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She Who Became the Sun av Shelley…
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She Who Became the Sun (utgåvan 2021)

av Shelley Parker-Chan (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3561656,925 (4.08)11
Medlem:madelinemar
Titel:She Who Became the Sun
Författare:Shelley Parker-Chan (Författare)
Info:Tor Books (2021), 416 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:to-read

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She Who Became the Sun av Shelley Parker-Chan

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» Se även 11 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 16 (nästa | visa alla)
It's been well over a decade since I read an epic historical fantasy. Back in 2003 I read Lian Hearne's best-selling medieval Japanese trilogy Tales of the Otori but became bored with it by Book 3. Shelley Parker-Chan's debut novel She Who Became the Sun, however, piqued my interest because it's set in an era I know nothing about, i.e. during the Yuan Dynasty in China, when China was under Mongol rule.

The author bio intrigued me even more:
Shelley Parker-Chan is an Australian by way of Malaysia and New Zealand. A 2017 Tiptree Otherwise Fellow, she is the author of the historical fantasy novel She Who Became the Sun. Parker-Chan spent nearly a decade working as a diplomat and international development adviser in South-East Asia, where she became addicted to epic East Asian historical TV dramas. After a failed search to find English-language book versions of these stories, she decided to write her own. Parker-Chan currently lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she is very grateful to never have to travel by leaky boat ever again.
Populated with real people and events from history, She Who Became the Sun begins in 1345, at a time when the Yuan government had failed to deal with a succession of natural disasters and there was a breakdown of control at the local level. The power vacuum was filled by warlords, cult leaders, bandits and peasant rebellions. The novel's hero, a 'worthless' girl is barely surviving a disastrous famine when she becomes the sole remnant of her family after a bandit raid. To survive she takes on the identity and destiny of her brother Zhu Chongha. She dresses as a boy and is accepted into a monastery as a monk, where she gets an education but is always at risk of her gender being discovered.

(Zhu Chongha was the real life founder of the Ming Dynasty, reimagined as a young queer peasant girl in the novel.)

Events in the monastery establish her as wily, determined, ambitious and ruthless in a way that Buddhist monks are not supposed to be. It is also there during her ordination ceremony that she first encounters her would-be nemesis the eunuch Ouyang, a brutal general in the Mongol army. In him she recognises a kind of twinship: neither one gender nor the other but somehow both. Ouyang is there to collect ruinous taxes and when the abbot refuses, he sacks the monastery. But they will meet again.

Part 2 introduces the key characters of the Yuan dynasty who were fighting to defeat the Red Turban rebels (who would in real life defeat the Mongols and found the Ming Dynasty). The power plays include jealousy, revenge, betrayal and sibling rivalry and they sow the seeds for the eventual defeat of this brutally powerful military force. This part also establishes the reasons why ordinary people supported the rebels: the Yuan ruled through a four-caste hierarchy with Mongols at the top and the southern Chinese people (nanren) at the bottom with no hope of any improvements in their lives.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/10/26/she-who-became-the-sun-by-shelley-parker-cha... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Oct 26, 2021 |
In feudal China, a young girl takes her brother’s place and fate, escaping starvation to become first a monk and then a general in the rebellion against the Mongol rulers. Her destiny entwines with that of the prized eunuch general of the Mongols. (Her pronouns never change internally, but that doesn’t stop her from thinking of herself as a man in order to fool Heaven that she’s entitled to her brother’s destiny.) The fantasy elements are that she and some others can see hungry ghosts, and that those with the Mandate of Heaven can manifest it as heatless flame. I didn’t connect with the story very much emotionally—there was a lot of killing over which people would hold power but they were all going to wield it in similar ways—but it was very interesting to read a story with different background assumptions about fate and with primarily Buddhist characters. ( )
1 rösta rivkat | Oct 14, 2021 |
A re-telling of the origins of China's Ming Dynasty with a brush of magic and a powerful character. I absolutely loved this. Parker-Chan is incredibly ambitious, and succeeds at every level from the historical period, multifacted characters, to the harsh realities of war in a pre-industrial country. They even make battle tactics in a fantasy novel interesting.

