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The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of The Ballad of Mulan

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"Once upon a Time" Is Timeless

Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.

But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?

224 pages, Paperback

First published February 10, 2009

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About the author

Cameron Dokey

60 books912 followers
Cameron Dokey is an American author living in Seattle, Washington. She has a collection of over 50 old sci-fi and horror films. Cameron was born in the Central Valley of California. Cameron grew up reading classical literature and mythology, perhaps due to her father, Richard, being a teacher of Philosophy, Creative Writing, and Western Literature.

Cameron has one husband and three cats, and is the author of over a dozen young adult novels. Her favorite read is J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings." Her favorite TV show is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

When she's not writing, Cameron likes to work in the garden and is learning to quilt.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 539 reviews
Profile Image for Allison.
209 reviews30 followers
February 17, 2009
I was so psyched to read this installment of the Once Upon a Time Series that I went so far as to preorder it. Besides the fact that I was interested to see how the series would present a non-european tale, I was very excited because I'd never really heard the story of Mulan (disney film excluded, of course). I started off loving it, but by the end....let's just say I was a bit disappointed.

I have four main complaints:

1) Mulan never truly meets a foe she can't face. Although she does encounter obstacles, she seems able to pass by them with little more than luck and determination. As a result, it seems that things "come easy" to her, which subtracts greatly from her heroic deeds. Although it is clear she works hard for her skills, the author's desire to show Mulan as a determined strong woman overrides the realism of the story. We do not see Mulan frustrated because she can't hit a target, and we never hear about Mulan falling off a horse. In fact, if she could just keep quiet, it would seem this Mulan could do no wrong.

2) Because of the length of the book, important characters, such as Mulan's father, stepmother, her lover, or MOST importantly Prince Guang (who the author seemed to think was the main antagonist, despite the fact that he does NOTHING in the book) get almost no "screentime". Because of this, Mulan's "close" relationships with them seems forced, while relatively minor characters, (such as her childhood friend, Li Po) get a lot of mention, despite the fact that they play a minimal role in the story.

3) Part of the reason I read this series is because it presents me with a unique version of beloved fairy tales. My favorite books in the series are the ones that alter the "traditional" tale, either by changing the story itself (as is the case with Golden and The Crimson Thread), by placing the story in a non-traditional context (As Water Song did by taking the classic tale of The Frog Prince and setting the story in the middle of World War I), or by slightly altering an important aspect of or point of view in of the story. Perhaps this is just because I don't know the story well, but I felt that this version of Mulan had NONE of these qualities. Sure, there was a unique, independent, forward-thing heroine, but in every other way I assume this was a typical retelling of The Ballad of Mulan.

So it seems to me that the very fact that it is not a european story makes it "unique" enough to be included in the collection. And although the story's origin DOES make it special, I don't think being ethnically different from the other tales in the collection makes this story a truly unique retelling.

4) The book itself seems very unbalanced, with the first 50 pages alone focusing on Mulan's early childhood. Although I am normally a huge fan of backstory, in a book of less than 200 pages, the author does not have the leisure of using 1/4 of the book's volume just to discuss the protagonist's childhood. This is especially frustrating in this tale because these 50 pages seem to suggest something horrible looming in Mulan's immediate future- but in actuality, the arrival of her father and new stepmother are ultimately POSITIVE changes.

This, in and of itself would not necessarily ruin the book. However, the author adopts a rather leisurely pace, and so Mulan does not actually leave her home until page 112- leaving the heroine a mere 87 pages to establish herself as a soldier, meet the love of her life, worry about her hidden identity, experience camp life, see battle, fall in love, take down the Huns and save all of China. And yet, despite the small number of pages, the author manages to make Mulan's heroic deed and blossoming romance less interesting than the girl's quiet country childhood.

