Destiny. Vengeance. Glory.
Anlei has spent much of her young life fighting the shadow spirits plaguing her village and imagining herself as the Warrioress of legend. When Viceroy Kang visits, he makes the villagers an offer: In exchange for the protection of his bronze dragon army, he will take one girl to be his latest wife—but he also wants their enchanted River Pearl. The bride he selects is Anlei. Though her thirst for vengeance and hunger for adventure and personal glory have not been sated, she resigns herself to this exchange for the sake of her people. Before the ceremony, however, the pearl is stolen by the Masked Giver, a young man on his own quest to save his people from the Courts of Hell and Mowang, the demon king. Of course, Anlei joins him. A Chinese-inspired fantasy, mixing magic and science, cyborgs and magical swords, this story tries to incorporate many topics (some more successfully than others), including a commentary on womanhood and sacrifice for the community, destiny vs. self-determination, Chinese legends, and politics. The main character, who is prone to histrionics and makes a distracting number of oaths to the Gods of Heaven and Earth for vengeance and violence, seems to have dyslexia. Though full of action sequences and dramatic reveals, unfortunately the journey of self-discovery is lacking.
Ultimately, this is more flash and over-the-top drama than substance. (Fantasy. 14-17)