Radiant Emperor

Next: ? ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Sep 11, 2021 |
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and I'm glad I did, because it was a lovely book. Exactly what I Was looking for and hoping to find.

Absolutely gorgeous literary fantasy. The setting was perfectly evoked, and the language beautifully immersive. (Spoiler-free example: Parker-Chan won't tell you how much starvation hurts, she'll write you beautiful passages about how delicious crickets and lizards and mud are starting to look.)

The crucial winner for me is the characters. Two main pairs stand out - Ouyang and Esen on the "empire" side, and Zhu (the female MC who pretends to be a male monk for most of the book) and Ma (Zhu's wife, friend, and lover). All four characters are vivid, multi-faceted, nuanced, and flawed in different ways. Huge shifting intersections between privilege, hardship, trauma, love, and grief all tangle together, spilling out to the wider storyline and ultimately having knock-on effects across the whole nation. By the end, I loved all of the characters, even if I was no longer sure who was heroic and who wasn't. PErhaps nobody was and everybody was.

Zhu's character is intricate beyond my capacity to explain in a short review (without writing a long and involved essay, I mean) but if I had to pick JUST one aspect to focus on, it's her un-Buddhist sense of desire: she struggles with wanting things beyond the life given to her, and whether that is okay. Repeatedly, that issue comes up - she wants, she desires, should she desire, doesn't desire have a cost - but notably, it's not something the male characters seem to struggle with. Because ambition, power, and greatness are seen as natural things for men to want, a kind of ingrained privilege of what it's okay to expect or hope for in life. Zhu, as both a woman and someone born to the peasant class, has to fight for the right to even want those things, let alone have them.

Every character pays a cost, and by the end I think most readers will be weighing up whether anything they gained was worth the sacrifice. Zhu is capable of goodness and love, but I am not sure that she herself is a good person, by the novel's end. That grey tangled mess does make her exactly the kind of character I really enjoy, however. ( )
  Sunyidean | Sep 7, 2021 |
Absolutely gorgeous literary fantasy. The setting was perfectly evoked, and the language beautifully immersive. (Spoiler-free example: Parker-Chan won't tell you how much starvation hurts, she'll write you beautiful passages about how delicious crickets and lizards and mud are starting to look.)

The crucial winner for me is the characters. Two main pairs stand out - Ouyang and Esen on the "empire" side, and Zhu (the female MC who pretends to be a male monk for most of the book) and Ma (Zhu's wife, friend, and lover). All four characters are vivid, multi-faceted, nuanced, and flawed in different ways. Huge shifting intersections between privilege, hardship, trauma, love, and grief all tangle together, spilling out to the wider storyline and ultimately having knock-on effects across the whole nation. By the end, I loved all of the characters, even if I was no longer sure who was heroic and who wasn't. PErhaps nobody was and everybody was.

Zhu's character is intricate beyond my capacity to explain in a short review (without writing a long and involved essay, I mean) but if I had to pick JUST one aspect to focus on, it's her un-Buddhist sense of desire: she struggles with wanting things beyond the life given to her, and whether that is okay. Repeatedly, that issue comes up - she wants, she desires, should she desire, doesn't desire have a cost - but notably, it's not something the male characters seem to struggle with. Because ambition, power, and greatness are seen as natural things for men to want, a kind of ingrained privilege of what it's okay to expect or hope for in life. Zhu, as both a woman and someone born to the peasant class, has to fight for the right to even want those things, let alone have them.

Every character pays a cost, and by the end I think most readers will be weighing up whether anything they gained was worth the sacrifice. Zhu is capable of goodness and love, but I am not sure that she herself is a good person, by the novel's end. That grey tangled mess does make her exactly the kind of character I really enjoy, however. ( )
  Sunyidean | Sep 7, 2021 |
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