I can't say I hated the book. It was cute, and I did enjoy Mulan's narration- as misleading as it was. I also liked the "asian flavor" this story brought to the series, although it still seemed very European to me. But due to poor planning, the novel managed to be short AND meandering, which is, in my opinion, quite a feat. Perhaps this was Dokey trying to adopt a more eastern style of writing, or perhaps she was merely trying to stretch out a very short story. Whatever the case may be, I can honestly say this was not my favorite installment of the Once Upon A Time Series. Still, if you liked the Disney film, or are a fan of the series as a whole, you may want to pick this retelling up.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for enqi ༄ؘ 。˚ ⋆♡.
321 reviews584 followers
February 14, 2017
Hua Mulan's tale is renowned among my people. I am of Singaporean nationality and of Chinese race, and therefore it is a part of our culture and tradition. Where I grew up, every child will undoubtedly come to know of the fearless, brave female warrior who disguised herself as a boy and went to war in her father's place, ultimately saving all of China.

Mulan's story is a gem, a diamond in the rough, especially in this patriarchal society where women are believed to be less capable than men. Yet there have not been many Mulan retellings. I would literally sell my soul for Mulan completely reimagined by a diverse author, bringing out key aspects of the tale while adding some unique touches.

For this book I didn't exactly get the Mulan "retelling" I wanted - it was more of the exact story all over again. But then, I've already read one other retelling by Cameron Dokey, so I know her works are simple and follow the original tale word for word, and are perhaps targeted at a younger audience. Fortunately, this book was a quick read, which meant that the story didn't drag, preventing me from getting bored too easily. It's not a particular chore to get through it, nor is there anything remotely terrible about the book, but it's rather bland and has nothing special to make it stand out at all.
Profile Image for Cara.
280 reviews700 followers
August 26, 2016
Now I am an "official" I guess you could say fan now. I've read a substantial amount of these books, and now I have to read them all. Dokey is the author that writes most of these retellings and for a good reason. She's excellent at setting the stage but for some reason at the climax you just want more, but I'm happy to report that this one felt totally satisfying.

Here we have the story of Mulan. I thought that it was an interesting idea to put this in the fairy tale category. I wouldn't have thought of it myself but it does fit oddly enough. Unfortunately I don't have much background of the original tale. All my information prior to reading this book came from the Disney version. No worries it isn't a repeat and definitely gives the movie a run for its money.

Mulan never has meet her mother or father. Her mother died in childbirth and her father is a a highly respected general in the Chinese army. General Hua is heart broken when he hears the awful news because he got to marry for love, which was unheard of. He just can't face his daughter until one day he has to. Mulan is not like any girl in China. This annoyed me a little because I mean China is a HUGE country with billions of people, not one of them could be like her? Really? That aside you do see that Mulan is one of a kind because she has this yearning to be herself. She can sew, embroider, shoot an arrow, ride a horse, read, write and wield a sword. And because of all her skills and passion she will become a true hero of China.

This one is one of my favorites. Dokey captured the Chinese culture well. You sense how much respect they show for others and the importance of honor. Li Po (her childhood friend) teaches all she knows and I could see what was going to happen to him in the end. There is so much more action (not that much but a lot more than the others) and I appreciate that Mulan and Prince Jian are not physical knockouts but their characters are so bright. I loved it and that's all I can say without giving away too much.
Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
February 22, 2015
Cameron Dokey never fails to get her point across. I love the Disney movie Mulan so I had no doubt that I wouldn't at least like this book. I'm getting used to these short books.

Mulan is a great protagonist. She is different from other girls and longs to be taught something other than embroidering and being a proper young girl. So she learns (from her neighbor and friend)to read, shot arrows, sword fight, etc. Basically what boys are supposed to be learning, not girls. The only downside to this is that you keep on being reminded how great Mulan is. She is different, therefore special and you are reminded of this every other page or so. It got a bit tiresome and I think I could've still gotten the message even if Dokey only mentioned it half as much.

The first half of the book was a bit slow. I was expecting Mulan to set out on her adventure after a quarter of the book was though but it was almost halfway before she left home. I guess it was so you could see the relationship between all the characters develop so I wasn't too bothered by it. Another thing was that there was one part of the book were I didn't think that Mulan was sad enough. She was sad but -in my opinion- not enough. I won't say what it is because it'll probably give away too much.

I know I'm mostly writing what I didn't like but I did really like this book. I think it was the story in general that I liked so much. It was different from the Disney version but I still like this version too. So if you like the tale of Mulan then I say read it.

