a premise aside and picked it up anyway.

*sigh* there is a gay side character in here that gets introduced at the beginning of the book to Nehal, one of the protagonists, from nowhere for no reason but i was like “ok, whatever” and she immediately befriends him, then he just disappears for the rest of the book (she also gets told by her in-laws that he’s “a queer”, and she should stay away from him because of her reputation bla bla bla.

What a homophobic people!!) and appears again only a few pages before the book ends so that Nehal can tell him “hey i think I’m gay too” and he goes “damn, sucks for us doesn’t it”, then disappears again. Like???? He just felt like a plot device to me.

(Other characters felt the same btw, they appeared to be important characters at first who clearly should have some influence on whatever tf was going on but then they just abruptly disappear from the story and we move on lol) Nehal’s relationship with the female love interest wasn’t dealt with in much better ways, it felt rushed and most of the supposed development of their feelings for each other happened behind the scenes and we just got told about it.

Oh, i forgot the fantasy aspect of this book.which wasn’t really there? The author barely changed the names of a few Egyptian places, came up with an extremely boring religion (that didn’t get exolored at all and the reader barely knows shit about it), then decided to choose the most boring, overdone magic system and rolled with it.

  1. There was a ton of references to Egyptian culture (clothes and food) and that was supposed to be enough world building? I thought this book was, uh, “set in a wholly new world”.
  2. The exotic orient?? Lol) That magic system too, again,as recycled as it is, didn’t get explored enough, if at all.
  3. Surely people with superpowers to control elements would fight more against the oppression they supposedly endure.

What about the bad people who could weave? What did they do with their abilities? Like there have to be consequences for something like that especially with how much only two/three of the bunch of characters we encounter do so much with their weaving but no, the story could as well be set in real Egypt in like the 1800s and not much would be different.

What about male weavers? Yes, they were allowed to to go to school to master their weaving but there was still a lot of prejudice against weaving, what did they do about said prejudice? I don’t want to be mean to a young Egyptian author and especially since this is her debut novel but this book pissed me the hell off.

And lastly, if someone saw this review and got mad at me for it: i simply don’t care. I’m obviously entitled to my opinion.


410 reviews 10 followers March 12, 2023 4.25* Another great book that fits into the category of “anti-imperialistic, non-European sapphic badass fantasy”, right beside The Unbroken and The Jasmine Throne (and probably many I just forgot). I hope this sub-genre never ends growing.

  • This is a story about two women magicians living in a country that oppresses both women and magicians.
  • What I really liked about this book is how nuanced Hadeer Elsbai described the lives of the women of this world – not only the protagonists but many side-characters as well.
  • I think this world has much potential, and I’m excited about what else might happen in this series.

I mean, this story has it all: magic schools, family drama, politics, suffragettes and female friendships, bookworm need husbands, rebellions, history, there is so much to marvel at and enjoy. It was a little too plot-driven for my taste, and I would have enjoyed a few more scenes developing the beautiful sapphic relationship we got here. July 19, 2022 First, thank you so much for the eARC. I am so beyond grateful. This book is everything I wanted and more. “The Daughters of Izdihar” is the perfect combination of fantasy and real world problems, which is something I feel can be hard to achieve.

This book follows our two protagonists, Nehal and Giorgina, as they deal with fighting for the rights of women and weavers (the magic system—not unlike bending from Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is AMAZING). Their noble cause is pitted against the crushing patriarchal society in which they live, as well as some unsavory groups that are introduced throughout the story.

To start, the plot and the pacing is perfect. I read over half of the book in one sitting because of how invested I was. There is a good balance of high-stress and low-stress events, and the plot is easy to follow. The world-building is phenomenal in every way.

This world is so detailed and interesting, from the society the women are fighting to change to the religion and the weavers. I also really enjoyed that we learned about the culture and history throughout the plot in ways that made sense—I didn’t feel like it was all dumped on me at once. I really enjoyed the various conflicts and how they were handled and intertwined.

The biggest is women versus a violently patriarchal society, but weavers versus religious zealots, police brutality, and international relations are all dealt with masterfully. Next, the characters. I LOVE the characters. Obviously, Nehal and Giorgina are the spotlight and they deserve every bit of it.

The women are juxtaposed in many ways, which makes their perspectives so interesting. Not only are they opposites in personality, but they also deal with themes in opposite ways. Think one learning when to bite her tongue and the other learning when to stand up for herself, that kind of thing. It’s amazing.

The other major character is Nico, who is such a lovely character. He is well-intentioned but frustrating, and I love that. He, like the women, is a complex character who is easy to like and easy to learn from. He represents a larger problem, which is addressed in the story (but I won’t spoil anything!).

I really love so many of the characters, like Nagi and Labiba, and even the antagonists are well-written and so very easy to hate. I wish I could put to words just how much I love this book. It was such an amazing read and so well-written, in my opinion. I read over half of this book in one sitting because I simply could not put it down, and I really will think about this story for the rest of my days.

My only regret is that I now have to wait for publish day to get this book in a physical format and then even longer for the second book. I cannot wait for both of those dates, even if they are far away! Thank you again to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC—I am so grateful for the opportunity to read such an amazing book. 263 reviews 537 followers March 5, 2023 What a fantastic, feminist, sapphic, political fantasy. I loved both main characters and felt totally compelled for the whole reading experience. Loooveeedd! 416 reviews 207 followers February 16, 2023 7/10 Interesting setting (Egyptian) and plot background (women’s suffrage), with interesting characters that suffers a bit from cliche or basic dialogue in more complex situations, and a subpar magic system.

  • The magic system is quite literally ATLA.
  • Not inspired is exactly the same, to the point that there is a conversation in this book about bloodbending (“bloodweaving”) that is almost identical to the conversation Katara has with that old lady in ATLA.
  • It was so frustratingly similiar I docked half a star.

Rookie mistake. But otherwise, a lot to like here. All three of the main characters felt distinct and despite setting up an obvious love triangle, actually veered away from it and did interesting things. If the author improves in the sequel, it could be very good. 2,206 reviews 3,200 followers April 3, 2023 3.0 Stars I have loved other Middle Eastern inspired fantasy so I was hoping to love this one. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed. My major issue was the fact that this adult fantasy read more like a young adult, which is not an age category I typically read.

2023-books fantasy

1,382 reviews 224 followers December 11, 2022 Such a cool cover, let’s see what’s behind it. Goodies. Lots of goodies. A political upheaval, sapphic romance, magic, and a looming war. In the kingdom of Ramsawa, based on a fantastical Egypt, women have no voice.

Nehal Darweesh wants to master her innate waterweaving skills and become a soldier. Instead, she learns her parents have arranged her marriage to Niccolo Baldinotti, the son of another influential family. The marriage surprises Nico, too; He already has someone in his life. Unfortunately, Nehal’s father’s gambling debts won’t pay for themselves, so the two get married.

Nehal persuades Nico to allow her to enroll in the Alamaxa Academy of the Weaving Arts to study waterweaving. In return, he can keep his beloved Giorgina Shukry as a concubine. Giorgina and Nehal were both born with elemental magic, but weren’t allowed to be trained because they were women.

Both find their way to the Daughters of Izdihar, a clandestine organization fighting for equality. The traditionalists don’t want any progressive changes and react with ire to women daring to study magic and willing to be heard. The story focuses on Nehal and Giorgina and their paths to challenge society and its norms.

Their arcs strongly differ – Nehal comes from a wealthy family and she knows her name has power in the city. Giorgina has nothing but her reputation. I admit I found Nehal’s voice more interesting. She’s filled with anger and ready to fight for her beliefs.

  • She also rarely listens to anyone, and while she comes from money, she never wastes time worrying about what people say about her.
  • Still, she can afford it, contrary to many women from less privileged backgrounds.
  • She has a short fuse, and her angry antics entertain and deliver a strong social commentary.

Now, the world here lacks nuance, especially in its presentation of gender relations and approach to queerness. It’s actually quite shallow, but it amplifies the message. If you can turn a blind eye to the lack of subtlety and enjoy characters easily engulfed by a feeling of uncontrollable fury, you’ll be good and have a good time.

  • If, however, you appreciate a more nuanced approach, look for entertainment elsewhere.
  • I enjoyed the story despite its shortcomings and cartoonish shortcuts.
  • I found Nehal’s voice delightful, and I cheered for her.
  • Giorgina needed more time to develop as a character and find her strength, but once she did, she became an excellent character.

I recommend it to readers looking for an emotional, character-driven story focused on the fight for women’s rights and sympathetic characters. With its fast-paced storytelling, relatable characters, and solid hooks, The Daughters of Izdihar will hook you from beginning to end.


589 reviews 98 followers December 30, 2022 4.5 stars Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review! I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did, but it was so so good! It was easy to immerse myself in this world, although I do think that there could have been further development in the worldbuilding as we don’t really find out much at all about where the magic comes from – you kind of have to piece it together as you go along which makes the beginning of the story a bit confusing.

  • However, I still found the world fascinating and I’m hoping we get more of an in-depth look into the history of the world in the second novel.
  • I found it really easy to distinguish between the two POVs of Nehal and Giorgina; they were distinctive, which was helped by the fact that the characters were essentially opposites of each other, They each had a lot of depth and I was invested in both of their very different lives, and enjoyed when they crossed paths with each other too.

Despite Nehal typically not being a character I would enjoy reading, as she’s quite self-centred and hard-headed, I actually really enjoyed reading from her which I think shows how carefully the author has handled these character traits. There was a lot of important discussion on women’s rights; there is a group of women in this book fighting for their rights called the Daughters of Izdihar, and I really loved seeing how they fought for what they deserved and the oppression they faced, I was really invested in the plot of this and I can’t wait to see how this develops in the sequel.

2022-arcs 2023-releases adult-fiction

Author 2 books 129 followers October 7, 2022 This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2023but I hate it. It’s not that it’s technically bad? But I was expecting lush, gorgeous prose to go with the setting and that fabulous cover, and instead the writing is extremely basic, even blunt.

  • The first few chapters are just a barrage of clumsy telling-telling-telling, all of it far more simplistic than I expect from Adult Fantasy.
  • I was looking for intricate, detailed worldbuilding and politics and all, and I just didn’t find it here.
  • And it’s boring.
  • The sexism the women have to deal with is appropriately rage-inducing, but a whole bunch of people were acting pretty stupidly because, I guess, the plot required them to.

(Using blasphemous magic to attack a counter-protestor? Sure, that’s exactly what a real leader of a movement would do, and nevermind that the crowd is a breath away from rioting already! But the riot has to happen for the plot, so insert shrug here, I guess.) Events moved incredibly quickly, so there was no time for any of it to have real emotional impact, which in turn made them uninteresting.

  1. It didn’t help that most of the characters felt two-dimensional at best, defined by just one or two traits rather than being fully fleshed out.
  2. There was nothing to latch onto with any of the cast, no way to really make myself care about any of the characters.
  3. It’s not terrible.
  4. But it feels very, very basic, and I was expecting so much more than that.

I really, desperately wanted to love this. I tried to. But it wasn’t meant to be, I guess.

advanced-reading-copy bipoc-author lgbtqai-protagonists

145 reviews 8 followers March 4, 2023 Wonderful Arabic-inspired fantasy with a women suffrage theme. I really liked this book, it was well written and novel in the way to approach fantasy, from a more “modern” perspective. The issue of women suffrage in a very patriarchal society, and the difficulty of this journey are very well explored.

  • The ending is a bit open and both protagonists (and the main male character) grated on me in a few points.
  • Nehal especially: she was often too much in a frenzy.
  • But this is also the beauty of this book: the characters are very realistic, full of personality and flaws.
  • I might have wanted a bit more exploration of them (it felt like we were rushing through a bit), but it was otherwise a splendid book.

Highly recommend.

2023tbr fairytales-themes fantasy

40 reviews 2,830 followers January 11, 2023 I finished this in one sitting because I could not put it down. Queer ladies, elemental magic, beautiful Egyptian-inspired world and hardcore feminism. A bunch of big yeses from me. I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time. *FULL REVIEW ON MY CHANNELS* 19 reviews 4 followers August 9, 2022 No one is more shocked than me that this book was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps I had the wrong expectations going in, but the magic system wasn’t all that interesting to me, one of the protagonists was so boring I almost skipped her chapters, and there were too many repetitive setbacks for my taste.

I really did love Nehal and Malak, though. I also liked the supporting character who wanted to burn everything down. I think if the book was about the three of them, or about Nehal and Malak and Yusry, a gay man who tries his best to live his life truthfully, I could have enjoyed it a bit more. Giorgina and her love interest are so boring, their conflicts so uninterested to me, I couldn’t really care for them at all.

