"The Wild Orchid" is a retelling of the legend of Mulan. Mulan narrates the tale, giving us backstory about how her father and mother met and married"The Wild Orchid" is a retelling of the legend of Mulan. Mulan narrates the tale, giving us backstory about how her father and mother met and married for love; her mother dying while giving birth to her; her father's military career and how she's never seen him; and what drives her to act more like a boy than a young lady. This all leads up to her father finally returning home, injured, and in disgrace for speaking up to the Emperor about the Hun army and what China should do. Mulan and her father struggle to know each other at first, but they eventually come around. One day the order comes that China is to fight the Hun army again, and Mulan takes off as a boy to fight for China. There she meets Prince Jian, who she instantly feels a connection for. Jian wants to protect a small pass where the Huns can easily sneak through, but his brothers think the idea silly and unimportant. Mulan agrees with Jian, and together they persuade Jian's brothers to protect the pass. The fight happens, Mulan is injured and it's revealed she's actually a girl. While meeting with the Emperor, the Emperor grants Mulan a wish, but she bestows her wish to Jian. Right at the end, Jian finally announces his feelings for Mulan, and she for him, and the story has a happy ending.
Like all the other books in the "Once Upon a Time" series, this was short, to the point, and easy to read. I loved the entire first half of the book and Mulan's friendship with Li Po. That was all so well done and beautifully written. Lots of great development once her father returns home.
If you like Mulan, it's most likely because you've seen the Disney adaptation. This book has some similarities, but it's really it's own thing. If you are looking for a lot of action (like the cartoon), you'll be sadly disappointed. The book is more focused on Mulan's home life prior before she heads off to war. She only joins the army probably a little over the half-way point, and even then she doesn't do much until her first battle at the unprotected pass.
For the story to have a happy ending between Mulan and Jian, I still felt it all to be wildly insane. She doesn't even meet her "true love" until way into the half-way point and there's just this instantaneous connection between them. It all feels very sudden and almost kind of forced. There was so much build up and connection between Li Po and Mulan I felt. But that's the nature of these stories in this series with the love at first sight motif. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really liiked this 6th installment of the Pink Carnation series. I wouldn't say it's my ultimate fave, or even within my top three**spoiler alert** I really liiked this 6th installment of the Pink Carnation series. I wouldn't say it's my ultimate fave, or even within my top three faves of the series, but it was still a great read and had it's interesting moments. I loved the move of location from the ballrooms of London to the sweltering heat of India. It really just broadened the series and gave it a new scope. Really, the only thing I didn't like about the book was all the names just thrown at you every which way you turned. I had trouble keeping up with who was who---who was a good guy, who was a bad guy...it got a little much at times and I found myself having to flip back to when a character was first introduced so I could remember who they were exactly. I did love the interactions between Alex Reid and the heroine of this book, Penelope, and Penelope's conflicts with her husband Freddy Staines who she was forced to marry in the previous book. Penelope and Alex were one steamy couple, haha! Something I have to praise Lauren Willig on in this book is that she actually killed off a somewhat major character in the series: Freddy. Well, I wasn't really shocked that Freddy died---I figured he'd either die or go to prison or something so that Penelope would have her happy ending with Alex. But it was the manner of Freddy's demise and Penelope's reactions that I thought Willig did so amazingly. Even though Freddy comes across as a total jerk and he's absolutely horrible to Penelope, you still kind of feel pity for the man once he's gone because by then, Penelope feels guilty because she is the one, after all, who forced him into the marriage, and she in turn feels that if she had remained silent, Freddy would still be alive doing exactly what he's always done and not be dead. So I praise Willig for killing off a somewhat major character (who isn't the story's main villain). So overall, I enjoyed the book and if you love the Pink Carnation series, you gotta keep reading this one. ...more