Profile Image for Ruth.
553 reviews38 followers
February 25, 2009
Prior to reading Wild Orchid, my only exposure to the story of Mulan was through the animated Disney film (which I haven’t seen since its release about ten years ago). It’s refreshing to see the Once Upon a Time series expand its boundaries from the traditional European folk & fairy tale canon. While Dokey’s fairy tale heroines tend to be somewhat similar – they want to follow their hearts and develop their own identities in spite of forces arrayed against them – Mulan’s story stands out because of the historical backdrop against which the tale is set. The expectations (both direct and unspoken) placed on Mulan as the daughter of a famous general, particularly in a society that places such emphasis on sons, gives this story an entirely different “feel” from Dokey’s other fairy tale retellings. This tale is also a shade darker than the other retellings in the series due to the war-time theme of the story. Despite the novel's short length, Dokey makes the most of it and in Mulan creates one of her strongest and most well-developed heroines. And though Jian doesn't appear until Mulan goes off to war, the relationship that develops between him & Mulan is pretty well-grounded. Wild Orchid is another solid Dokey-penned retelling, and injects some fresh life into the fairy tale series by shedding light on Chinese legends & culture.
Profile Image for Katherine.
759 reviews346 followers
May 20, 2017
”I have not led an ordinary life, nor a life that would suit everyone. I took great risks, but because I did, I also earned great rewards. I found the way to show my true face freely, without true fear. Because of this, I found true love.

Oh, yes. And I did save China.”


I’m sorry, but it should be the other way around, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. It fits with this book’s purpose, but unfortunately, it reads nothing like the Disney movie you know and love.

Mulan was one of the first Disney princesses I was introduced to when I was just starting to get into the requisite Disney princess phase. In her quest to make the ultimate self-sufficient child, my mother forwent the usual introduction of Disney princesses by boycotting the older Disney princesses in favor of more independent women.

Did I make the acquaintance of Snow White singing by the well for her true prince? Did I sing along with Cinderella as she scrubbed the floors, did the dishes, and was a general slave under the eyes of her stepmother and stepsisters? Did I dance with Sleeping Beauty and watch as a creeper stranger crept behind her in the woods and watched her fall hopelessly in instalove with him even though she knew him approximately two minutes.

Hell no.

My introduction came in the way of Ariel, Pocahontas, and Mulan (I know, Belle was probably the obvious choice, but I didn’t watch her movie until I was about 8 or so.) . I can’t recall at the moment which Disney Princess I had the pleasure of making acquaintance with first, but I know Mulan was near the beginning. The thing about Mulan was the beautiful fact that her storyline was so unique for a supposed Disney princess film. Her main problem wasn’t finding her true love or escaping a life of harsh servitude; it was trying to figure out a way to protect her beloved father from having to go to war. To bring honor to her family while at the same time being herself. To prove that she’s as capable of doing everything a man can do (and more!) For being a motherfucking badass warrior. Love wasn’t even in the script for her. She didn’t doodle on paper what her true love’s face would look like. She didn’t sing corny little songs about how someday her true man would come. NAH, SON. She had badass things she had to do.

But if you read this book, and especially if you read the quote at the beginning of this review, you’d think otherwise. The Mulan in this version is far from badass and far from being the kick-ass little lady you expect or want. Instead, we get a Mulan who tries to be a badass, has her glory moment for all of two seconds (literally. I counted), and credits her success by using one my most hated trope ever; The ‘Power of Love’ trope.
”It was the best shot I ever made, and I had done it with my heart beating in the time of Prince Jian.”
I just threw up a little in my mouth right there.

WHY DO AUTHORS FEEL THE NEED TO MAKE IT SO THAT WOMEN CAN ONLY BE SAVED BY ‘TRUE LURV’? WHY IS THIS SO NECESSARY IN THE WORLD OF YA FICTION??!!! It’s so goddamn annoying. Prince Jian maybe has six lines that he says to Mulan (maximum, I counted), and four of those lines are declaring his feelings for her even though he only spoke to her about three times beforehand when she was disguised as a male. It makes absolutely no sense and does nothing to purpotrate the blurb where Mulan says that she finds her ‘soul-mate’ in Prince Jian. Somehow that sounds a whole lot worse than ‘true love’ but oh well.

