DAUGHTER OF XANADU

A 13th-century princess wants to be a warrior; the old tale's less forced than usual when set in the Mongol Empire with its legends of fighting women. Emmajin is Khubilai Khan's (fictional) oldest granddaughter, and she would rather be a soldier than a wife. Emmajin struggles to convince the Khan, but her desire is complicated by a growing attraction to the hairy visiting foreigner, Marco Polo. Emmajin's stubborn drive brings both her and Marco to combat and the novel's highlight: a lusciously described brutal engagement of cavalry, archers and elephants. Unlike much of the rest of Emmajin's tale, the battle and its profound emotional aftermath don't suffer from dry overdescription. Otherwise, Emmajin writes as if alien in her own home: She serves "Mongolian cheese," notices her cousins' "distinctive Mongolian male haircut" and rides with a "traditional Mongolian wooden saddle." With such a narrator, it's unsurprising that she finds exotic Christendom compelling, but it is a disappointment. Gorgeous cover art packages this blandly informative adventure, which is spiced with just enough blood and sexual tension to keep readers turning the pages. (Historical fiction. 12-13)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73923-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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RISE OF FIRE

From the Reign of Shadows series , Vol. 2

A fantasy conclusion brings romance and intrigue.

Luna and Fowler are an unlikely pair: she's the heir to the murdered former king and queen of Relhok, and he's the usurper's son. Nonetheless, they've fallen in love in the Stygian darkness of the time of the eclipse. Even after they fight free of the repulsive dwellers in the quagmire of the tunnels beneath the marsh, freedom is out of their grasp. With Fowler dramatically dying from a poisoned wound, they are taken prisoner by Prince Chasan of Lagonia. Like Fowler, Chasan is entranced by Luna of the milky white skin and pale freckled cheeks; unlike Fowler, Chasan has no idea that Luna is completely blind. It's an unsurprising deficiency on his part, as Luna has nigh-magical senses (she's an excellent shot with a bow and arrow, confidently firing into a melee without ever hitting an ally). The turgid love triangle, in a setting of villainous rulers, human sacrifice, and grotesque torments, follows predictable patterns—except, perhaps, that it only takes two volumes to bring the star-crossed lovers together instead of the usual three. In a world full of darkness, blindness acts as an overwrought metaphor more than a real condition: Luna's internal monologue is not at all that of someone who's been blind since birth, while Fowler thinks of how "Luna look[ed] normal, fully sighted, but I knew Luna was anything but normal."

Skip it . (Fantasy. 12-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-237767-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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