I also wish that less of the plot was the women in this oppressive society trying to do a pacific protest, being sabotaged, beaten, arrested. Telling men what happened, being ignored. Rinse, repeat. It made the second half of the book feel a bit deflated of tension and momentum, because anytime the book seemed to be gearing up for an escalation, it just handled the women the same setbacks instead. 18 reviews 14 followers August 6, 2022 Before I get started, I’d like to say thank you to both to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I’d also like to offer a disclaimer: I’ve known the author for years online. While I would like to say that my opinions are unbiased, I’m afraid that I cannot claim to be wholly unprejudiced where my friends are concerned, even if that bias is subconscious.

However, I will do my best to offer my unsolicited, earnest feedback with this review. Now that we are all on the same page. Have you ever heard of “lightning in a bottle”? Or it may be more appropriate to call what Elsbai has captured as “djinn in a bottle,” because novels like The Daughters of Izdihar, the first of a series called The Alamaxa Duology, make storytelling look less like craft and more like magic.

The writing is propulsive and thoroughly cinematic – utterly unputdownable after you read that first page – which is a quality that made series like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games absolute blockbusters. If this isn’t the novel everyone on BookTok is talking about in 2023, I’ll eat my hat.

  1. Daughters is set in a fantastical country inspired by a historical Egypt known as Ramsawa.
  2. There, manipulators of one of the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water), known as weavers, are tolerated for their innate powers at best and scorned as heretical by religious acolytes at worst.
  3. They are feared for their capabilities; as are Ramsawi women, who are held in just as much contempt as weavers, if not more so.
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In the face of such oppression, two women – Nehal and Giorgina – are coming of age in the Ramsawi city of Alamaxa amidst a rising tide of change for both women and weavers. Both are involved in the feminist organization known as The Daughters of Izdihar, which not only serves women practically by offering food and sourcing healthcare, but also politically, as its members fight for suffrage and equal protection under the law.

Both are also weavers, and weavers are also beginning to experience some amount of freedom, as the long-shuttered Alamaxa Academy of the Weaving Arts reopens for the first time in two centuries. It’s the only formal school where men can learn to harness and utilize their magical gift (and women, too, for an exorbitant price).

Looming on the horizon, however, is the threat of war from a neighboring country, not to mention the threats posed by violence from within, like police who brutalize protestors with impunity. One stray gust of errant wind could bring a tempest to Ramsawa, and that tension is illustrated on every page.

  1. It is a delicate balancing act to propel the plot forward and not lose sight of any one of these disparate elements, which a lesser author might be prone to do.
  2. But Elsbai handles her narrative with ease, much like a water weaver who transforms liquid into ice into steam back to liquid again.
  3. A lot of this ease is owed to the specificity of the world-building, and how readers slip undetected between each narrative, experiencing first-hand how a privileged aristocrat like Nehal and a working-class romantic like Giorgina can inhabit the same city, but entirely different worlds.

What also makes this balance possible is how each character is rendered, primarily, with empathy and compassion. This is a choice that runs parallel to the hero’s journey Nehal and Giorgina are both on, as Nehal learns how to advocate for others, and Giorgina learns how to advocate for herself.

That these lessons are inextricable from their pursuit of justice in the face of overwhelming odds is the point. The personal is political in The Daughters of Izdihar, They may be able to manipulate grains of sand or gusts of wind, but it is these women believing in each other which grants them their most salient, fearsome power: the power to effect change.

Most importantly, though? This book is fun. It is *extremely* hard not to root for a ragtag group of characters who are fighting against a violent heteropatriarchy, which I would argue will be refreshingly cathartic to read in 2023. (It was in 2022!) Five out of five stars.

2022 favorites

243 reviews 33 followers Shelved as ‘did-not-finish’ June 11, 2023 I wanted to like this one, but at five chapters and 50 pages in, I’m just not enjoying myself and it’s time to DNF. The pros: the setting is engaging and I really wanted to dig into the inner workings of a protest movement based on securing voting rights for women.

The cons: the sentences. I felt the red-pen itch in my editing hands on about page 3 and that didn’t really let up. Frankly, the ways that this is a debut novel are showing everywhere, from clunky sentence structure to repetitive dialogue tags, like the author doesn’t trust the words or other character cues like body language to convey tone and meaning.

For example: Anas snapped, “If you can’t show up on time, what is the point of you?” “There was a dust storm,” Giorgina finally managed to say. “I don’t care if Setuket himself descended up on the city and tore it in half,” Anas snapped. I would shrug the “Anas snapped” twice in three paragraphs off as a one-time revision error if the main character’s mother hadn’t also had three tags (snapped Shaheera, Shaheera snapped, she snapped) in one page worth of text on pages 2-3 (bottom of one page, midway on the next), when I first noticed this tic.

  1. We’re well into “learn a different word, damn” territory, and I can’t help but wonder where the line edits for this book were.
  2. It clearly got proofreading, since I don’t see many typos, but the nuts and bolts of making the existing words better just.
  3. Didn’t seem to happen.
  4. This is partly on me: it’s nitpicky, asshole stuff to complain about, but once I start noticing it, I can’t stop.

For a book I’m reading for pleasure in my free time, I want to get immersed in a story, not feel like this is an extension of my editing side gig. And frankly, it’s a weakness in the writing craft that extends to other areas for me. Nehal feels like a bratty teenager, not an adult, so her arranged marriage feels more like an inconvenience than a tragedy- her bland new husband has the personality of mayonnaise on saltines.

  1. Giorgina is noble and long-suffering, blamed for things that aren’t her fault, and her internal monologue reads like a freshman’s LiveJournal about how she should just accept her miserable place in the world.
  2. They’re both too thinly sketched to support the wide-ranging political revolution story that’s brewing in the background.

Characters don’t need to be likeable, but they need depth, and there’s just not enough subtlety here, in either the politics or the people, to motivate me into the later chapters. I half-regret the DNF, because I’m sure the political angle heats up, but I skimmed a few pages later in the book and didn’t feel my attention caught there either.

I would try this author’s work again with a fresh series a few years down the road, but I’m done with this one. As always, no star rating for books I didn’t finish. Other recommendations: -If you’re interested in the tension of magic users in a diverse city being persecuted (but while women have more freedom) in a loosely Middle Eastern setting, try Notorious Sorcerer,

That was also a DNF for me, but I got farther into it and thought the arranged marriage angle for one of the secondary characters had a lot more depth. -For a specifically Egyptian setting seething with magic and change, try A Master of Djinn, The mystery is more in the foreground there, but political unrest shapes the book. 336 reviews 23 followers September 28, 2022 All Nahal has ever wanted to do was learn to control her powers as a water weaver and just as the government lifts the ban on women joining the academy to do just that she receives devastating news; her parents are marrying her off to save the family’s fortune.

But Nahal has a plan that will get her into the Academy with her husband’s blessing to boot. Georgina is positive that Nico is different from other men, that even though he belongs to one of the most powerful families in Alaxama he will marry her so when he informs her that his family has married her off to Nahal Darweesh she is devastated and throws herself behind Daughter’s of Izdihar, group of women fighting for women’s rights in Alaxama lead by the charismatic Malak.

When Nahal and Georgina’s world’s collide due to their shared bond with Nico they will become the forefront of the charge to liberate themselves and the women around them and as their country is sucked into a war the stakes become higher than ever. Alright let’s get this out of the way; I cannot stand Nahal.

Is her character supposed to be a spoiled rotten child of privilege? Yes, absolutely. Does she grow as a character at all throughout the book? Not even a little bit. Nahal continually makes selfish decisions that effect everyone around her while somehow justifying these decisions. I found no justification for any of them.

She simply makes things worse. The pacing is maybe a bit too fast as well. All hell breaks loose almost immediately and just doesn’t let up. A fast paced book is nice but sometimes a break from everything that’s going wrong is nice. Actually not sometimes all the time.

  1. Especially when the topic is the oppression of women on a monumental scale.
  2. Which brings me to everything that’s good about this book.
  3. Reality is that even though I can’t stand Nahal I can almost guarantee a woman like her was fundamental in brining about women’s suffrage in the U.S.
  4. Back in the early twentieth century.

So while I can’t stand her I also believe that her character is, based on my oddly limited knowledge of the key players in women’s suffrage, probably highly realistic. Georgina’s character is absolutely wonderful and she does have a lot of character growth here so she makes up for Nahal’s lack of it.

  • What The Daughter’s of Izdihar must endure to simply get to the right to vote or sign something on their own is absolutely reminiscent of the real life struggles women the world over have gone through to gain these rights that men have taken for granted for basically ever.
  • And Georgina’s story, (which I won’t spoil) is a poignant reminder of what many women in this country right now have faced or will face due to laws that are attempting to be or have been passed currently/recently.

Overall, this was a blatant, in your face reminder that women still face battles in terms of equality and while yes the setting for this book is a part of the world that resembles the Middle East (for Western Audiences, I believe the author is Egyptian/American however) in real life, I think women from almost anywhere can relate to much of this. 95 reviews 26 followers March 15, 2023 DNF at 32% No one is in a bigger shock than I am that I quit this book. I don’t normally leave books unread because I like to give them a chance to sell themselves to me fully, which normally requires reading it in its entirety, but this one didn’t have enough there to keep me drawn in.

The descriptors were beautiful, the one about the opera house so clear in my head that I took a moment to stare at the ceiling and marvel at it alone. Everything else though? The plot? The characters? One big empty bag of nothing. Even 32% in I was still left with a blank on who Nehal is, who Giorgina is, what their personalities were like.

The little bit I was beginning to get from Nehal was almost enjoyable, but Giorgina was simply boring. All her motivations were narrated with Noco in mind, her ex of circumstance. And even he was one note, the same as Nehal. The beginnings of something good, but all around not enough to make me want to learn more.

  • And what little might have drawn me in, the rage inducing sexism each and every woman had to endure, had me rolling my eyes when the women from two different worlds interacted.
  • Etedal was hostile to Nehal upon their first meeting, seemingly blaming her for an arranged marriage that is the result of the sexism she and the other Daughters of Izdihar (a feminist movement) were fighting for!! What!! Why??? Why must women react so hostile to one another, especially when one is trying to understand and the other comes from that feminist movement.

The hostility just makes no sense. And I could smeeeellllll the love triangle coming from a mile and a half away. It’s just not my cup of tea, triangles (lest they end in polyamory) are never that interesting to me. I tried to read this book for a month.


186 reviews 97 followers March 5, 2023 “when you see us here again tomorrow, and the day after that, know that we’re willing to suffer for our rights. know that we welcome death for the sake of freedom.” i’m whelmed, i guess? there are elements of the daughters of izdihar that really appeal to me, namely the egyptian-inspired fantasy world, the sidestepping of the love triangle i was expecting, and the women’s suffrage storyline, but the whole book feels very YA for an adult fantasy.

Nehal in particular reminded me of a YA protagonist: impulsive, immature, inexplicably The Best at weaving despite very little training. i preferred the other MC, giorgina, but even she is underdeveloped, as is the magic system that both women practice. the dialogue is so stilted and unnatural that i found it difficult to invest in any of the relationships—although i did enjoy the burgeoning friendship between nehal and nico—and i found the sapphic subplot and queer side character particularly lacking.

the sapphic relationship borders on instalove and the side character vanishes for most of the book only to conveniently reappear at the very end. for me, this read like a paint-by-numbers YA fantasy—not an unpleasant read, but not at all memorable either.

arcs fantasy lgbtq

127 reviews 30 followers November 7, 2022 Review to come, but would already encourage pre-orders! 289 reviews January 2, 2023 Thank you NetGalley for an e-arc. This book was fantastic. Sumptuous world-building and compelling characters make for an excellent debut in this new middle-eastern inspired adult fantasy duology. I was completely hooked as soon as I started this book but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end.

The thematic work was particularly interesting, covering topics like minority and women’s rights, the paths to achieving societal change as well as more personal topics like owning one’s identity and standing up for one’s self. The writing, overall, was well done. I’m v excited to see how Elsbai’s authorial voice develops.

Based on what I’ve read, she has a very bright future. My only criticism is that some of the writing was a little bit repetitive in places. Though not enough to detract from the overall reading experience. With a bit of tightening in editing and more experience, I have no doubt this won’t be an issue in the future.

One other thing I will mention is that this is a very character-driven, world-building heavy book. There is plot but it doesn’t really kick off towards the end of the book. This won’t be for everyone, so just a heads up. Personally, I loved it (unsurprisingly). Wonderful experience and I can’t wait to read the second book.

Get yourself a copy! PS: I’ll be doing a review of this on my channel very soon. 701 reviews 73 followers February 16, 2023 From very early on in this book, I knew it was special. And as I read it, my obsession with it only grew. It was absolutely fantastic. I was especially impressed with just how quickly I came to root for Giorgina and Nico.


Is the girls I’ve been book LGBT?

