Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Daughter of Xanadu

Author: Dori Jones Yang
Pages: 352
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Challenge: The Ultimate Reviewer's Challenge Book 2
Synopsis: Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin's determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the "manly arts" of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting 'dragons' and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

Buy the Book (Amazon)

I enjoy historical fiction. I love stories of princesses and princes, murder, betrayal, court and war. This made me excited to read about Emmajin's life was a Mongol Princess.

I've never actually read or know much about Marco Polo or the Mongols. I was excited to read about this part of history though. The Mongols were very much warriors with harsh customs. They felt it was their God-given duty to unify the world under one rule. I was horrified of some of the things I read and that our main character, Emmajin supported but she lived a very different life from me so I can imagine she'd have a different view.

Emmajin was a confusing character. She changed significantly throughout the book. I'm glad of the change but I wish I could read more of the new Emmajin to understand her better. During most of the story, I disagreed with Emmajin. I don't believe in war, and I wanted to yell at her about all the glory she thought she'd get. While I was unhappy with the reason for her change, I really do hope she makes the most out of it.

There was of course romance in this book. I'm not sure how I felt about it. Marco was a nice enough guy but I don't understand how there was a huge romance between Emmajin and him. They hadn't known each other long, but their romance is an important plot device in the book. Maybe others would enjoy it better.

One of the best things about Daughter of Xanadu is the culture. We readers will get a good idea of Mongol's culture and lifestyle and how the life of a Latin, Marco Polo may differ from that. I laughed at some of the scenes where Emmajin asks about different colours of eyes and hair- it really makes me appreciate how diverse the world we live in today is.

Overall, a unique tale of a girl who encounters love, war, and destiny. A good read, 3.5 stars.

*** & 1/2 *

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