One interesting thing that this book does is take more elements of the original ballad than from the Disney movie. Henceforth, Mulan becomes the daughter of the greatest general in China rather than a mere soldier, as well as have super-de-duper secret training in the art of warfare. So in a sense, she already knows all the skills she needs to know in order to go into battle.
”I was not a boy; I was a girl. A girl who could ride a horse with or without a saddle. A girl who could shoot an arrow from a bow made for a tall, strong man and still hit her target. A girl who had never wanted what other girls want. A girl unlike any other girl in China.”
I haven’t read the original ballad, so I don’t know if this is how Mulan is introduced to the army as well. However, I actually was kind of disappointed in the knowledge that Mulan already knew everything, because then she had nothing to prove. She already did all these things as well as any other man. In the movie, Mulan knew nothing about fighting or warfare; she had to start from square one, which made for a more compelling storyline for the audience. In this version, there’s nothing here to root for. Which makes her quest to save China from the evil Huns (who get less than one chapter) rather… anti-climactic.

To be honest, the whole story was just kind of ‘meh’. The storyline concerning Mulan’s frought relationship with her father was done fairly well, but it doesn’t hold a candle to either the ballad or the Disney movie. You’ll be wishing that Mushu would randomly pop up and impart some of his wisdom

As for me, this book brought dishonor on me, the Disney movie, and the cow that I don’t even goddamn own. For more badassery, either read the ballad or watch the movie.

(And for the record, Mulan isn’t a fairy tale, it’s a ballad. But I guess they had to go with the flow as far as the marketing was concerned, not to mention that Mulan is technically a Disney princess, albeit she never actually was one. So I’m gonna let it slide.)
Profile Image for Marguerite (M).
773 reviews518 followers
May 5, 2017

Let's get down to business
To defeat the Huns
Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons?
(Yes they did)

Who doesn’t know about Mulan and how she saved China ? Cinderella ? Pfff. Sleeping Beauty ? Try again. Snow White ? I may look like her, but let’s stop there. I dreamt of being Mulan, of being a hero. Of being as good or better than a man. As a child, Mulan was the ultimate strong woman in my eyes, and she kind of still is.

You're the saddest bunch I ever met
But you can bet, before we're through
Mister, I'll make a man
out of you

The wild orchid is one of the installment of the Once upon a time series, the first I’ve read. And as you can guess, this one was about the Ballad of Mulan.
Hua Mulan, savior of China.

I watched the Disney movie lots and lots of time. I love it. I can sing you the songs and do a quite good impression of Mushu. Mulan is probably the Disney movie I’ve seen the most.
But despite loving it from the bottom of my heart, I didn’t expect this retelling to have a Disney feeling. I expected a tragic, more accurate version of the real legend. But I did not obtain what I wanted, and this was disappointing.

But it wasn’t all bad. Actually, the first – and longest- part was good, and I really liked it. It was poetic, and I really liked this young, wild and impetuous Mulan. She was a smart child, raised without parental love, too free-spirited to spend her day sewing. I liked her relation with Li Po, her best friend, and I liked the plum tree.
Then her father came home, and everything went quickly. They learnt to know each other, and the next thing after, he was marrying the young beautiful damsel who had an accident in front of their house. Next chapter, Mulan took her father’s horse and went to war, and a couple after she was a hero.
Hua Mulan, savior of China.

The war happened too quickly. Just like in the Disney movie, it was only one battle. In the original Ballad of Mulan, Mulan fought years as a man, and I guess I thought we would have more battles and heroism.
We did not.
But it was expected seeing the number of pages. A little more than 200, and we didn’t go to war until the last third.
The war happened to quickly, and ended as quickly. The love happened too quickly, the time to shoot an arrow. The end came too quickly, and I could not enjoy this second part.

But I still love Mulan. And I didn’t dislike The wild Orchid. Now bring it on, next retelling !

