**3.5-stars rounded up**
Initially, I was going to think on this for a bit before writing my review, but I am just going to do it. Bite the bullet, say what I have to say and no doubt, tick a couple of people off along the way.
She Who Became the Sun was one of my most anticipated releases of the Summer. I fully expected to give this one 5-stars. Unfortunately, that’s not the experience I had with it.
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 in order to enter a monastery as a young male novice.
More importantly, Zhu Chongba, her brother was fated for greatness and she plans to take that greatness for herself. She will make her fate a choice, instead of a chance.
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.
I felt like a ton was happening, while simulataneously nothing was happening. Trust, I understand this makes zero sense, but it’s how I felt.
With my slight disappointment out of the way, I will say that Parker-Chan’s writing deserves all of the 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 in 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. I clearly enjoyed it. Even though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I expected, it’s still a really good start to a series.
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!