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...Read More
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.
Shelley Parker-Chan is an Australian by way of Malaysia and New Zealand. A 2017 Tiptree 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 Southeast 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.
"Parker-Chan's fascinating debut, the first in the Radiant Emperor duology, gives the historical Red Turban Rebellion a grimdark fantasy twist... 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." - Publisher's Weekly
"A bold, breathtaking historical fantasy debut seething with intrigue and action.... Vibrant and passionately inventive, She Who Became the Sun gives the aphorism 'live life like your head is on fire' dazzling new meaning." - Shelf Awareness
"The characters are bold and complex in this story of fealty, family, and self. Epic worldbuilding, high action, and ruthless shades of love and desire make the tale at turns tragic and inspiring... Parker-Chan's debut is forceful, immersive, and unforgettable. This inspired queer retelling of Chinese history is an exciting read." - Library Journal
"Parker-Chan's gorgeous writing accompanies a vibrantly rendered world full of imperfect, fascinating characters. With every turn of the page, the book offers a new set piece, a new revelation, a new horror.... If you're a fan of epic fantasy, you can't miss this one." - BookPage
"Parker-Chan's novel is an epic tale of the power of desire, the role of free will in deciding a person's fate, and the twisting machinations of power. Zhu is a powerful queer anti-hero, her means sometimes questionable, her desire overflowing.... The plots and betrayals that swirl around the book's events are themselves intensely compelling, but it is Zhu's strength of will and passion that give this novel its spark." - Booklist
"In the book's opening chapters, Parker-Chan masterfully balances poetry and tension, keeping the reader flying through the pages as they watch Zhu gain a foothold in life... this is an important debut that expands our concept of who gets to be a hero and a villain, and introduces a pair of gender disruptors who are destined to change China - and the LGBTQ fantasy canon - forever." - USA Today