(Be a man)
We must be swift as the coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon
Profile Image for Katie.
633 reviews65 followers
July 7, 2019
The more I read of Cameron Dokey's Once Upon a Time series, the more I recognise her format. She starts really well, with lots of scene setting and description, and then there comes a point where she hurtles towards the ending.

The same thing happens in this book. The set up is good. We meet Mulan and her family and friends, and then she goes off to war and, where the book should slow down and give more detail, and have some conflict, it just speeds towards the ending and wraps everything up too neatly. There's no conflict at all. Mulan doesn't have to deal with any animosity from her fellow soldiers. There's very little about the horrors of war. I know this is YA, and it's a fairy tale, but young readers are mature enough these days to be able to deal with some conflict in their reading. And that conflict should be there in a war story especially.

This just wasn't believable to me. Also, Mulan was wise beyond her years and always said the right thing, which, again, wasn't believable.

Dokey's writing is lovely. She writes really nicely, but her stories become too formulaic once you've read a few of them. I've got two more of her retellings on my shelves. I hope they're better than this, but I suspect otherwise.
Profile Image for Jenna Marie ~Scheming Scribbler~.
113 reviews15 followers
October 19, 2021
I read this book years ago, and it was my first ever romance novel, along with being the first book I completely fell in love with. This book made me fall in love with reading, and to this day, I love it. It is a wonderful retelling of a classic tale, filled with emotion. While the plot kept close to the classic story, it was written in a pleasant and exciting way that made it feel new. The romance is simple and clean as can be, but perfect for younger audiences first experiencing romances. I've reread this book many times, and yet it remains intriguing each time! I highly recommend this book for anyone from ages 10+, it is a wonderful read!
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,721 reviews165 followers
October 3, 2012
2.5 stars. Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan". Enjoyable enough to read.

It really focuses on Mulan and her family. I liked that a lot. Her relationships with her father, step-mother, best friend, etc. are believable and sweet. I especially liked how close her father and her became by the end of the book. And I truly appreciated the step-mother being nice and caring; not a witch.

It is pretty much all Mulan's childhood and growth into a young woman until her family receives the summons for a man from their family to go to war against the Huns. Then Mulan runs off to take her father's place; a truly generous gesture. Pretty much like that. It is extremely rushed at the end and the story is there and then *poof* over. It needed more page time.

Had it been a 300 page book, the beginning would have been amazing. I still loved getting to know Mulan as a character before she ran off. Getting to see her in her own environment, as a child and growing up into a young woman, and learning who she is and how she ended up the awesome way she did was very welcome. But that was 3\4 of the book of a 200 page book. The ending was much too rushed.

And the romance?

Oh my gosh. Jian is boring. Mulan thinks that she loves him "because their hearts beat together." Not buying that. Mulan and Jian never get to know one another and the little time they do spend together, Jian thinks Mulan is a boy. Then she's suddenly a girl and

Jian: "Insta-love! I don't know you and I thought you were a boy until about two minutes ago but, hey baby, you saved my life and all of China, so you have got to be a great choice! Let's get married!"


Mulan: I actually kinda knew you as the person that you are right now and "loved" you before for no apparent reasoning and I didn't even know you, so this is great! Kiss me, Shen Jian!"

Romance was weak and could definitely have used some work. But the overall story\storytelling is good and it is worth a read.

I like Cameron Dokey's writing best out of all the authors that have written for the "Once Upon A Time" series. Flowing and lyrical. Love the prologues and epilogues she writes.
Profile Image for Emilia.
94 reviews
July 11, 2015
The story of a warrior

I love the story of Mulan. It's such a beautiful tale of honor, courage, and strength. Fairy Tale retellings are my favorite things to read and Mulan is a story that isn't often retold so having the opportunity to read it was awesome.

The writing was ok. If I'm being honest I wasn't the biggest fan of it. I didn't really like the whole recounting old events. I guess it gave it more of a fairy tale feel, but still I wasn't the biggest fan. Having read a lot of fairy tales, I get a little picky about the way they are told and reimagined.

