Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan
The second book in the Daughter of the Moon Goddess duology. I have had this book for many weeks from the library and they kept allowing me to renew it. I wanted to start it many times. It took me two non consecutive Saturdays before I could finish it since it’s just shy of 500 pages and I wanted to give it time and full attention.
I mentioned in my review of the first book that it was a true Chinese drama with a complicated political love triangle and lots of angst. This sequel dialled that up and reminded me of my favourite Chinese drama ever “Bu Bu Jing Xin”. I even played the OST from the show while reading the last few chapters. BBJX is an adaptation of a novel by Tong Hua that has no English translation. The stories are not exactly similar in plot but like a lot of Chinese historical and fantasy romances, they involve an angsty romantic relationship and a woman navigating a political landscape. I do not know how I can express it in words how I felt about BBJX. I’ve rarely if ever seen romances that are so emotional and stirring especially in Western art. This book’s love triangle and central romance captured it completely. The protagonist Xingyin has a depth of feeling for someone who has betrayed her. It’s really difficult to describe because that sounds almost toxic but both the show and this book really go into the character development of the male lead. Their love is transformative on both sides which is why I love both works.
I do not often see these kind of love triangles or romances in the West. I often do not like love triangles as a result because it’s obvious who the female lead ends up with. In the case of this novel and BBJX, all the characters in the triangle compelling in their own way. Of course, there is one who stirs the heart strings of Xingyin and the reader most of all: Wenzhi. I applaud the author for really capturing the tortured and complicated male lead similar to Fourth Prince from BBJX.
Another thing is how complicated and usually bittersweet the endings are. They are rarely happily ever after and if they are content ones, they are tinged with all the tough experiences the characters had to endure by the end. I grew up and like these kind of stories because there is so much character and relationship development by the end.
My reading pathways are character and setting. The emotionality of the relationships and the Chinese myths really took me away in this series. I am so glad that this was only two books because I felt it would have dragged on otherwise. It was the right amount. I felt very satisfied by the end of it and I even sighed! I am considering buying these novels because I want to support the author. I’ve read there an anthology of stories coming out next year and another book in the same series planned but with different main leads.
As with most of my 4.75 or 5 star reviews, there is something very personal about how I feel about this book. It reminded me of one of my favourite TV shows and the stories I grew up with. I can not review it objectively in terms of plot or language, only my feelings. I love the romance in this and it’s one of the best romantic stories I have read in years.
5 stars. Read August 11 and August 26, 2023.