THE excitement and fast pace of this thriller are established from the start with three young people thrust into the middle of a bank robbery and being taken hostage. This quick introduction to action sets a tone that grips the reader and pulls them into the intense, volatile and mysterious world of its central character Nora.

Bisexual lead Nora is put in an awkward situation when she must take money from a fundraiser to her small town’s local bank accompanied by both her ex-boyfriend Wes and new girlfriend Iris. However, soon the personal drama between the three teens becomes the least of their problems. When two bank robbers arrive carrying guns and issuing threats, Nora takes to her hostage situation with a surprisingly smooth and analytical approach that intrigues, creating the question of where did she learn all this? While the three of them formulate a plan to get themselves and the other hostages out safely, the truth is slowly revealed both to Iris and us.

Through exciting flashbacks, Nora’s inner monologue and hasty explanations, we learn of her past that was filled with danger. Nora is not her real name. Having grown up with a con artist mother, she has been forced to adopt many names in order to act as a pawn, an innocent girl adding credibility to her mother’s schemes from when she was as young as five.

With this being all she’s ever known, her upbringing was tainted with lies, learning how to recognise and utilise them, developing the skills of a criminal and charm of a performer but constantly being burdened by the absence of identity and the rarity of affection. She escaped this life only when her older sister Lee saved her at age 12, and together they escaped to this small town.

Falling in love with Wes and then Iris, the way in which she values each of them for caring for her, provides much of the emotional heart of this action-packed crisis. Now, however, in front of two of the very few people she has been vulnerable around, she must revisit her old world and the tricks of a con artist in order to save their lives and those of the other innocent strangers trapped in the bank.

Putting Nora into her first crisis situation in years makes for a constantly gripping story I found myself struggling to put down. Every moment, every short chapter reveals more about either Nora or the situation. Switching between the past and present, the stories of each of the girls she has been are revealed, creating a deep sympathy and interest in this character who is, in a more intense way than we all are, a mosaic of her past experiences.

While she must remember how to lie and trick to negotiate their release, Nora also abhors and addresses the trauma she was exposed to in childhood. What is so memorable about this book, is how she copes with her relationships with Wes and Iris and how, with the right people, she can learn for the first time how to only be herself.

Asked By: Clifford Baker Date: created: May 11 2024

Is She Who Became the Sun worth reading

Answered By: Norman Morgan Date: created: May 14 2024

Author 256 books 408k followers Read October 26, 2021 Another wonderful book I found thanks to the reviews of Rebecca Roanhorse, who has never yet steered me wrong! She Who Became the Sun tells the story of Zhu Chongba (early SPOILER: or rather, the story of his younger sister, who assumes his identity after his death).

The new Zhu, passing herself as a boy, rises from the lowest of peasant beginnings to become a monk, and then, well, her fortune urges her to rise ever higher at ever greater risk in the war-torn world of Yuan during the reign of the Mongol emperors. A historical adventure with light touches of fantasy, a heroic tale of the most unlikely hero, a history of clashing armies and personalities in which all sides are equally brave and equally villainous, this novel was so good my only complaint is that now that I’m done, I feel at a loss.

Both main characters, Zhu and Ouyang the eunuch general, are outsiders, outcasts with huge secrets to hide. Both face impossibly tragic lives and loves. They circle each other less as enemies than as counterweights to each others’ inexorable fates. The writing is beautiful and evocative. 2,555 reviews 35.5k followers April 16, 2021 forget ‘the song of achilles’ comparison you just read in the synopsis/publisher pitch. just pretend you never saw it because it will be doing you a disservice. this is not that kind of book. this is more similar to ‘the poppy war.’ its a dark, brutal, unforgiving tale about characters who will do whatever they can in order the achieve what they believe is their fate.

there is no soft, wholesome love in these pages. there are antiheroes who use people and connections in order to serve their purposes. go into this ready for well-written war-heavy descriptions, dense strategic and political maneuvering, unexplainable ghosts, complex characters, interesting motives, and an emotionally charged plot.

this is the kind of book it truly is. its one of history and magic and destiny. thank you tor books for the ARC!! ↠ 4.5 stars 321 reviews 156k followers July 31, 2022 oh god this novel spins out the most beautiful and wounding words about the febrile nature of queer desire, the terrible gnawing feelings of gender dysphoria, the habitable sorrows of unbelonging, and so many moments of fugitive tenderness between unresolvable opposites, and I’m absolutely never going to emotionally recover from it

adult adult-historical adult-sff

1,607 reviews 10.7k followers July 1, 2023 **3.5-stars HEAVILY rounded up** I’m slightly scared to write this review, but I am just going to do it. Bite the bullet, say what I have to say, perhaps ticking a couple of people off along the way. She Who Became the Sun was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I fully expected to give it 5-stars. The first 25%, I was hooked. We meet a young girl, a peasant of the Central Plains of China, who adopts her brother’s identity after he tragically dies. He was fated for greatness while she was fated to die, yet the tables have turned. Now owning his identity, she is able to enter a monastery as a young male novice. The last 25%, I was so engaged. There’s a lot of action, brutal deceptions and pivotal moments that tied me right back into the story. The central portion, however, was a mixed bag for me. I couldn’t focus, my eyes kept glazing over; to be honest, I was bored. With my disappointments out of the way, I will say that Parker-Chan’s writing deserves a full 5-stars, Their ability to create a beautiful sense of place, evoke strong emotions with their characters and seamlessly incorporate multiple perspectives into one linear narrative, is top notch. I did feel like I was transported to 14th-Century China. Additionally, I enjoyed the exploration of gender identity and gender fluidity. With both Zhu and Ouyang, a eunuch general in the Mongol army, their gender identity was a large part of the development of their characters over the course of the story. Obviously, I am giving this book 4-stars. Although I am not sure how many books The Radient Emperor series is slated to be. I will definitely be continuing on. Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and am confident a ton of Readers will love this one!


687 reviews 46k followers January 24, 2023 I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: ARC provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.4.5/5 stars She Who Became the Sun has the bravery to pitch itself as The Song of Achilles meets Mulan and actually live up to it.

If you’re active on bookish social media, you should know that She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is one of the two most hyped books published by Tor Books this year; the other one being The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman. Both of these books have been received praises from many people for the past few months, and with these kinds of huge praises and buzz, there’s the tendency for them to disappoint.

Now, I haven’t read The Blacktongue Thief yet, but the hype for She Who Became the Sun is real and well-deserved. With such a striking cover art illustrated by JungShan Ink—the artist who illustrated the cover art to The Poppy War Trilogy by R.F. Kuang—this historical fiction/fantasy debut managed to live up to all the praises. “Becoming nothing was the most terrifying thing she could think of—worse even than the fear of hunger, or pain, or any other suffering that could possibly arise from life.” She Who Became the Sun is the first book in Radiant Emperor duology, and it’s a reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

The year is 1345, in a famine-stricken village, two children are given two fates; the boy—Zhu Chongba—is destined for greatness, and the girl is fated to become nothing. However, when a bandit attacks this village and orphans the two children, Zhu Chongba succumbs to despair and dies. The girl, with a burning desire to survive no matter what it takes, decides to take Zhu Chongba’s name and steal her brother’s fated greatness.

I loved this book, and I’m genuinely impressed by how well-written this book was, especially remembering that this is a debut novel. The themes of destiny, war, gender, identity, desire, love, and duty were delivered efficiently with much impact; the importance and freedom in our power as an individual to choose, regardless of our circumstances, were spectacularly elaborated.

Seriously, I would be lying if I say that I didn’t feel invigorated by Zhu’s resilience. “Monks were supposed to strive for non-attachment, but that had always been impossible for Zhu: she was more attached to life than any of them could have understood.” Yes, the main character, Zhu Chongba was undoubtedly the main highlight of the book for me.

Her resilience, her cunning, and her desire to live were nothing short of inspiring to me. I’m not saying that I agree with all of her decision, but Parker-Chan’s way of crystallizing Zhu’s motivation to the readers was so superbly-written that I can’t help but felt that I understood Zhu.

Zhu is overall a pragmatic character, and she’s willing to do everything in her power to defy fate, fight, live, and most importantly, she refuses to become nothing. I loved her character’s arc; her moral is colored in grey rather than black and white, and her storyline just felt so believable to me.

“So I always knew you had a strong will. But what’s unusual about you is that most strong-willed people never understand that will alone isn’t enough to guarantee their survival. They don’t realize that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.” Honestly speaking, Parker-Chan did such an excellent job on Zhu’s characterizations, and it made the beginning of Part II worrying for a while.

Here’s the thing, Part 1 of the novel centers entirely on Zhu’s coming-of-age story, and she was the only POV character during this section; the sudden shifts to a multi-POV narrative in Part 2 of the novel took a bit of time for me to get used to, and for a while, I was terrified that this storytelling decision would end up diminishing the quality of the narrative.

Fortunately, my worry was unfounded; the novel only became better because of the change to the multi-POV structure. Ma, Ouyang, and Esen are the other three main characters that, in my opinion, significantly improved the depth and emotions of the novel.

  • Similar to Zhu, these characters have character development and characterizations that felt so organic and well-realized.
  • The character’s respective motivations, agendas, and backgrounds that complex their emotions, relationships, and sense of duty further were so incredible that I couldn’t even imagine how the novel would be like if it was told solely from Zhu’s perspective.

“Desire is the cause of all suffering. The greater the desire, the greater the suffering, and now she desired greatness itself. With all her will, she directed the thought to Heaven and the watching statues: Whatever suffering it takes, I can bear it.” I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the characters and story in this novel won’t be a happy-go-lucky one.

As I said at the beginning of this review, She Who Became the Sun is a reimagining of the rise of the emperor of the Ming Dynasty; if you’re familiar with the history of The Red Turban Rebellion and Zhu Yuanzhang, I’m sure you’ll recognize some—not all—characters involved in Zhu’s story. I personally think it’s more accurate to call She Who Became the Sun a historical fiction—or maybe historical fantasy—than a straight-up fantasy novel; rather than having me barraged you with essays and paragraphs of information regarding the inspirations, I think it would be better for me to give you the link to the author’s website—I advise you to check these only after you finished reading the novel—on the subject of the historical figures instead:

But regardless of genre classification, there’s one thing for sure about She Who Became the Sun ; it is written lyrically and wonderfully. “Learn to want something for yourself, Ma Xiuying. Not what someone says you should want. Not what you think you should want.

Don’t go through life thinking only of duty. When all we have are these brief spans between our non-existences, why not make the most of the life you’re living now? The price is worth it.” Parker-Chan has an immensely desirable writing style that displays her proficiency for storytelling in practically every scene of the book.

Tensions, dialogues, atmosphere, and emotions were conveyed efficaciously, and the pacing of the narrative flowed naturally without hindrance. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a novel destined for greatness, and greatness will be achieved when the publication date has been reached.

Although this is the first book in a duology, rest assured that there’s no cliffhanger, and the book worked well as a standalone. There are still 5 months before this wonderful debut comes out, and I’m already so looking forward to seeing how this duology will be concluded. Claim greatness for yourself.

Claim She Who Became the Sun, Official release date: 22th July 2021 (UK) and 20th July 2021 (US) You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores!) The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.


231 reviews 6,965 followers May 1, 2021 This was probably my most anticipated read of 2021, and I was bitterly disappointed. She Who Became the Sun reminds me of Mulan and The Poppy War, with none of the humor of the former and none of the weight of the latter.

  1. Zhu was like Rin, if Rin had less ambition and less personality.
  2. There were two characters named Chaghan and Altan, which reminded me of TPW.
  3. And a certain character lost a hand, just like in that series.
  4. But maybe I’m looking too much into it.
  5. The only character I liked was Ma.
  6. Her gentle acceptance of Zhu was touching, and her perspective was the most interesting one to me.

The way Zhu finally felt like herself with Ma was beautiful. Zhu, on the other hand, was a very boring character to follow. She was described by other reviewers as ambitious and power-hungry, vicious and merciless. But I didn’t get that. The only time she felt ruthless or clever to me was at the monastery.

I’m not sure if I read a different book, but to me, Zhu hardly deserved what she got in the end. She won a battle and all of a sudden, everyone loves her. She didn’t do anything to prove herself worthy. I did like how we never learned Zhu’s real first name. That aspect of SWBTS reminded me of Rebecca, It was intriguing to read about how the Zhu of before was considered worthless and how the Zhu of after was something special.

However, I didn’t like much else about her character. She’s let off the hook too quickly when she gets into trouble. Her problems are solved by plot convenience, and it felt far too easy to me. Everything happened to quickly, in fact. The pacing was abysmal.

  • Battles were over in a few pages, and I was left with whiplash, wondering what had just happened.
  • And then there would be long stretches where nothing happened at all.
  • The plot was directionless and aimless.
  • The main goal felt murky to me.
  • It was just confusing to read, overall.
  • I felt like I was constantly missing something important, even when I wasn’t.