The plot was good but way too slow in the beginning and way to fast at the end. It didn't give enough time for relationships to develop and empathy for the characters to grow. When stuff happened, I felt distant from the characters. I didn't feel their emotions like I had hoped. It felt like it was just a bedtime story, the ones that help you sleep at night because they force no crazy emotions out of you. Plus, I felt like it took way too long to get to the actual base of the story: the war. You didn't get there till over half way through the book. To top it off the actual time she spent as a boy was barely a third of the book and her rescue of China happened way to fast. I would've liked more development, more time spent on Mulan's struggle to hide herself.

The characters were nice but not complicated. There was no depth to them. They felt 2d rather than 3d. I didn't get attached to them and for me that was a real shame.

I recommend this book to those who love a nice simple fairy tale and Mulan. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books479 followers
November 9, 2012
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

Mulan's mother died during labor. Her father, a great General in the army, was heartbroken. He's never been home since he heard the news. Thus, Mulan lost both her parents on the same day.

Mulan is not your typical girl. Instead, she climbs trees and despises needlework. She meets the boy next door and the two of them form a friendship. He teaches her archery, how to ride a horse, how to use a sword, and, finally, how to read and write.

When her father comes home, everything changes. First, she must learn how to trust and obey him. Second, she must learn how to love him and her new stepmother. Just when she's finally found herself a new family, the Huns appear on the horizon of China. The men are called back to war.

Mulan, unwilling to let her father go with a bad leg and a new family, disguises herself and takes his place instead. Her first day there, she catches the ears of one of the king's sons. He engages her in an archery contest. From then on, Mulan is famous throughout the camp.

With the Huns quickly approaching, all three princes have different ideas on how to defend China. Mulan mistakenly speaks out during a strategizing session. Prince Jian immediately seizes her idea. But will it be enough to save China?

This new ONCE UPON A TIME addition weaves together the wonders of ancient China, a budding romance, a feisty girl, and the true meaning of both friendship and family in a fantastic fairy tale edition.

Profile Image for Lindsey.
169 reviews
March 20, 2013
Fun, quick read. I'm always happy with a happy love story ending as well.

I do have to say that I think they could have gotten a more oriental looking girl to model for the cover. I'm annoyed by the girl every time I look at the cover.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,180 reviews46 followers
March 16, 2019
"It's just...being a girl is so hard sometimes. It always seems to be about pleasing somebody else."

The Wild Orchid is a reimagining of the Chinese ballad of Mulan, the girl who pretended to be a man so she could take her father's place in the emperor's army, amassed to fight the Mongolian invaders.

From the perspective of viewing this as a retelling, this novel was nothing spectacular. The characters slowly unfurled and blossomed into themselves and their relationships and interactions were both sweet and heartbreaking, but the overall take on the story was basic. To top this off, I loved the idea of a novel based on the story of Mulan (Disney tried but did not really do it justice), but once I started reading it the writing style was too inauthentic and juvenile for me to become fully immersed. I was extremely disappointed, because the plotline itself was interesting, but I just could not get past the author's choppy, simplistic voice that in no way read as if the narrator was from any part of China. It was an easy read, but I will have to search for a better retelling. (Does one exist? I hope to find out).
Profile Image for AshFayeVA.
29 reviews
April 24, 2021
Well that was.... anticlimactic? I guess that’s what I would call it. I was a little worried about reading this book because I thought it might be boring. As it turns out I was right, unfortunately. There were so many issues that I had with it. I wish this story was more accurate in Chinese history. It was very similar to the Disney movie Mulan, which I do love btw, but I know even that movie got ridiculed by China because it didn’t follow their history and laws. So I would hope that the author of the book that would retell the story would actually do some research and learn what their culture was like back then so this could be an accurate portrayal. But no, they did not. I will also say that this book dragged leading up to the war and then there was basically no war. Barely even a fight for that matter. Mulan fought more in the Disney movie and had way more action than this book. I was very disappointed. I really did hope that this book would prove to be better than how I felt before I started reading it but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
Profile Image for Jammin Jenny.
1,343 reviews179 followers
January 18, 2021
I really enjoyed this retelling of the story of Mulan, China's warrior princess who saved China from the Huns. I loved seeing her grow up, being different, and only having one true friend Li Po who understood her and helped her become who she wanted to be. I also loved her father warming up to her and finding love again. And Prince Jian was amazing too. Great story.
Profile Image for Emmie.
13 reviews2 followers
September 17, 2020
2.5 stars. It's a good idea. But it doesn't seem finished. It's a good draft for a book, not a finished product.
Profile Image for Amanda Cordeiro.
23 reviews1 follower
April 26, 2021
Loved this retelling of Mulan, one of my favourites. I couldn’t put the book down when I read it!
Profile Image for Apollo Mul.
134 reviews4 followers
May 31, 2021
I had a good time reading this. It was a quick read, and while I wished it had been paced better, I had fun.
155 reviews18 followers
August 5, 2021
I totally loved this Mula ln retelling. I had a hard time remembering it was a twist on the original, it was so good it should be the original!
April 23, 2018
Retelling of Mulan. I've always thought that it was more plausible of her to already have a background in archery, and swordplay that to just up and join the Chinese army and automatically become a hero that saves China.
Profile Image for The Daydreamologist.
291 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2018

