cover image She Who Became the Sun

She Who Became the Sun

Shelley Parker-Chan. Tor, $27.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-62180-1

Parker-Chan’s fascinating debut, the first in the Radiant Emperor duology, gives the historical Red Turban Rebellion a grimdark fantasy twist. After bandits kill Zhu Chongba’s father in 14th-century China, Zhu dies of grief without ever having fulfilled the destined greatness that was foreseen at his birth. Instead, his purposefully never-named sister takes on her brother’s identity—and his fate. The new Zhu’s tenacious will to survive and desire for glory leads her to become first a Buddhist monk, then a commander in the rebel army attempting to overthrow Mongol rule of China—and results in continual clashes with an antagonist to whom her fate is inexorably intertwined: the eunuch General Ouyang. For his part, Ouyang is not about to let a no-name monk distract him from a revenge plot a lifetime in the making, leading to a Machiavellian series of bargains and battles between the two. Though Parker-Chan’s unrelentingly grim view of humanity bogs down the middle of the novel, her nuanced exploration of gender identity and striking meditation on bodily autonomy set this fantasy apart. Fans of Asian-influenced fantasy have just been given their newest obsession. [em]Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. (July) [/em]