The exploration of gender and sexuality was perhaps the best part of this book. But other than that, I was very disappointed. The characters were dull, the plot was weak, and the pacing was dreadful. I wanted so badly to rate this five stars, but I just couldn’t.2 stars _ Uneven pacing, poorly developed plot, lackluster characters, and a healthy dose of convenience come together to make one of the most unsatisfying books I’ve read this year.

disappointments failed-romance historical-fiction

494 reviews 2,063 followers December 21, 2021 — find this review and others on my blog! 4.5 stars Just from reading the first few chapters of She Who Became the Sun, I could tell it would become an instant favorite. And it quickly did, with its reprehensible yet loveable characters and devastating finish.

  • A tale dipped in tragedy and written in exquisite prose, this historical fantasy is epic in all senses of the word ; it will captivate you with its intricate character work and unpacking of destiny and gender, and then break your heart.
  • She Who Became the Sun follows Zhu Chongba as the reimagined emperor of the Ming dynasty rising to power.

As a peasant girl, she is fated to amount to nothing, until her brother dies and she snatches the opportunity to cloak herself in his identity and take his own destiny of greatness. She soon becomes a monk and slowly climbs the ranks of the rebel army against the Mongols, thrust into a world of slippery politics, betrayals, and high-stakes battles.

Desire is the cause of all suffering. The greater the desire, the greater the suffering, and now she desired greatness itself. With all her will, she directed the thought to Heaven and the watching statues: Whatever suffering it takes, I can bear it. So much of She Who Became the Sun is brilliant, particularly its characters.

Though Zhu and Ouyang are certainly morally questionable and wretched, and they commit terrible acts, Parker-Chan manages to make you root for them, It’s an even more impressive feat considering that you want both of them to succeed, though they are on opposing sides of a war and it will inevitably result in defeat.

The exploration of themes like destiny and ambition through their arcs is careful and complex, and if the plot is slow-moving at times, you are never once allowed to hold your breath as you watch the characters evolve. Zhu’s ambitions of greatness manifest from an intense desire to live and transform into a ruthless determination to achieve what she wants, no matter the cost.

It’s riveting to watch her move through the story, to watch her grow in power and hunger, and though you sense that she is slowly falling into corruption, you still can’t help but be awed by her cunningness and want her to reach her goals. Her relationship with Ma was also a delight for me; I found it so sweet, and the ending made me incredibly excited to see what direction their romance will head.

Ouyang, on the other hand, is the eunuch general of the Mongol army driven by his perceived need for revenge against the family who stole his own family from him. And even though he is a raging misogynist. I love him! He is such a tragic figure, repulsed by himself, his body, and his longing for Esen (a result of internalized homophobia but also how he is supposed to hate Esen), and it makes for such compelling anguish in a character.

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The romance—more like extreme tension and yearning—between him and Esen was honestly torment to read but only exacerbated Ouyang’s internal struggles. She saw someone who seemed neither male nor female, but another substance entirely: something wholly and powerfully of its own kind.

The promise of difference, made real. She Who Became the Sun is immense in all it encompasses. It builds an expansive world and sets up intricate politics, and the scheming and backstabbing are just as exciting to read as the epic battles. It also takes on several themes like destiny, choice, power, ambition, and gender,

The premise of this book with Zhu having to be her brother to realize her ambitions works so well for studying Zhu’s relationship with her gender, and Ouyang’s feelings about gender intersect brilliantly with his self-hatred tied to his castration. There is a beautiful questioning of what gender is in relation to all the ways it is expected to be performed and how it is perceived, within a patriarchal historical setting.

  1. Perhaps the largest theme throughout the book is destiny, and it is genius how it is portrayed through Zhu and Ouyang as foils to each other.
  2. Zhu chases after destiny, one that wasn’t hers but she will force to be, unwilling to let anything or anyone but herself dictate her fate.
  3. Ouyang, on the other hand, lets himself be shackled by his history and the revenge he believes he is supposed to carry out, however miserable it makes him.

Thus, She Who Became the Sun explores the weight of destiny compared to personal desires, asking if individual choices, actions, and willpower can defy fate. It never lands on a definitive answer, instead portraying the costs both Zhu and Ouyang must pay because of their destinies.

  • Nobody will ever end me.
  • I’ll be so great that no one will be able to touch me, or come near me, for fear of becoming nothing.
  • While the book is certainly something to savor and let seep into you slowly, She Who Became the Sun does an expert job of building up tension and suspense,
  • Throughout the book, you get the sense that something monumental will happen, that it will be tragic too, and yet even if you think you’re ready for the ending, it still manages to shock you and hit you hard.

All the buildup leads to satisfying—and painful—payoff and sets up excellently for the sequel. Though I wouldn’t say the comparison to The Song of Achilles is perfect, you can certainly see why it was made by the end, meaning: you will still be thinking in agony about the ending months after you finish.

  1. If you like books with multifaceted morally grey characters, romance equal parts yearning and angst, or studies of power, revenge, and ambition, you absolutely need to read this.
  2. She Who Became the Sun is undoubtedly radiant and a new force to be reckoned with in the historical fantasy genre, and I am in awe of everything Parker-Chan managed to masterfully tackle in her debut book.

Pick this up, feel my lingering pain and astonishment, and join me in the agonizing wait for the sequel. —★— :: representation :: Chinese and Mongolian cast, genderqueer lesbian MC, genderqueer gay MC, wlw LI, mlm LI :: content warnings :: war themes, murder, death, violence, child murder (off-page), starvation, gender dysphoria, misgendering, internalized homophobia, ableism, amputation, misogyny Thank you to Tor for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4-and-a-half-star adult arc

1,172 reviews 98.8k followers September 18, 2022 had to bring my favorite book to see some of my favorite humans (it was a little too fitting. hehe) <3 my favorite book of the whole year :] ARC provided by TOR - thank you so very much! this was truly so magnificent, and will for sure make my best books of 2021 list (if not my favorite book of the year, too)! but i truly am simply just a ouyang apologist. Content and Trigger Warnings : starvation, loss of a loved one, death, murder, mass murder, gore, war themes, brief mention of cannibalisms, hurt to an animal, death of an animal, mention of slavery, non-consensual castration in past, mention of vomiting, plague, mass illness, quarantining, off-page torture, bombs, many mentions of alcohol consumption/maybe alcoholism, off-page death of a child, depression depiction, fear of being outed, misgendering (always in a negative light), and just a lot of internalized body/gender feelings - this book can be heavy at times, so please use caution.

adult arc buddy-reads

Author 55 books 8,055 followers June 23, 2021 An absolute stunner. Move this to the top of your TBR pile and buckle up. First, a note about the comps. Comps are funny things, and the industry loves them, and some readers love them, too, but I’m not sure the comps on this one (Mulan and Song of Achilles) do this book justice.

Yes, there’s a girl who disguises herself as a boy and becomes a general but not out of duty or honor or any of that noble stuff. She does it because she covets. She wants. She sees a destiny meant for another and seizes it as her own, and she continues to take and take in ways both horrifying and laudable until the ending which will make you gasp and wonder about the cost of it all.

Definitely not Disney. The second plotline (the Achilles plotline) in the book belongs to the “enemy” but that’s such an oversimplification that I’m embarrassed I used it. And oh, what a doozy of a story it is. It had been a long time since I’ve seen a character as complex and nuanced and infuriating and heartbreaking as this one.

In a word, I loved him. I wish I’d written him, he’s so good. But clearly it was meant for Parker-Chan to bring him to life as only she could. (Also, Patroclus could never.) The story, much like the characters, is ambitious and clever and the depth of emotion Parker-Chan is able to tap into without ever becoming maudlin is astounding.

I caught my breath more than once and had to stop and read whole paragraphs to my husband they were so good. (He’s not a reader, but I like the think he appreciated them.) There’s war and violence and betrayal (oh the betrayal) and destiny both embraced and defied. 327 reviews 1,808 followers September 24, 2021 ↠ 4.5 stars This was pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles, and it was that and so much more. A glorious epic in every sense of the word. Fate is a tricky thing, and after hearing a fortune teller give reference to her brother’s destiny for greatness, the girl expects to hear very much the same.

  • However, her own destiny is revealed to be just that: nothing.
  • While her brother is fated to rise up and leave his mark upon the world, she is expected to fade from view, unremembered.
  • Starving and desperate, an unexpected event changes the trajectory of her entire future.
  • She takes her chance, seizing her brother’s identity and assuming his fate in the process.

Under this new circumstance, she may just find freedom, glory, and a way to change her destiny forever. She Who Became the Sun is, simply put, a masterpiece of a debut. It’s a powerful, evocative, and brutal high fantasy that will leave you utterly wrecked and begging for more.

Parker-Chan blends history with fiction in this sweeping story that chronicles Zhu Yuanzhang’s ascent to power and the rise of the Ming Dynasty in 14th century China. It’s the perfect novel for anyone looking for complex characters set amid a backdrop where loyalties are tested and the stakes are high.

The lyrical prose paints a vibrant picture of a war-torn period, reimagined, but ultimately true to its roots. Right from the get go, I was pulled into the ambitious nature of the narrative amidst its definitive passion and decisive action. I straight up devoured this in under a few hours and then realized I would have to suffer in silence since none of my friends had finished reading.

What it means to be an arc reviewer am I right? The exploration of gender and gender identity, tied up in a story that is so brilliantly queer, is the true hero of all of this though. There was a very nuanced conversation taking place within the novel, that I appreciate and can tell will be carried over into the next installment.

To see a character that was not only flawed and determined, but honest with themselves about their own identity and who they are, was incredibly powerful to read. Looking forward to seeing just how that evolves in the next book. And my God, that ending.

arcs love

625 reviews 2,016 followers March 15, 2022 *ARC sent by the publisher -Tor/Macmillan- for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* This is the queer epic fantasy we all needed. At its heart, this book was about grief and perseverance. and how both can mean something different and is showcased differently on individual people,

However tired I am, however hard it is: I know I can keep going, because I’m alive.” Before reading, I didn’t know what exactly to expect with ” Mulan meets The Song of Achilles ” but it is just that, while being so painfully aware of it’s own setting that reminds me more of The Poppy War with its brutal nature.

Accompanied by a unique perspective, charming yet complex cast, lyrical prose, and immersive writing style that hits all the right emotions. — overall thoughts: 4.5 — if you are sensitive to triggering content please read the end of this review for content warnings This did still feel like it was opening to a broader world and I honestly cannot wait to see where Shelley Parker Chan goes with the rest of the books.

  • If you are looking for an in-depth and intricate magic system, I should say that you won’t really be getting that for this first installment at least.
  • There’s still a magical/fantastical element to it but it’s more on the backdrop and used to propel character development.
  • She Who Became the Sun is a character-driven story that explores the internal politics of a ruling body and economics of war that highlights the journey these characters experience and while it does deal with heavy and dark themes— this read like a historical c-drama (in the best way possible) packed with a truck load of thought provoking moments that was brilliantly tied together while being so unflinchingly queer At it’s core, it’s about people trying to believe in their own fate in a society that sees them different ⚔️ The way discussions on gender roles and gender identity were weaved into a plot about war was just *chefs kiss* with nuanced conversations that will keep you reading The dual POV was incredibly intriguing since you get to see the conflict progress from both sides progress.

One of my favorite aspects was the fact that our two main characters weren’t each other’s love interest, Shelley Parker Chan could have so easily made it a star-crossed lovers scenario and I’m so happy they didn’t. It benefitted the war narrative and made for way more interesting romances anyway.

  1. Some other details you can find: – morally grey characters.
  2. Villain origin story style -14th century china -yearning generals -forbidden romance -platonic relationships -complicated relationships -family drama -ghosts ↣ If you’re looking for a fast-paced, emotional, and dark fantasy that revolves around war (just the way I like it) that is built on solid themes, high stakes, and will keep you turning the page while entrancing you the whole way through.

here you go ☀️ I have too many words and I don’t know if I got across how much I loved this book but I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story plays out 💛 ↢ This was a refreshing historical fantasy debut and further deepens my love for this niche of a genre.

  1. I already know this is going to be iconic.
  2. Content warnings// Ableism, Amputation, Castration (non-consensual, pre-existing), Death, Dysphoria, Homophobia (internalized), Misgendering, Murder (child), Physical Abuse, Public Execution, Sex (Consensual), Starvation, Torture (non-graphic), Violence ✧ you can find this review and more on my blog ✧ – (2/20/21) (1/9/21) I can’t believe I’m saying this but.

I got an ARC – – (12/4/20) you can’t pitch a book as “will wreck you and you will be grateful” and be ANOTHER ASIAN INSPIRED BOOK without expecting me to be interested. Not possible.

