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Publisher's Summary

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 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.

A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books

©2021 Shelley Parker-Chan (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Natalie Naudus delivers this epic of fate, ambition, and identity set in thirteenth-century Mongol-ruled China." (AudioFile review) 

“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, starred review) 

“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, starred review) 

What listeners say about She Who Became the Sun

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  • Overall
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Gorgeous

This book is so stunning and well written, the story is compelling and exciting, even in its slower parts. This is one I will be listening to again

5 people found this helpful

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Almost great.

There were aspects of this book that I loved. And it was truly gorgeously written, and performed very well by the narrator. I just really had a hard time with the male characters/relationships in this book. Much more of the novel focused on characters other than our heroine than I expected, and I just didn’t much care for those characters and I never really invested in their fates. Perhaps for personal reasons, I just couldn’t empathize with their world. Meh. I wish the focus had been a bit different, and that the tale had unfolded another way. I struggled to get through the last four hours. But I did, and I do think it is worth a read. It’s still a noteworthy book even tho it wasn’t my particular cup of tea in the end. You may enjoy it more than I.

2 people found this helpful

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Page turner if there were audio pages

Fascinating story of the rise to power for a determined peasant girl. Her brains and fortitude propel her upward to not only survival but status during 14th century China, a time when women were nothing. She does so as a man who will take a stand with the Chinese as they fight to throw off the yolk of their Mongol rulers.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Written in a powerfully evocative way - imaginative and captivating. An ambitious, relentless heroine Terrific narration-

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn’t get passed the poor reading

I listened to about 1/3 of this book. The audible reader wasn’t to my liking. The book is based on Asian characters and the reader did not do them justice. Also, the story was pretty tough to follow due to the interchanging of names and nick names. Since the names are Foreign it’s hard to tell which characters she was talking about. I generally did not like the story though, it was very boring and the dialog poor. I couldn’t finish it.

1 person found this helpful

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great story, great narrator

I loved this.

the mult-dimensional characters that I couldn't decide if I liked it disliked,it was like whiplash. Though, Mau, Shin-da, they were both solidly good characters. Anyway, the others all kind of stood in the gray area, which I enjoyed.

The setting and time period were wonderful. I would love to see more novels take place in this world, but that's just wishful thinking, ha.

The narrator did a fantastic job, definitely recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Truly Remarkable

This book is really just absurdly good. There are plenty of outstanding things about it, but the most remarkable is how compelling every single character is—all complex, likable and unlikable by turns, at the end of the day just undeniably human and eminently understandable.

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Did not like the moral arc

First of all- the narrator was exceptional 👌

My problem with this story is in its themes. It glorifies the military, glorifies violence and murder and self-interest. While the protagonist struggles between kindness and self-interested ambition, I feel the story landed too far in the self-interest ambition.

While I liked the rich world-building, the queer and gender-queer themes, they didn't compensate for the moral arc of the story.

I would not recommend the book :/

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Fantastic - a story that weaves complex character development skillfully

Parker-Chan deftly weaves a story centered around the idea of what desire costs us. The characters are dynamic and complicated, and evolve as the story progresses. We observe, via many characters, what desire costs and how we pay shapes us. Also, a beautiful and complicated love story.

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wow!

this is my new favorite book. the story and the writing are incredible! I finished it in 2 days because I couldn't stop listening