She Who Became the Sun


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5 stars (2 reviews)

6 editions

She Who Became the Sun

5 stars

She Who Became the Sun is a historical fantasy duology, retelling the rise of the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. This is a reread for me before I get to the sequel for a belated #SFFBookClub sequel month.

My favorite part of this first book is the ways that the major characters all uniquely grapple with their own gendered otherness:

Ouyang is an enslaved warrior eunuch working for the Mongol prince of Henan's son, Esen. Ouyang is the most masculine of characters, but copes with his otherness through anger and shame. He so strongly denies the femininity that other people project onto him that he extrudes that rejection into misogyny. His relationship with men is similarly uneasy and hits a classic trans refrain: "he had no idea if it was a yearning for or a yearning to be, and the equal impossibility of each of those hurt …

Epic in every sense

5 stars

I love this book for being an alternate history that's not fixated on Hitler. I love it for how carefully it weaves its fantasy into the real history it's anchored in - enough so that as soon as I finished reading it I had to read up on the actual Red Turban rebellion and see how many of the characters were close adaptations. I love it for how much desperate, furious, and yes sometimes joyous life its main characters have. I love it for how viscerally it evokes some incredibly hard times (though be warned, it's a heavy read because of that). I love it for how utterly unsympathetic all the "big people" are.

Around the middle of the book the weight of Fate on both the plot and multiple characters' obsessions started to feel stifling, but the more the narrator complicated that idea the more this stopped being a …