2021-releases arcs author-bipoc

1,990 reviews 298k followers Shelved as ‘dnf’ March 2, 2022 DNF – pg.192 Can anyone tell me if this book picks up again? I was really enjoying Part 1, up until about page 80, and now we’ve skipped some time and introduced several new characters who are constantly talking about winning battles. It’s very dry and boring. Does it get any better?

2022 fantasy historical

551 reviews 60.4k followers June 25, 2022 (3.5) This book started so strong, I thought this was going to be a new favorite book and an easy five stars. Sadly, I had issues with the pacing (even had to go back a couple of times because I thought I had missed something). I wasn’t invested in the political intrigue as much as I would have wanted. I did root for the romance (for once!) but 249 reviews 986 followers August 20, 2021 Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.3.5 stars It was a rocky start. And a rocky middle. But Shelley Parker-Chan’s historical epic fantasy novel, She Who Became the Sun, won me over in the end.

At least enough to where I want to read the sequel. Set in an alternate China, She Who Became the Sun is a fantastical, genderqueer retelling of the founding of the Ming dynasty. The story follows the female monk, Zhu Chongba, from childhood to early adulthood, as she assumes her dead brother’s identity and fights to claim his destiny as her own.

It’s a big story with big characters and a lot of big things happening in it. And I struggled with it. I struggled to connect with Zhu, to stay engaged in the story, and to NOT pick up a different book instead. Because She Who Became the Sun is just too big for its 400 pages.

  • Being relatively slim in size for an epic fantasy novel, its shortish length cramps the development of the story and Zhu’s characterization.
  • For starters, way too much of the plot occurs off page.
  • We are blind to almost all climactic events, whether they occur during Zhu’s monastic life or during the war, and we hardly ever see any action.

Momentous incidents at the monastery and battles between the Red Turbans and Mongols are skimmed over, with Parker-Chan never taking the time to tell the story of any of it. It’s as if important pieces of the puzzle are missing. And then there’s the problem of Zhu.

  1. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get inside her head.
  2. Very little of the narrative is devoted to her childhood and formative monastic years, and her skimpy backstory keeps the reader at arm’s length.
  3. And thanks to the stunted plot, Zhu comes across as flatly one-dimensional and less realized than the secondary characters.

It’s extremely difficult to ever truly know her. Typically, I’m not one to think, “The longer the book, the better.” But in this case, I do believe She Who Became the Sun would’ve been better had it been longer. There’s just too much good story here and too few pages.

  • It’s an opportunity sadly wasted.
  • But I’m hanging in.
  • Through it all, Parker-Chan managed to sufficiently hook me to where I can’t let Zhu go quite yet.
  • I must see how her story ends.
  • Fingers crossed the second half is a tad bit bigger,
  • My sincerest appreciation to Shelley Parker-Chan and Tor Books for the physical Advance Review Copy.

All opinions included herein are my own. Bantering Books Instagram Twitter Facebook


Author 5 books 3,342 followers Read June 24, 2021 Hello friends, this contains content warnings for SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN. SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN is a book about gender identity (amongst other things). While the two genderqueer protagonists reflect aspects of my own experiences of genderqueerness, this doesn’t mean these perspectives are necessarily affirming to any other LGBTQIA+ identifying persons. 3,535 reviews 9,942 followers November 11, 2021 MY REVIEW: 4.5 Stars ⭐️ I loved the main character, Zhu! She does whatever she has to do, disguising herself as her brother, to survive and make her claim to fame so to speak. (Turns out the seerer was correct, read the book) There are other wonderful characters in the book, even the villains are fleshed out nicely.

And everyone in the the book has some kind of underlying issues. Some would say Zhu is a villain of sorts but she just does whatever she has to in this world and to me, I just can’t not like her! There are battles, I mean obviously. I would just recommend reading this book so you can meet some great characters for yourself.

You just might find your next gem! *I would like to thank Tor for offering me to read this book through, Netgalley. I’ve never been offered to read a book from Tor so I greatly appreciate it and that you to Netgalley. Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot.

fantasy-all netgalley-all

782 reviews 12.4k followers December 26, 2022 I think it all comes down to me not being an ambitious person. I could not care less about desiring “greatness for the sake of power, especially if the path to that power is paved with bones. I don’t care if future degenerations would know my name — who the hell cares when you’re dead and are worm food? And that probably where my issues with this book lie.

Determined pursuit of “greatness” and power at all costs as well as storylines centered on obligation for revenge tend to leave me cold. “But even as the thought came to her, she knew she wouldn’t give up greatness. Not for a child’s life, and not even to prevent the suffering of the people she loved, and who loved her.

Because it was what she wanted.” I suppose this can be a story of beginnings of a ruthless ruler, a tyrant, or at least the now-popular ambiguous shades-of-grey character. But even then the relentless march to the goal did not touch my heart, although intellectually I appreciated a few narrative turns and decisions.

But once we move from survival to power grab, my attention began to wane. And once an interesting character ended up revenge-obsessed, my attention really wandered off. “Becoming nothing was the most terrifying thing she could think of—worse even than the fear of hunger, or pain, or any other suffering that could possibly arise from life.” The setting of a 14th century Mongol-occupied China in the middle of Red Turban rebellion was quite interesting.

Two protagonists with identities forged by circumstances — Zhu, a young woman due to circumstances willingly adopting a male identity and Ouyang, a eunuch slave moving on up to become a general and best friend to the son of a ruler who castrated him, and two standout secondary characters – Ma and Wang — made for a very compelling set-up.

  1. Yes, an unexpected random fisting scene made for a cringeworthy moment, but that’s okay).
  2. The politics were not too boring either, even if at times all the scheming seemed too much, and Zhu’s ascent often appeared to hinge too much on sheer luck, coincidences and handwaving in the absence of actual tactical or military skills.

But still it just didn’t touch that special place in my heart that makes me go all goooogoooo over a story. Which is too bad. But really, it’s a case of “It’s me, dear book, it’s not you”. And I still may try a sequel. Maybe there will be more Ouyang and less Zhu in it.3 non-ambitious stars.

“She found herself searching desperately inside herself for any alien sensation that might harbor that red spark—the seed of greatness, pressed into her spirit by Heaven itself. But to her despair, there was nothing new to find. There was only the same thing that had always been there: the white core of her determination that had kept her alive all these years, giving her the strength to keep believing she was who she said she was.

It wasn’t what she wanted, but it was all she had. For a moment she felt that old vertiginous pull of fate. But she had already launched herself in pursuit of it; there was no going back. Don’t look down as you’re flying, or you’ll realize the impossibility of it and fall.”

2022-reads hugo-nebula-nominees-and-winners

Author 59 books 8,603 followers Read December 10, 2021 Absolutely tremendous alt-historical epic with a touch of magic. A nameless unwanted peasant girl takes on her dead brother’s name to become a monk, a warrior, a leader. Tremendous sweep and narrative drive with a beautifully drawn cast, especially the profoundly fucked-up eunuch general Ouyang, who is heartbreaking, and a lot of pure rage at patriarchy and misogyny, and a great deal on what power really means, and is worth, and is for.

china fantasy queer

578 reviews 2,196 followers August 15, 2021 She Who Became the Sun is one of my Top 5 Anticipated Releases of 2021, and the first of those 5 that I’ve read. And I’m utterly delighted that it did not disappoint at all. A historical retelling that follows a lowly girl as she steals her brother’s name and illustrious fate to rise from peasant to monk to military commander (and in the sequel, emperor), it is a book that shines with Zhu’s desire for the fate of greatness. full rtc to come when it’s not 2am. (will say I’m not entirely sold on the use of The Song of Achilles as a comp title and I wonder why they used it, as the only similarities are that they’re both loose retellings with strong military aspects,, also pretty queer,, also some trauma and heartbreak that made me cry,, okay maybe I see it, a bit) – still, my comps for this would be The Poppy War (determined heroines, military aspects, both influenced by Chinese history), Sistersong (both reimaginings with leads that engage with gender identity), and And I Darken (another historical reimagining where a prominent male leader is reimagined as a woman). > 4.5 stars! * This contains SO MANY OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS that I’m vibrating of excitement – founding emperors!! – the Ming dynasty!! – (kinda) Ancient China!! – beautiful villain PINING AFTER A PURE PRINCE OH MY GOD – lots of long, billowing sleeves – it was comp’d to THE SONG OF ACHILLES so I’ll be crying in sorrow by the end I imagine – the author likes the untamed so they’re my favourite person now

antiheroes asian-insp-inf-fantasy bipoc-ownvoices-fantasy

645 reviews 3,269 followers August 24, 2021 2.75⭐️ RTC Ooof. I could not have been reading what everyone else was. 199 reviews 738 followers August 13, 2021 2/5 stars This was my most anticipated book of the year and FUCK I’m disappointed. I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either, and I was SURE I was going to love this book the second I saw that beautiful cover.

  1. Alas this book was simply okay.
  2. Now when I heard about it, I was thrilled: a reimagined story about the Ming dynasty’s rise to power with fantasy elements and an ambitious female protagonist? Take all of my money! This synopsis actually feels a bit like false advertising.
  3. Zhu (our reimagined Emperor) was only one of many POVs in this book.

We get POV chapters from Ouyang, a eunuch general forced to serve the Prince who slaughtered his family, Esen, the son of said Prince and best friend to Ouyang, and Ma Xiuying, the daughter of a rebel warlord. So in total, the character and story I mainly signed up for only accounted for maybe a third of this book.

My American hardback (the Australia/UK cover of this one was hideous when compared to the beautiful art on this edition) doesn’t even mention any of these other people in the synopsis on the cover. It only mentions Zhu and her desired rise to power. I feel betrayed and lied to 🙁 But this isn’t the book’s only problem: the pacing was absolutely awful.

Chapter 1 of this book was beautiful, perfect and everything I wanted. I was very excited. And then the rest of this book happens and, What the hell? We get ZERO battle scenes! We simply skip past them! In fact, we skip past MANY events that I would have liked to read about.

And the political scheming was nowhere near compelling enough to make up for this. There were no scenes of political machinations and the characters being sneaky and conniving. Things just happen in between the scenes we see. This book is quite short for this kind of story (about 400 pages long) which definitely didn’t help.

It felt like scenes were missing from the story. Everything felt so surface-level. We get almost no scenes of characters just reflecting and thinking about their actions or their plans or their relationships to others. Because of this, I didn’t believe the depth of pretty much any of the relationships in this book.

Ouyang obviously loves Esen but we get no proof of that or any scenes of them just chilling and showing their relationship. Ma and Zhu are quite good and believable, but I don’t believe Ma is as devoted to Zhu as the story would have us believe. Ouyang and Zhu supposedly have this incredible bond ordained by Heaven but they barely interact or know one another.

This bond exists just because. This book desperately needed MORE. My plan is that Brandon Sanderson gives some of his character page-time from Rhythm of War to this book and boom the world is in alignment. I will still read book 2 because I’m intrigued about what’s going to happen and eager to learn more about this part of history, but I’m nowhere near as excited about it as I should be.

2-stars 2021-reads adult-fantasy

Author 29 books 21.4k followers April 2, 2021 Magnificent in every way. War, desire, vengeance, politics – Shelley Parker-Chan has perfectly measured each ingredient of this queer historical epic. Glinting with bright rays of wit and tenderness, yet unafraid to delve into the deep shadows of human ambition, She Who Became the Sun, like Zhu, is unquestionably destined for greatness.

all-time-favourites feminist-topics great-couples

709 reviews 1,325 followers August 20, 2021 3.5 stars History, gay romance, ambition, war, backstabbing and dead people everywhere 💀 This book was so elaborate, so complex, with exceptional historical representation and I’m shocked this is a debut. The talent™! The choice of putting these characters with contrasting personalities together was also very smart: I mean, a prince loved by everyone and a broody introverted general? That’s an easy win.

A cold-hearted sarcastic resolute monk and a kind altruistic maternal woman? No need to say more. I found the subtle discourse on gender identity to be just awesome. Having two characters on the opposite specter but dealing with their bodies and society norms in a similar way was pretty clever. You see two sides of the same coin which definitely makes you appreciate a bigger picture of the issue.

When I started this book I had no idea what I was getting into. Part 1 has a very different feel from the rest of the book. During the period at the monastery you have the time to get to know Zhu while she grows up and I really enjoyed seeing the way she changed through the years (which I now know that was only the tip of the iceberg, so you have way more shenanigans to look forward to than that 😬).

From Part 2 the book completely changes direction and goes deep into war and brutal politics. I love that at one point I started wondering if anyone would stay alive by the time the end would come around. Despite having liked this book, the writing and I.let’s say we didn’t mesh well. It’s elaborate and complex, and it perfectly complements the historical setting, but it was too dense for my tastes.

