Sunday, November 22, 2020

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword

“Brotherhood might be unique to men, but loyalty, devotion to friends, and a sense of fairness are not. They are the precise reasons I became a conscript in Dabao’s place. I could never have been at peace with myself knowing that it was within my power to do something for Auntie Xia and Dabao and not have done it.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I don’t usually go for retellings. But I thought I’d give this one a chance. After all, it’s a Mulan retelling that’s strictly historical fiction written by an American author who immigrated from China as a teenager. So yeah, I was definitely interested.

I know a lot of reviewers may be familiar with Sherry Thomas already, but this is the first I’ve read by her, and I must say I am pleased. I really enjoyed her writing style, with a smattering of historical details, a pinch of setting that isn’t too overwhelming, and the subtle bits of humor.


BookThe Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
My rating: 5/5 stars
Mini description: I could do this blindfolded

The story itself starts off at a slow burn pace. For a while, I found myself wondering, “Okay, where is this really heading?” But I enjoyed it all the same, and I wanted to make the book last, so I tried to spread it over a couple weeks. Until I accidentally devoured two hundred pages in one night.

The part I particularly liked about the pacing was the travel elements. I love a good travel story where the main characters are just sick of traveling by day two because they’re so stinking saddle sore (or sore from walking, but that was not the case here). I love traveling, so I feel that in my soul.

Another element I enjoyed was the culture. I did not know that China was such a melting pot back in the 5th century, and the book helped add more to my mental historical timeline. Throughout the book, Mulan references authors like Sun Tzu and Confucius, and I just appreciate how she knows military strategy and how to sword fight and catch arrows with her bare hands while blindfolded.

As for the characters, I just love how Mulan’s character develops over the book and how the princeling becomes more and more transparent. And the interactions within their small party is just gold.

In all, I gave The Magnolia Sword 5/5 stars for excellent plot, culture, and characters. I recommend this book to readers of who enjoy young adult historical fiction. Now I want to study more of the original story of Mulan to know how close this adaptation is.

Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these young adult books: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (historical fiction with travel), Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (historical fiction with a Chinese-American protagonist), and Code Name Verity (historical fiction with spies and pilots in France during WWII).

Let’s chat! Has The Magnolia Sword made it to your TBR list yet? Have you read it? What’s your favorite historical retelling?



Similar book reviews: The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Beneath Wandering Stars, and The Bird and the Blade

No comments:

Post a Comment