Rebecca's Reviews > Daughter of Xanadu

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang
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Jul 01, 12

bookshelves: adventure, historical, drama, romance, young-adult
Read in July, 2012

In the medieval-era Mongolian Empire, Emmajin is a granddaughter (one of scores) of the emperor Kubla Khan. She longs for an army life, uninterested in marriage or behaving like a proper woman. When a young Marco Polo from Venezia arrives in the kingdom, the emperor gives Emmajin the task of spying on him, and learning all she can about Christendom, to aid the Khan in conquering it. Emmajin completes her task, but in the process, becomes attracted to the red-haired stranger. Later, she is granted her request to join the army--which is not as easy for her as she'd thought--and embarks on a journey with the army to conquer a new part of Southeast Asia--and Marco is going along on a quest from the Khan himself.

I'll admit right off, I didn't finish this book, so probably my impressions are skewed. I gave up about a hundred pages from the end because while there was nothing wrong with the story--it had an unusual and fascinating setting--I couldn't take the tell-don't-show writing style any longer. Emmajin carefully reports every thought that runs through her head, and clearly explains every sitution, not giving readers a chance to intuit for themselves, which is really the heart of good writing. The reader must fill in the gaps him or herself to bring the story to life. I also didn't quite buy Emmajin at times--her conversion to a more politically correct way of thinking about many things feels hollow and contrived. For example, in one sentence, she reports that she used to despise merchants, but seeing Marco work has changed her mind. Aagh! Show it! Trust your readers. So, not a winner for me.

And the character's name, Emmajin Beki? I couldn't read it as anything other than as Emma-Jean Becky, hardly a fearsome Mongolian name.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Melodia I liked it and finished it, but agree with your thoughts. I also found that she got stuff too easily.


Rebecca Thanks!


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