These are some issues I had during my reading experience: – The writing was very descriptive but I still had trouble visualizing places and characters in my head. – I wasn’t able to really warm to any of the characters because they felt too distant. – Some elements of the plot/world building are given for granted (in particular a thing that concerns Ouyang) and there’s nothing to do apart from ignoring that it’s not explained and getting used to it.

  • Those are big plot points though, and not understanding where they come from is confusing and very far from ideal.
  • There are a lot of time skips after the first 50 pages and at that point the narrative started to feel kind of diluted for me because I couldn’t directly read about the struggles the characters were going through.

This happens especially with battles: you rarely see them actually fighting, you only learn about the outcome. I’m pretty sure this is a duology and with the way this ended I’m really interested to see where the conclusion will go. Those last chapters were wild! “I can’t believe what Ouyang did,” she says staring into space.

  1. However I’m going to have to find the courage to pick it up because this one took me a month and it’s only 400 pages lol.
  2. I hope the next one has more magic, this first book was centered a lot on history rather than fantasy.
  3. I received an advanced reader copy through Netgalley.
  4. All opinions are my own.

****** I NEED 2020 TO BE OVER I’m blaming it on The Poppy War for making me this hungry for new fantasy takes on Chinese history. who do I have to bribe for this one?

arcs high-fantasy historical-fantasy

720 reviews 1,112 followers September 22, 2021 “You won’t be the one to make me nothing.” 3.5 ⭐️ I was gripped in the beginning but started losing interest by the end. There was a lot to love in here. Zhu begins her life in severe poverty, with her father and brother in a world where girls are worth absolutely nothing.

  1. When her father and brother die Zhu chooses to take on her brothers identity and in turn his fate, rather than face her own fate of becoming nothing.
  2. I loved Zhu’s determination, her absolute refusal to give up, whatever it takes.
  3. She manages to get into a monastery and become a monk.
  4. I was pretty enthralled, but about half way (ish) when she joins the war and becomes a commander I starting fading out.

There is a lot of talk of war strategy, and a lot of names. I loved the focus on gender, and how Zhu sees herself, it was a really interesting perspective. I did like it, hence the 3 stars. Just not enough to push it to 4. “”I might not know your namebut I know who you are.” ***************************** I wanted to be petty and not read this book.

I was offered an ARC by the publisher and was then promptly ghosted. I wanted to sulk and think “screw you then.” However: 1. Much as I like to kick off in my head. I’m not really a petty or grudgy person irl.2. Not the authors fault their publishers are out of order.3. This book does sound flipping great.4.

My library has a copy available so why the heck not?!

epic-fantasy romance war

266 reviews 14k followers January 9, 2022 Un fantasy storico che riscrive in chiave fantastica, queer e femminista la storia di Zhu Yuanzhang, il contadino ribelle che nella Cina del XIV secolo cacciò i mongoli, unificò il Paese e divenne il primo imperatore della gloriosa dinastia Ming.

  1. Debutto ambizioso quello di Parker-Chan, scrittrice australiana, di origine asiatica, ex-diplomatica con un’esperienza decennale nella lotta per i diritti civili, la parità di genere e la cancellazione delle discriminazioni a danno della comunità LGBT nel sud-est asiatico.
  2. In “Lei che divenne il sole” mitologia occidentale e orientale si mescolano vivacemente all’esplorazione del folclore della società cinese del 1300 (senza diventare un pasticciaccio di luoghi comuni), ma non è nell’accuratezza storica che dobbiamo cercare i meriti del romanzo, non privo di tentennamenti e forti fragilità strutturali, a cominciare da un intreccio che si dispiega in maniera piuttosto inverosimile con svolte narrative acrobatiche e coincidenze degne del Dottor Zivago in cui la Russia zarista sembra ridotta ad un territorio grande come un pugno chiuso e in cui assistiamo a continui incontri (s)fortuiti.

A Pasternak si perdona tutto perché compensa con picchi di lirismo malinconico e disperato tra i più alti della letteratura mondiale, Shelley Parker-Chan invece si difende grazie a una costruzione sapiente di personaggi queer marginalizzati ma talentuosi ed è proprio la rinuncia al vittimismo e all’afflizione che rendono il libro un godibilissimo intrigo fanta-politico: la scelta di raccontare una storia sulle mille sfaccettature dell’identità di genere e sulle potenzialità di ogni individuo è il focus della trama, la tessitura di relazioni non convenzionali e lo sviluppo di personalità – se non propriamente complesse – diverse dai canoni, che non si posizionano in schieramenti binari, divisi tra bene e male ma che lottano per la sopravvivenza come strateghi, abituati a scelte poco condivisibili e fuori dagli schemi di una società repressiva e autoritaria.

  1. Nessun miracolo letterario anche perché il grande difetto del romanzo è l’incertezza nel tono di voce – a tratti drammatico ed epico, a tratti umorista ma senza una chiarissima definizione di un registro stilistico distintivo -ma rimane un romanzo perfetto per chi ama Mulan.
  2. Con una bella dose aggiuntiva di morti.

SPOILER: BTW, sono l’unica ad essere rimasta delusa dalla mancanza di approfondimento sui fantasmi? Ah, certo, dimenticavo di dirvi che è una serie. Quanto detesto le serie.

donne fantasy intrattenimento-puro

1,437 reviews 4,046 followers February 18, 2023 | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | This book OBLITERATED me 🙃 ” Desire is the cause of all suffering. All Zhu had ever desired was to live. Now she felt the pure strength of that desire inside her, as inseparable as her breath or qi, and knew she would suffer from it.

She couldn’t even begin to imagine the awful magnitude of the suffering that would be required to achieve greatness in the chaotic, violent world outside.” While I can see why She Who Became the Sun has drawn comparisons to Mulan (we have Zhu ‘posing’ as a man), The Song of Achilles (we have a ‘close’ bond between two soldiers, one a lord the other a general), and The Poppy War (harsh backdrop + war/battles + main characters who do questionable things), what this novel really reminded of Mary Renault’s historical novels (like her Alexander the Great trilogy).

But brutal. I mean, x1000 more brutal (so, think Mary Renault + you are being sucker-punched). “All of it had been nothing more than the mechanistic motion of the stars as they brought him this opportunity: the path to his fate. And once he stepped upon it there would be no turning back.

It was an opportunity he wanted, and at the same time it was the very last thing he wanted: it was a future too horrible to bear. But even as he prevaricated and agonized, and shrank from the thought of it, he knew it wasn’t a matter of choice. It was his fate, the thing no man can ever refuse.” In this reimagining of the life of Zhu Yuanzhang, the peasant-turned-emperor founder of the Ming Dynasty, Parker-Chan transports her readers to Mongol-occupied imperial China.

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Famine, poverty, plagues From the very opening pages we are plunged into a harsh and unforgiving world. In 1345 the Zhu children, a boy and a girl from the famine-stricken Zhongli village are given opposing fortunes. The boy, Zhu Chongba, is promised ‘greatness’, his “deeds will bring a hundred generations of pride to family name”.

The girl’s fate? “Nothing”. Yet, after a bandit attack leaves them orphaned it is the boy who is unable to recover while the girl refuses to succumb to despair. After his death, the girl claims his name and fate. The ‘new’ Zhu Chongba refuses to accept her former fate and will do whatever it takes not only to survive but thrive.

Zhu goes on to become a novice at the Wuhuang Monastery, and as the years go by the more her conviction that she will be great is cemented. When the unrest against Mongol rule grows Zhu, now a monk, joins forces with the Red Turbans, a group of peasant rebels.

In her ruthless quest for greatness, Zhu will stop at nothing. Driven by the certainty that she will be great, Zhu slowly rises among the ranks of rebels, demonstrating time and again that to win a war one needs more than swordsmanship or physical strength. The more powerful Zhu becomes the more she craves, but how far is too far? We also follow Ouyang, a eunuch of Nanren blood, formerly a slave and now a general in the Mongol army (the people responsible for exterminating his family and enslaving him).

Ouyang too is following what he believes to be his fate, even if he knows that this path will lead in pain (my pain, Parker-Chan, if you are reading this you broke my effin heart). As the narrative progresses, Zhu and Ouyang’s fate become irrevocably and terribly entwined.

One is hungry for greatness, the other, revenge. She Who Became the Sun is an epic historical fantasy and probably one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. While I was not familiar with this era/setting (predictably, the little I knew about Mongolia concerns ‘the’ Genghis Khan, aka Temüjin, and I knew next-to-nothing about 14th century China—I love wuxia films but they are not entirely reliable) Parker-Chan does a fantastic job in immersing her readers in this period of Mongolian/Chinese history.

In that way, she brought to mind Renault who also excelled in evoking ancient cultures and peoples without making her readers feel overwhelmed or confused. Parker-Chan does not shy away from portraying the grim realities faced by people like Zhu and Ouyang.

In addition to famines and plagues, we have battles between Mongols and the Red Turbans who seek to free themselves from their cruel rule. Rather than portraying either faction as inherently good or bad, Parker-Chan populates her story with characters who are all varying degrees of terrible (Ma, daughter to a Red Turban general, and Xu Da, Zhu’s monastery ‘brother’ are perhaps the only not-so-morally ambiguous characters).

Zhu and Ouyang are no heroes. They are, to different extents and purposes, self-serving, and willing to commit acts of horrific violence to fulfil their fates (even if it means betraying their loved ones). Yet, given what we learn about them, in other words, their circumstances, readers will have a hard time condemning or judging them.

Parker-Chan’s unadorned prose perfectly complements the severe world inhabited by Zho and Ouyang. For all its apparent simplicity, Parker-Chan’s writing packs a punch. We have emotionally charged dialogues, precise and clever descriptions about the characters (their motivations, fears, natures), and some fantastic fighting sequences.

It just goes to show how talented a writer Parker-Chan is but I was gripped by scenes focusing on military strategy (something I am not usually all that wowed by). There are also surprising moments of humor that offer brief yet desperately needed moments of levity (Zhu’s ‘pious’ act was a delight to read).

  1. The narrative is otherwise fraught with tension.
  2. The fantasy elements were also very well-done.
  3. Although they are seamlessly incorporated into the historical backdrop they did add a certain atmosphere to the story.
  4. In addition to a gripping storyline and a detailed historical setting Parker-Chan also brings to the table a complex cast of characters.

Their shifting allegiances and dynamics made the story all the more captivating. Zhu is no hero(ine). She is hellbent on getting what she wants (greatness) and while she isn’t wholly morally reprehensible she is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Her relationship with Xu Da and Ma were wonderfully compelling, even heart-rendering.

  1. Aaaand, now I have to talk about Ouyang and I cannot even. Dio mio,
  2. This man is terrible but that did not stop me from loving him.
  3. I swear, I felt ‘all the feels’ each scene he was in.
  4. The man is literally haunted.
  5. His tortured self-loathing reaches highs not even Adam Parrish would dream of.
  6. My heart broke for him, time and again.

His storyline managed to be even more devastating than Zhu’s one. I am never going to shut up about him. Just thinking about him makes me wanna curl in a ball and cry. At its heart, Parker-Chan’s novel is about power, survival, and fate. Parker-Chan pushes Zhu and Ouyang to their limits, putting them in impossible situations and pitting them against each other (we have more than one scene where I could not for the life of me root for either Zhu and Ouyang, hoping against hope that they could just set their weapons aside and become best buds.I am delusional I know).

In addition, Parker-Chan subverts traditional gender roles and notions of masculinity and gifts us with an A+ queer romance and a complicated relationship with a lot of yearning (when their hands brushed I was a goner). It took me 40 pages or so to really get into the story but once I was ‘in’ I was 100% invested in both the story and the characters.

This novel is gripping, brutal, poignant, distressing and full of jaw-dropping moments. The betrayals and political intrigue made the novel all the more engrossing. I don’t often use the word epic to describe a novel but She Who Became the Sun demands it.

1-crème-de-la-crème 2-absolute-favorites 3-favorites

903 reviews 1,815 followers April 1, 2022 If I divide this book in 3 parts then first and last were fantastic but middle was dry and boring in comparison to the other two. Characters of Zhu and Ouyang bound me to the story but others characters didn’t impress me as much. The world building was good but I have read better. If you are looking for a page turner, this is not it.

2020-29 2022 3-star

875 reviews November 16, 2021 Nominated for both the best debut novel and best fantasy/sci-fi category in this year’s Goodreads choice award! Epic, convincing, with multiple sides and characters to root for and as much drama and blood feuds as the Illiad Pure emotions are the luxury of animals and children.

Enjoyed this a lot, very epic, with both the gender bending and the Chinese background executed effortlessly and convincingly. She Who Became the Sun tells the reimagined rise of the Ming dynasty (for anyone interested: Starting of viscerally with hunger and deprivation, including some horrid choices people need to make in respect to their children, the main character takes over the role of her dead brother and his path to greatness.

