She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the review copy

This is the first book in The Radiant Emperor Duology

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy. 

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

“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.

It was great to read about a period that I have know prior knowledge of.

She Who Became the Sun is definitely a historical fiction book that has some fantasy aspects.

The way in which we are introduced to all the characters and see how each one impacts the story was beautifully told.

I loved the characters and the relationships they have. Zhou Chongba was such an strong character who did everything she could to live. Her story arc was incredible.

She Who Became the Sun starts off as a single POV but turns into a multi POV which didn’t bother me as I thought it would.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the duology and more from Shelley Parker-Cham.


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