If you're a fan of disney, even if in a distant, secret, 'I'm-not-going-to-admit-it kind of way, you've probably heard of Mulan. Frankly, she's my favourite Disney Princess, but that doesn't really matter.
Anyways, you might understand why I was a bit hesitant to start this retelling , as it might spoil my favourite heroine for me, in plain words. But I shouldn't have worried one bit. This was heartwarming and heart touching, to say the very least. The movie and the story are a fairly different from each other, though they're still similar in the vital parts, which means that you shouldn't go in expecting that you know all what happens. It's quite lovely.

The tale is told from Mulan's personal point of view, with fillings in of everything you need to know, and it was rather comfortable; being without the usual amount of guesswork.

Mulan is unlike any other girl in China (born in the year of the monkey, month of the dog, time of the tiger, and this is not making much sense, I know, but her birth has a lot of consequence, I assure you! ), with a treasure of a best friend in the name of Li Po. Go read about him, you'll wish he's available for order on Amazon. Or something.

Li Po plays a major role in Mulan's life, and I'm prettyy glad to say that they do stay friends only - because their friendship was too beautiful to ne marred by something like uncalled for romance- but lovely bit of chaste romance does come for Mulan from another quarter, making this wonderous tale love-triangle-free. Which I am most endlessly grateful for.

Now, to business.

Plot: Wonderful, does not go on leisurely strolls off the road, and neither does it get lost along the way or finds itself going in a circle. So no worries there.

Setting: This, ofcourse, is China, and I do envy Chinese people a little for their richer-than-gold culture and history.The book provides such a lovely portrayal of Chinese culture, giving me a new appreciation for it. We've started studying a bit about China at school -specifically it's history- and I know more is coming along the way, so this will be quite helpful to both my memory and imagination.

Characters: I loved them all. Except for Prince Guang. He can go get lost somewhere.

Content: I'm not at all aware of any profanity, so of it's there, it's very scarce (I don't usually notice profanity unless I'm forced to by it's repetition). As to the other type of content, the,ahem, sexual one, there is nothing beyond a small kiss. So we are perfectly safe.

I'll admit I think the movie beats the book, but only by a few hair breadths -I am a fan of Animation, after all - due to these :

1) The insta-love, but it was quite reasonable, and did not have you wondering for a moment what they could see in each other . It was barely even there. And Mulan is quite sensible, with an apparent brain in her upper story.
2)The too, too quick ending. And poor Li Po.Why?Why?

All in all, this was a true treasure (this is one of my favourite phrases, it seems ) of a tale, and well worth the time, money and thought spent on it. Go Read It.