This might give some Mulan vibes, but the road to greatness is paved with a lot of uncomfortable decisions and there is no change to keep one’s hand clean. Also Shelley Parker-Chan her writing gave me some vibes of Avatar The Last Airbender, with references to a spirit world.

Starting with a power move against her tutor in a monastery, the protagonist is soon drawn into the conflict between the failing Mongol dominated Yuan dynasty and factions of Han Chinese that strive to reclaim control over the Middle Kingdom. Soon the main character finds themselves in a viper nest, and needs to pull off inventive ways to gain the upper hand to better equipped and larger armies.

She Who Became the Sun | Non-Spoiler Review

Using the spirit world and modern inventions as weapons, and being constantly underestimated as a monk. Against them a general of the Yuan, eunuch and also a kind of third gender with a infatuation to his master, has its own schemes, leading to truly epic confrontations and scenes befitting Kill Bill.

  • There is immolation, flaying alive, book burning, accidents with jittery horses, banishment, people ripped apart by 5 horses, the brutality of the pre-modern world is not sugarcoated in any way.
  • I did start to wonder a bit what the whole ideology/philosophy of the great Yuan is, besides offering stability.

But overall the conflict is depicted in a spectacular fashion and one can root (or at least understand) both sides. There is so much callousness, between everyone: ambition and the possibility to shape one’s one fate through sacrifices to one’s very soul seems the key motives in this book.

While reading I had most affinity with Lord Wang his rants on the importance of economic sound administration, and in general I feel that many of the side characters are very well drawn, with only Ma the pure and innocent being a bit annoying. This would be a great anime or a series like Game of Thrones, while being a very solid book.

Looking forward to part 2 and any adaptations of this great story. Bad ass quotes: It wasn’t something she wanted so much it was an escape for what she feared. You may have ended this, but you haven’t ended me. He had a wound as heart. Feeling safe meant feeling hidden.

Does She Who Became the Sun end on a cliffhanger?

Overview – She Who Became the Sun (2021) by Shelley Parker-Chan is a historical and LGBTQ+ fantasy novel set during the decline of the Yuan dynasty in China. The novel is based on the premise that the founding emperor of the subsequent Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang (called Zhu Chongba in the novel), was assigned female at birth (AFAB).

A 2022 Lambda Finalist for Transgender Fiction and the first Australian novel to win a Hugo award, She Who Became the Sun is Parker-Chan’s debut novel. This guide references the United States edition of the book published by Tor. Content Warning: The book contains instances of degrading/dehumanizing language regarding gender, references/depictions of graphic executions and violent deaths, and depictions of explicit (consensual) sex.

Zhu is a peasant girl in a village suffering from famine and other calamities. She is told that her brother, Chongba, is destined for greatness, while she is destined for nothing. After the deaths of her father and brother, Zhu takes on her brother’s identity and enters Wuhuang Monastery as a novice.

During this time, Zhu encounters Ouyang and feels an instant connection. Ouyang returns years later and destroys the monastery, forcing Zhu to seek her fate with the Red Turbans, a group of Nanren (i.e., southern Chinese) rebels. There, Zhu meets Ma Xiuying, her future wife. Desperate to survive the upcoming battle against Ouyang, who leads the Mongol Prince of Henan’s military, and claim her new fate, Zhu causes a landslide; the resulting displaced water destroys the Mongol forces.

Ouyang is a competent general. He is also a eunuch, castrated as punishment for his father’s rebellion against the Yuan. He witnessed his family’s massacre and enslavement. Ouyang was also enslaved and given to the prince’s Mongol son, Esen. After the landslide, the prince, named Chaghan, is enraged and humiliates Ouyang.

Ouyang vows vengeance for his family’s demise. Even as he strategizes for the Mongols, he gathers Nanren allies for a coup. Lord Wang Baoxiang, Esen’s cousin/adopted brother, is another victim of Chaghan’s ire—Wang, half Nanren and half Mongolian, is a bureaucrat, not a warrior; when he refuses to lead his men into battle, Chaghan punishes him by giving his land away to a rival noble.

The Red Turban leaders are impressed with Zhu. Her next task is to capture the city of Lu. On the way, Zhu reunites with her friend Xu Da, who joins her. During their infiltration of the city, Zhu makes a deal with the former governor’s widow, Lady Rui: if Rui surrenders to the Red Turbans, she can rule the city.

Rui agrees as long as Zhu kills the new governor. Zhu agrees and assassinates him. She wakes imprisoned to find that Rui wants to renege on their deal. However, Zhu has a backup plan. Xu Da attacks the city, and Rui is forced to concede to their agreement. Zhu is promoted to commander. Political in-fighting results in disagreement regarding the next target—Jiankang or Bianliang.

Power-hungry Chen suggests both. Little Guo, believing himself victorious (taking Jiankang is his idea), publicly crows about his idea. Ma begs Zhu to protect Little Guo, whom Zhu dislikes. Zhu, sympathetic toward Ma, reluctantly promises to try. Jiankang is captured easily.

Upon returning to the Red Turban base, the soldiers find that Chen has manipulated the Prime Minister to believe Little Guo is a traitor. Despite Little Guo’s innocence, he is executed. Later, Zhu proposes marriage to Ma, who initially refuses, but accepts after Zhu reveals her true sex. Meanwhile, Chaghan and his sons (and Ouyang) attend the Great Khan’s Spring Hunt.

At the event, Esen is dismayed at the indifference of the Khan, Ouyang allies with Zhang Shide of the Zhang merchant clan, and Lord Wang is angered by a rival noble’s insults. Wang enacts his revenge by secretly killing the noble’s gift to the Khan; a dead gift is a treasonous offense.

Ouyang notes Wang’s deviousness and satisfaction with his revenge. Chaghan, however, is not amused, despite the political benefits; he verbally disowns Wang for his actions. During the hunt, Ouyang encounters Wang being attacked by wolves. Ouyang rescues him and kills a wolf to bring back to the main party.

Wang is humiliated further when he publicly discovers his disownment. Chaghan’s horse is spooked by the dead wolf and throws him, and he falls off a cliff. Wang tries to rescue him but fails; when Esen arrives—too late—he believes Wang murdered Chaghan.

  • The three return to the family estate.
  • Esen, now Prince of Henan, is unsuited and unprepared for the role.
  • He considers Wang a necessary evil to run the estate but wants nothing to do with his brother, blaming him for Chaghan’s death.
  • Ouyang is conflicted about the effects his plot has on Esen but remains committed.

Esen decides to mourn his father by defeating the Red Turbans. Ouyang, who is aware of the Red Turbans’ next target, must balance revealing information with maintaining the necessary secrecy for his coup. Back at the Red Turbans’ base, Zhu and Ma are married.

With a factional coup brewing, Ma urges Zhu to avoid involvement. Zhu uses her ghosts to secretly poison her wedding feast. (Ghosts are manifestations of people’s traumas, but only some characters can see and interact with them.) Her men fall ill and are forcibly quarantined. Ma also falls ill, and Zhu nurses her back to health.

Zhu’s plan is a success—illness prevents her from participating in the attempted coup, from which Chen emerges victorious. The coup’s leaders are executed. Chen then restyles himself as chancellor of state. The remaining Red Turban leaders discuss Bianliang’s capture.

  1. As a loyalty test, Chen decides to accompany one of his commanders in taking Bianliang; Zhu, meanwhile, must lead a decoy force and distract Ouyang.
  2. This plan forces Zhu to rely on Chen for survival.
  3. Zhu’s forces notice flammable gas leaking from abandoned coal mines.
  4. Once Ouyang arrives, Zhu uses this to her advantage.

Ouyang, irritated, has very little interest in the battle. To save her troops, Zhu challenges Ouyang to single combat and reveals the Red Turbans’ true target. Zhu learns that Ouyang has known their tactics all along and purposely played along because doing so benefits his goals.

However, Ouyang also exacts his revenge for his grudge against Zhu, stabbing her in the abdomen and cutting off her right hand—for Ouyang, mutilation and the accompanying humiliation are worse than death. Afterward, Ouyang returns to Esen’s estate and receives permission to seek military assistance from the Zhangs.

Ouyang then travels to Yangzhou, where he meets the Zhangs and succeeds in acquiring reinforcements. Upon Ouyang’s return to Henan, Lord Wang’s attitude toward him worsens. Wang is suspicious of Ouyang’s uncharacteristically successful diplomatic mission, declaring that he will accompany Ouyang and Esen on their next battle, much to their consternation.

Esen tires of the logistical delays caused by Wang’s retinue and punishes Wang by burning his books, irrevocably damaging their relationship. Esen also increasingly depends on Ouyang, making him vulnerable to Ouyang’s manipulations. Ouyang grows more conflicted. At the Red Turban base, Zhu convalesces and her relationship with Ma grows more intimate.

Though Zhu must adapt to the loss of her hand, she is unhindered by psychological damage from her wounds. Once she recovers, she takes control of the Red Turbans and observes Jiao Yu’s chauvinistic attitude toward her. Chen requests Zhu’s aid in betraying the Prime Minister so Chen can become king.

Ouyang’s forces arrive at Bianliang first. Zhu sneaks into his ger to request a temporary alliance—if Ouyang sends Chen’s note to the Prime Minister and allows the Prime Minister and the Prince of Radiance to go free, Zhu will retreat. Ouyang agrees, but once his reinforcements arrive, she is on her own.

Zhu accepts and realizes Ouyang wants vengeance. The next day, the armies prepare for battle. Noon comes and goes. The Prime Minister appears with the Prince of Radiance; Zhu’s forces rescue them and retreat. Ouyang’s army recaptures Bianliang; Chen escapes.

  • Once Zhu’s forces stop to rest, the Prime Minister praises her loyalty; she then kills him.
  • Esen is unimpressed by Bianliang’s faded splendor.
  • Only Wang seems to appreciate its significance.
  • As he tells Esen its history, Ouyang and his allies stage their coup.
  • Esen realizes it too late.
  • Esen finally understands Ouyang’s desire for revenge; Ouyang, meanwhile, realizes Wang’s involvement.

Wang convinces Ouyang to spare his life by severing blood ties to Esen. Wang is released and disappears, but Esen remains captive. Ouyang gives Esen a sword and demands single combat. Esen refuses, throwing away both weapon and armor. Ouyang kills him. Ouyang grieves openly and then leaves to lead his forces to the Yuan capital.

  1. Zhu, meanwhile, briefly returns to the Red Turbans’ base, giving the Prince of Radiance into Ma’s care.
  2. Zhu then moves to retake Jiankang and brings the prince with her, secretly killing him to eliminate competition.
  3. She also returns her borrowed identity to her brother’s hungry ghost.
  4. After Zhu captures Jiankang, she summons Ma and gives her an ultimatum: stay with Zhu and accept the subsequent sacrifices on the path to the throne, or leave.

Undecided, Ma exits. The novel ends during the ceremony where Zhu declares her intention to become emperor. She gives herself a new name, Zhu Yuanzhang. Ma decides to remain by Zhu’s side. Zhu rejoices as she finally claims her fate. Featured Collections

What are the trigger warnings for the book She Who Became the Sun? Affiliate Link If you have even a passing interest in sapphic fantasy, you have almost certainly heard about She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. A reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty’s rise to power, it begins with a young boy who is destined for greatness and a young girl who is destined to be nothing.

  • When the boy instead follows the rest of the family into death, the girl takes on both his name and his fate, doing whatever she must to not only survive but to rise higher and higher until she finally reaches that fated greatness she so desires.
  • For so long, I put off reading this book because while I love nothing more than a beautiful sapphic fantasy, all I heard people say about this book (besides that it is brilliant) is it is brutal and it will wreck me.

Having now read it for myself, I can confirm all of those things: it is brutal, and it did wreck me, and it is legitimately one of the best books I have read all year (perhaps equal only to its follow-up, He Who Drowned the World ). I say this having read a lot of great books that I loved this year.

  1. I am absolutely obsessed with this duology.
  2. When I say it is brutal, though, I am actually not really referring to on-page violence.
  3. Part of the reason I think I put off reading it for so long is because the war setting made me assume there would be a lot of graphic battle scenes, which I personally have never cared for.

As it turns out, however, the battles are much more political than combat-based, even while many of the main characters are warriors. There is violence, to be sure, but it is not particularly drawn-out. Where Parker-Chan’s real interest lies is in the characters and their relationships, and that, too, is where I found the most brutal thing about this book.

  1. I don’t want to say too much because I think spoiling anything in this book is practically a crime, but when I say that I don’t think I have read a more terrible and beautiful and painful and complex relationship than some of the ones in this book, please understand that I have read Tamsyn Muir.
  2. The agony I experienced reading this book was somehow even more intense than what The Locked Tomb did to me.

One particular scene between Ouyang and Esen made me actually scream, and if you’ve read this book, it’s probably not even the one you’re thinking of. For all the agony this book caused me, however, it was also so much funnier than I expected. Zhu, our protagonist, was particularly funny, but it wasn’t just her.

