Book Review: She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor #1) by Chelly Parker-Chan (three stars)

Book Review: She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor #1) by Chelly Parker-Chan (three stars)

In that one terrible moment, she knew what her fate of nothing meant. She had thought it was only insignificance, that she would never be anything or do anything that mattered. But it wasn’t.
It was death.

If Leo Tolstoy had written Mulan instead of War and Peace. Right down to the confusing naming conventions. Deeply insightful light historical fantasy into the nature of desire and destiny.

The monastery was never to have been forever; she was always going to be expelled into that world of chaos and violence—of greatness and nothingness.

Even the bad guys are three-dimensional and engaging. Come to think of it, there aren’t any good guys. None the really interesting characters are men. Telling more might spoil things, but Chinese history is a strong clue.

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

Why only three stars? Pornography. The first two-thirds of the story treats sex indirectly and subtly, then Parker-Chan dumps the reader into a graphic, gratuitous sex scene. Doesn’t just violate the flow of the story, cheapens everything before and after. Totally unnecessary. They had great sex; it changed their lives. Okay, but close the bedroom door.

“Even the most shining future, if desired, will have suffering as its heart.”

Won’t be back for more. Sad. So much potential.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor #1) by Chelly Parker-Chan (three stars)

  1. I still remember the first time I came across a sex scene where unexpected – in the middle of a Nora Roberts (IIRC) book I was barely tolerating as it was. That was it for me – no more of her books. Those scenes must satisfy some of her readers – she adds them to all, and you have to expect them, I understand, one per book, like we all learned to watch out for the one really violent and gory scene in every Dick Francis novel.

    However well done, they’re gratuitous, Roberts’ more than Francis’, but I think they’re too much. And they change the whole tone and categorization of the whole novel.
    Am I showing my age and general prudishness? Maybe. But I felt ambushed. ‘Indirectly and subtly’ works SO much better. And is more skillful by far on the author’s part, engaging the reader’s brain instead of slapping it awake with the proverbial 2 x 4.

  2. Agree. I also avoid writers, like Joe Abercrombie, who pour on the violence and gore.

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