I was recommended this book months and months ago by a few people that read it, so when I had a chance I snagged a copy for review. What a good idea it was! ^_^
Thanks to the author, as well as Tor via NetGalley for the review copy!
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
This is the story of Zhu Chongba. Zhu starts this story as a young woman in a peasant village, during a drought. Her father and brother are dying of starvation, as she is, but her brother is given a fortune that says that he is fated for great things, while the fortune teller says that she has no fate. When her brother dies, she takes his place (and his fate) and leaves her starving village to join a monastery.
Fast forward into adulthood, Zhu’s monastery is destroyed by a Mongol army, Zhu joins the rebel army and starts commanding troops and becoming a leader in the army.
I really enjoyed this book. It was fantastically written, and the world was well built. Many times, I felt like I was part of the world. I really liked Zhu as a character, and I found that it was very easy for me to cheer for her to win the day, and the war, and the… well everything else I guess. The themes of gender and gender roles are done very well in this novel, and I had a very hard time putting it down to do things like sleep.
This historical fantasy was immersive and while the fantasy elements were often not in-your-face, I still found it fantastical in many ways, and can’t wait to see what happens in the next volume! 4.5/5 stars!~