  • I alternated between laughing and almost crying so many times while reading this, and neither emotion ever felt like it was encroaching on the other.
  • The mood of every scene was masterfully written, so nothing felt out of place.
  • I have to talk about Zhu some more, though, because while I loved (and also hated, sometimes at the same time) so many characters in this book, Zhu in particular stood out.

I don’t think I’ve read another character like her. As I said before, she was surprisingly funny, but she was also the most determined, ambitious, ferocious force of nature. Her character arc is as complex as anything else in this book—think “I support queer rights, but I also support queer wrongs,” as, like pretty much all of the characters in this book (except Ma, who is lovely and deserves the world), her choices are never unbelievable from a character perspective, but they are not always what one would call “morally defensible.” (Who, after all, strives for greatness while remaining good?) Despite that, she remains compelling, and somehow I never stopped rooting for her.

I can see why this book isn’t for everyone–it is rather dense and truly horrifying at times, and the sequel, which comes out next week, is even worse. However, this is a book that knows exactly what it is, and it does it so well. It is a brilliantly crafted epic about power, greatness, and gender, and it took my breath away.

I would say, if the premise sounds interesting and the trigger warnings sound manageable, make sure you’re in the right headspace and give this series a shot. Let it wreck you—I promise it will be worth it. Trigger warnings: War, violence, death, child death, misogyny, sexual content, animal death, torture, internalized homophobia, mutilation.

Asked By: Miles Rogers Date: created: Oct 13 2023

What does She Who Became the Sun symbolize

Answered By: Cody Adams Date: created: Oct 16 2023

The title explained – The title, “she who became the sun”, is a statement on how the orphan peasant girl, Zhu, turns into something that she believes is her destiny. She so strongly believes that she will become the most powerful leader in China, symbolized by the sun, that she represses any other ideas or mental arguments she might have, and in the end, she becomes the thing she wants to be.

Who is Noelle in the book then she was gone?

Overview – Lisa Jewell’s mystery novel, Then She Was Gone, follows Laurel Mack in her search for answers regarding her daughter Ellie’s disappearance. Through a series of flashbacks and differing points of view, Jewell gradually unfolds the details of the past and looks inside the mind of the psychopath who kidnapped Ellie, all while chronicling the steps Laurel must take to heal from the sorrow that has consumed her.

This novel was originally published in 2017, but this guide refers to the Atria paperback reprint edition from 2018. When Laurel Mack’s daughter, Ellie, disappeared 10 years ago, Laurel’s life fell apart. Her marriage to her husband, Paul, ended; she doesn’t have a close relationship with either of her two remaining children, Jake and Hanna; and she struggles to find purpose in her life.

When the police find Ellie’s partial remains, and Laurel says goodbye at the funeral, she thinks she will find closure, but instead, she finds a mystery. Laurel meets Floyd Dunn, and for the first time since Ellie’s disappearance, feels a sense of happiness and hope.

However, when she meets Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter Poppy, Laurel is struck by the similarities between Poppy and Ellie. Throughout her relationship with Floyd, Laurel begins to heal the wounds of the past. She seeks forgiveness from her ex-husband, Paul, shares happy moments with her elderly mother, and finds herself taking an interest in daily routines such as cooking and getting dressed up.

She even begins to heal her relationship with her daughter Hanna, realizing that she has always seen her as a “consolation prize” to Ellie (301), rather than as a brilliant daughter in her own right. Along her journey of healing, Laurel also discovers strange coincidences.

  • For example, Noelle Donnelly, Poppy’s mother, disappeared when Poppy was four.
  • Laurel soon realizes that Noelle was Ellie’s tutor in the months before she vanished and wonders at the connection between their disappearances.
  • Furthermore, Floyd’s other daughter from a previous marriage, SJ, tells Laurel she saw Noelle naked at eight months pregnant, and she didn’t have a baby bump.

Laurel follows the clues to Noelle’s house, where she sees Noelle’s creepy basement “guest room” full of hamster cages and secured with three locks on the basement door. While investigating Noelle and her connection to Ellie, Laurel also begins to notice peculiarities about Floyd and Poppy.

  • Poppy’s self-assuredness, while impressive at first, strikes Laurel as strange and wrong, as if Floyd coached her on what to say and do.
  • She also catches Floyd lying about Noelle, and she alternates between suspicion of Floyd and love for him as she tries to solve the mystery.
  • Meanwhile, in flashbacks, Noelle chronicles her obsession with Floyd and the ups and downs of their relationship.

Convinced that having a baby will help her keep Floyd’s affection, Noelle feels desperate after repeated miscarriages. Then she meets Ellie, her bright and beautiful new tutee. She becomes obsessed with Ellie, thinking that being around Ellie will make her happier and will solve all the problems in her relationship with Floyd.

  1. Noelle lures Ellie into her house, drugs her, and keeps her captive in the basement.
  2. Noelle then impregnates Ellie using sperm from a donor, and Ellie gives birth to a little girl, Poppy.
  3. However, Noelle’s plan does not help her win Floyd back the way she had hoped.
  4. Floyd is enamored with Poppy, but he still breaks up with Noelle.

Ellie develops a post-partum infection, and Noelle, unwilling to take care of her, leaves her to die in the basement. When Poppy is a toddler, Floyd recognizes that Noelle is an unfit mother, and he plans to take Poppy away from her. Unable to cope with the idea of losing her last link to Floyd, Noelle blurts out the truth—that Poppy is not their child; she’s the daughter of a girl named Ellie.

Filled with horror and rage, Floyd attacks her and accidentally kills her. Flashing forward to the present, on Christmas day, Laurel goes to Floyd’s house, and he leaves while she watches his taped confession. He admits to killing Noelle and explains that he truly loved Laurel and wants to do what’s best for her and Poppy.

He entrusts Poppy to Laurel, her biological grandmother, and shortly after leaving, Floyd kills himself. Despite the trauma of learning the details of Ellie’s disappearance, Laurel finds new meaning for her life. She renews a close relationship with her family, particularly Hanna, and now gets to be a mother to Ellie’s daughter, Poppy. Related Titles By Lisa Jewell Featured Collections

What does the sun represent in books?

The Meaning of the Metaphor “You Are the Sun in My Sky” By Elise Wile The sun has been an important symbol for millenia. It has been worshipped as a god, incorporated in sacred symbols and continues to be perceived as an awesome element of nature without which life on Earth could not exist.

  • In modern times, the sun retains its symbolic properties in literature.
  • As a literary symbol, it can represent a hero, knowledge, divinity, life force, brightness and overall splendor, according to the Merced Union High School District website.
  • When someone uses the metaphor “You are the sun in my sky,” he means that the person he is speaking to or writing about is the light in his life.

Since the Earth revolves around the sun, this phrase can mean that a person’s life revolves around the person to whom he gave the compliment. This phrase seems almost worshipful, an attitude that is congruent with the history of sun symbolism. Taken to the extreme, this metaphor can mean “I can’t live without you.” : The Meaning of the Metaphor “You Are the Sun in My Sky”

Asked By: Jacob Martin Date: created: Dec 25 2023

Is Dark Academia LGBTQ

Answered By: Bryan Hayes Date: created: Dec 28 2023

Since it came out last fall, Lee Mandelo’s Summer Sons has been hailed as an adherent of the ” dark academia ” aesthetic. And with good reason: the novel is set in the land surrounding a prestigious southern university, overflowing with menacing history, occult knowledge, and the attractive trappings of prestige.

  • It follows Andrew, an outsider to the academy, as he investigates his best friend’s mysterious death, falling in with crowds both intellectual and rowdy, and struggling with literal and figurative ghosts in the process.
  • It’s also, as with so many iterations of dark academia, undeniably queer.
  • Horny, closeted, and haunted, Andrew is basically the king of dark academia protagonists (or the jester, depending on how you look at it).

But Summer Sons is also doing something unique with these generic elements, asking new questions and revealing fissures and cracks along their seams. The academy housing Andrew’s mystery isn’t an ivory tower covered in creeping ivy and fanboys of classic literature.

Instead it is something at once more specific to its setting and truer to academia as it actually exists: a plantation house on stolen land, milling with an uneven mix of well-meaning white, middle class voyeurs and marginalized people, navigating disconnection (and often newfound) privilege. And Andrew isn’t just queer: he wants, specifically, to have sex with men.

Like any good protagonist, Andrew straddles two worlds; in this case the storied halls of the academy and the fast cars, fist fights, and bonfires that make up a certain brand of poor (largely male) young adulthood in the south. In true form, the borders of these worlds are porous, more trap-laden thoroughfares than distinct spheres.

And vitally, queerness exists in both spaces; it may take different forms, but it is undeniably present. Regardless of which world he’s exploring in any given scene, Andrew is in danger; regardless of where he seeks answers, he finds only his desires reflected back at him—in the adrenaline rush of near death and screeching tires, in the bruising force of Sam’s mouth, and in the pages of old books and transcripts, still warm from the fingers of their last reader.

In the dark academia of Summer Sons, academia and masculinity are alike in being poisonous and desirable, mechanisms of self-understanding and self-destruction, and they’re neither of them resolvable into the easy answers Andrew seeks. Where dark academia often romanticizes libraries and repressed queer desire (and to be clear: same), Summer Sons shines a black light on both, consummates them, and makes them simultaneously sexier and more sinister in the process.

Asked By: Jordan Henderson Date: created: Apr 21 2023

What gender is 13 mha

Answered By: Norman Torres Date: created: Apr 24 2023

‘It’s hard to tell due to the size of the costume, but Thirteen is, in fact, a woman.’

Does Bakugo have pride?

Katsuki Bakugo could’ve easily been the stereotypical, one-off bully. In the first episode of My Hero Academia, he’s not only established as loud, mean, and self-absorbed, but he also tells Deku to “take a swan dive off the roof of the building.” Regardless, by having him attend the same hero school as Deku and witness his transformation firsthand, it was evident Kohei Horikoshi had other plans for Bakugo.

How old is Sun age?

Scientists estimate that our Sun is about 4.57 billion years old.

Asked By: Simon Rodriguez Date: created: Aug 05 2023

How much age does sun have

Answered By: Lucas Williams Date: created: Aug 05 2023

Our Sun is 4,500,000,000 years old. That’s a lot of zeroes. That’s four and a half billion.

Who is the sun and her flowers by?

References –

^ Rupi Kaur: The Sun and Her Flowers | What the title means, retrieved 2019-12-02 ^ Rupi Kaur: The Sun and Her Flowers | What the title means, retrieved 2019-12-02 ^ Miller, E. Ce. “Rupi Kaur Is Back With Another Dreamy, Empowering Collection of Poems And Drawings”, Bustle, Retrieved 2018-02-16, ^ Acosta, Avelina. “Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers brings both heartache and happiness”, UNF Spinnaker, Retrieved 2018-02-16, ^ “Monday, September 18, 2017: Maximum Shelf: the sun and her flowers”,, Retrieved 2018-02-16, ^ “Your Favorite Instagram Poet Rupi Kaur Has a New BOOK Out”, Teen Vogue, Retrieved 2019-12-02, ^ “Rupi Kaur Inks Two-Book Deal”,, Retrieved 2018-02-16, ^ “How Rupi Kaur pushed through writer’s block to create her second collection of poems”, CBC Radio, Retrieved 2017-10-30, ^ Ceron, Ella. “Rupi Kaur Talks “The Sun and Her Flowers” and How She Handles Social Media’s Response to Her Work”, Teen Vogue, Retrieved October 4, 2017, ^ Walker, Rob (2017-05-27). “The young ‘Instapoet’ Rupi Kaur: from social media star to bestselling writer”, The Observer, ISSN 0029-7712, Retrieved 2017-10-31, ^ Choe, Jaywon; Flock, Elizabeth (2018-01-02). “How poet Rupi Kaur became a hero to millions of young women”, PBS, Retrieved 2021-07-03, } : CS1 maint: url-status ( link ) ^ “The Sun and Her Flowers”,, Retrieved 2017-10-31, ^ Mzezewa, Tariro (2017-10-05). “Rupi Kaur Is Kicking Down the Doors of Publishing”, The New York Times, ISSN 0362-4331, Retrieved 2017-10-31, ^ “The New York Times Best Sellers”, The New York Times, ISSN 0362-4331, Retrieved 2017-10-30, ^ “Paperback Trade Fiction – The New York Times Best Seller list”, The New York Times,5 Jan 2020. ^ Khaira-Hanks, Priya (2017-10-04). “Rupi Kaur: the inevitable backlash against Instagram’s favourite poet”, The Guardian, ISSN 0261-3077, Retrieved 2017-10-31, ^ Noel-Tod, Jeremy. “Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur”, The Sunday Times, Retrieved October 15, 2017,