She is now a refugee in the Celestial Kingdom and nobody can find out who she is. Xingyin befriends the crown prince by coincidence and ends up in the palace, to learn new skills and magic.
She hopes to one day win the favor of the emperor, so he must grand her wish and release her mother from her prison.
When she finally discloses who she is, the emperor and the empress are not happy, especially since their son Liwei has more than friendly feelings for Xingyin. The emperor sets Xingyin an impossible task, where she has to choose between freeing her mother and betrayal.
Sue Lynn Tan has written a lovely mythical fantasy with Chinese fairytale elements. I have no knowledge of Chinese mythology, so I do not know how accurate she has used this stories. The only think I know is that I utterly enjoyed this book. I loved Xingyin and how she handles herself during difficult times and I loved how she solves the final task. And I loved the dragons (dragons are cute).
Is it a perfect book? Perhaps not, Xingyin does not have a lot of growth, she is mostly the same at the beginning of the book as in the end. Liwei is a bit of an idiot, but I feel he gets better in the end. I quite liked the world building and how all kinds of Chinese elements are incorporated in the story.
I also have the second part of this duology here Heart of the Sun warrior, and I hope I will enjoy that just as much as this one.
Published in 2022