She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – The Journey of A Character Who Isn’t Afraid to Take It All

Wow. I don’t think I’ve been as immersed in or as satisfied by a fantasy book as I was by She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. It’s so easy to get into Zhu’s head and to understand what Zhu is thinking – in fact, while I usually tend to focus on how fast the plot is, this time, the part of the book that made me feel engaged was Zhu. NOTE: There will be spoiler-y quotes after the review, so if you don’t want to accidentally see any spoilers JUST read the review. I will mark the quotes section in bold. Also, quotes ARE TAKEN FROM THE ARC – I will edit this when I read a finished copy. The fact that I received a copy from the publisher and Netgalley did not influence my review.

Zhu, who is genderqueer, takes the place of Zhu’s dead brother. Zhu takes no prisoners, and really sets out to conquer the destiny that was originally meant for Chongba. I love seeing main characters who aren’t afraid to take what they desire/their destiny, and Parker-Chan really made me feel like I was able to see all of Zhu’s actions.

Obviously, the world building is fantastic – I love the fantasy elements as well as the fact that most of the violence takes place off page. I felt like SWBTS focused more on the political intrigue, which I always enjoy. Additionally, Zhu’s development from child to adult felt very well paced – I never felt like I was being rushed in the story to get to the next moment.

I do have to admit that I think some of the plot went over my head just because it’s summer, so my mind is pretty much devoted to my summer program right now, so I will definitely have to re-read SWBTS and will edit this review again at some point. Just know that as someone who’s just starting to get into adult fantasy (I think I’ve only read three: The Stars are Legion, The Poppy War trilogy, and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro), this book continues my streak of books that I could read over and over again. Overall, She Who Became the Sun is a beautiful and powerful story that I fell in love with, and I hope you all read it!

SPOILERS: Favorite quotes section

You may have ended this, but you haven’t ended me, she thought fiercely at him, and felt the truth of it shining inside her so brightly that it seemed capable of igniting anything it touched. 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.

The eunuch showed no sign of having felt any of her thoughts. He turned his back on the monks and passed through the doors, the ceaseless flow of his incoming soldiers parting around him like a stream around a rock.

He said to them, “Burn it to the ground.”

““I suppose you’ll have little enough chance, whatever I do,” Chen mused. “But I find myself moved to improve your odds. I’ve instructed Commander Wu to give you five hundred men before your departure. How many will you have then, seven hundred or so?” His laugh was like a slab of meat hitting the butcher’s block. “Seven hundred men against a city! I wouldn’t try it myself. But let me do what I can for you afterward: if you do manage to win Lu, I’ll convince the Prime Minister to let you keep whatever you’ve taken from it. Then you’ll have enough funds for your new temple.” His black eyes glittered. “Or for whatever else you’d like to do.””

“All that means is we have to make this life count.” He stared at her. She saw the moment the relief kindled in him, of having found her again to follow. The shadows on his face were already breaking apart. Through the cracks she saw the boy in him again. He said, wonderingly, “Who did you become, when we were apart?” She smiled. “The person I was always supposed to be.”

“Zhu felt a stab of uncharacteristic pity. Not-wanting is a desire too; it yields suffering just as much as wanting.”

“After a long pause Ma said, low, “I cherish you.” Zhu smiled at her. “I don’t even know who I am. General Ouyang killed Zhu Chongba, but I’m not the person I was born as, either. How can you know who you’re cherishing?” Rain drummed on the thatched roof. The mushroom smell of wet straw pressed around them with the intimacy of another’s warm body under the blankets. “I might not know your name,” Ma said, taking Zhu’s hand. “But I know who you are.”

“You never realized that it wasn’t your name they were going to call, exhorting you to reign for ten thousand years.” As the Prime Minister fell facedown in the dirt, she said, “It was mine.”

“She didn’t just want greatness. She wanted the world. The breath she took felt like joy. Smiling with the thrill of it, she said, “I’m going to be the Emperor.”

“Behold me as Zhu Yuanzhang , the Radiant King.”

Have you read She Who Became the Sun?

REVIEW: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

THE SILVERED SERPENTS by the INCREDIBLE ROSHANI CHOKSHI.

DISCLAIMER: I received an e-ARC from Netgalley. This did not influence my opinion of the book in any way.

DISCLAIMER #2: I also received a free copy from Wednesday Books as well as a finished softcover of The Gilded Wolves. This did not influence my opinion of the book in any way.

SPOILERS: will CLEARLY BE MARKED AT THE END!!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU TO ROSHANI CHOKSHI because she literally made my 2020. I am not joking. This sequel blew me away and I will be waiting for Book 3. First of all, the plot is so tightly written that there are no plot holes, which is great! There is a lot more action compared to TGW, which I really enjoyed. I LOVE SEEING THAT IN A SEQUEL!!! The world is already set up, and I’ve read TGW multiple times, so I remember what happened.

I was slightly worried that the romance between the main cast would take over the book, however, this is not the case in the slightest. The romantic moments are sweet, heartbreaking, and at times, wow. Roshani, just let them be together. *sobs over blank and blank* Roshani excels at writing slow burn romances and ones that I actually care about.

As for the characters? I will say that a certain someone got on my nerves. I am still reeling from redacted’s actions and have not recovered. Enrique, my favorite, is still my favorite and he’s a historian awkward nerd bookworm like me, so I would love him even if his characterization was different. Zofia surprised me because she got a lot more page time in this one, and I love her because she’s so much more relevant than redacted. And LAILA!!!! Wow. I love her as well. Also Hypnos.

The villains? Honestly, I read this ARC in July in less than two hours, so I don’t really remember. I do remember that I felt very surprised where Roshani took the story, in a good way! I forgot the history of the Order, so I will definitely be looking for that during my re-read.

The worldbuilding just gets better. There is a lot more in Serpents than Wolves, which I again loved so much. I want to see more forging in Book 3. However, I read this two months ago, and I paid more attention to the plot and characters, so I don’t have many thoughts right now on this part of the book.

Overall, this is my favorite sequel of 2020 and will likely be in my top 5 if not top 10 books of 2020. Roshani solidifies herself as an age category bending author because this book gets pretty dark towards the end. I would love to see Roshani write an adult fantasy or adult romance in the future because she is definitely capable of it (I’d go as far to say that this series grows with the readers: I was a freshman when I first read TGW and I am now a junior, and I can say that reading this almost two years ago would have been pretty intense in terms of the action). Also, the setting is freaking gorgeous. This is a perfect book in terms of craft and how it made me feel and actually, everything about it is perfect. Highly recommend.

SPOILER SECTION: turn back now if you have NOT READ SERPENTS!!!!!!! TURN BACK!!!! YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET SPOILED!!!!!!!!

Seriously, go away and read it if you haven’t then you can read this section.

If you’re still here, get ready to be spoiled!

I am so mad at Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. WHAT THE —-!!! I swear that that ending and cliffhanger is the BEST. It’s better than the one in Mark of Athena, which I didn’t have to wait for HOH to release because the whole series had already released. BUT THIS? 2021?!!!!! Roshani, please take your time because I would wait five years for the last book. I need time to feel the things Serpents made me feel.

THE ROMANCE? Laila oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!! Why do I suddenly ship her and Enrique or her and Zofia? COme on, does anyone see it? Just me? Also Enrique!!!! He needs to live. Hypnos? needs friends!!!!!! needs a good romance with someone who will also be there for him.

Yeah. I will never be over the perfection that is The Silvered Serpents. Roshani Chokshi, you are the best author and I am just so amazed that this book can impact me months later even though I forgot most of the plot.

WHAT DID YOU THINK?