🌟To Catch A Falling Star🌟

Profile Image for Drew Graham.
1,071 reviews31 followers
December 19, 2016
Young Hua Mulan has never met her parents. Her mother died giving birth to her only child, and her father left to war shortly after, too pained at the sight of the cause of his beloved wife's death (a daughter, no less) to remain. Raised by the same nurse who watched over her mother, Mulan wants nothing more than to be allowed to be herself and engage in her own interests -- not suffer through wearying weaving and endless embroidery, but learn to ride, shoot, read and write with her friend, a boy named Li Po from a nearby household. (Though of course her secret and deepest desire is to learn more of her mother and earn her father's respect and affection.) When the great General returns unexpectedly from the battlefield, Mulan is put to the test in more ways than one, and only hopes she can fulfill her hopes and dreams.

Full disclosure: This book isn't my usual fare, and it definitely wasn't written for me. (Even typing out that synopsis makes me feel a little silly about having read it.) But, when looking up books about Mulan for my Disney source material read-through, this one came up, and I thought (before realizing that it was part of the Once Upon a Time series...) that it would be fun to read a novelized retelling of this story, and it actually wasn't the worst. It wasn't totally original or compelling literature, but the writing wasn't offensive and the storytelling clipped along just fine. It was kind of shallow and tried for a lot more artistry than it actually accomplished, but it was harmless. They made Mulan into a little more of a tomboy than I like (the whole point of her going to war is that it's totally out of her comfort zone), but I liked Li Po and the relationship between Mulan and her father. I think it felt a little too long (oh, the introspection...), and at one point I wondered if she even would go to war in this version, there just didn't seem to be many signs even as far as halfway through, which means that, yes, the war part seemed a little tacked on and rushed, especially considering it's supposed to introduce the potential soulmate and all, but it checked all the boxes and I'm sure was just enough war and battle drama for those who typically read this genre.

This book thought it was really deep, and while it wasn't, it was still harmless fluff. It's a loose adaptation of the legend of Mulan, and it has some modern sensibilities infused in (Middle Ages for the modern reader, I guess), but it also actually has some nice touches of authenticity here and there. It wasn't offensive as literature but it's definitely not my thing. This is my first, and probably last foray into this Once Upon a Time series, but if I had to read one in my lifetime, I have a feeling this was probably an okay one to read.
Profile Image for JG (Introverted Reader).
1,112 reviews483 followers
April 26, 2011
Mulan's mother died in childbirth, leaving her father heart-broken. He can't bring himself to come home from the battlefield and visit the child who cost his beloved wife her life. When he finally does return home after the emperor dismisses him, he finds Mulan a young teen who very much has a mind of her own. She is a brilliant, talented girl. Her best friend Li Po teaches her to read and write and shoot a bow and arrow. Her caretaker teaches her embroidery. Of course there are bumps along the way as Mulan and her father get to know each other for the first time. But when the Emperor summons his men to fight the Huns, Mulan knows that she can't let her injured father go fight as a regular soldier. Those archery lessons just might come in handy after all.

This was a decent book, but I have a couple of complaints. I was excited to read a non-Western fairy tale re-telling. And while I did enjoy the story, and I really liked Mulan herself, this book stayed a little too faithful to what I know of the legend from the Disney movie. I enjoy re-tellings that add an unusual twist to the story, or develop characters more fully. I don't really feel like I got that here. Mulan was pretty well-developed, but I can't say the same for any of the other characters. There are two separate love stories, and I have to say that I was surprised by both. Sure, I knew they were going to happen, but it was just sort of like they met and they were in love. There was no buildup to it. Also, the ending felt a bit rushed. I don't know what could have been done to change that, but I read the big crashing climax and was left thinking, "That's it? All this build up for that?"

Those complaints aside, I did like Mulan a lot. I wouldn't call myself a tomboy, but neither can I imagine mindlessly embroidering my life away. I wouldn't have the guts to do what Mulan did though, and I admire her for doing it. It's always fun to read about characters who do what you can only dream of.

I'm being harder on this than I really intended to be. It wasn't bad, I just think that it could have been better. As it is, I'll probably quickly forget that I ever read it. If you don't mind such a straight-forward telling of the story, you will probably enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Janus the Erudite Artist.
702 reviews88 followers
October 10, 2011
Not exactly a tale that I find memorable and exciting. I appreciated the first parts of this book but as the story progressed, I came to notice how shallow and uneventful it turned out to be.

I didn’t get to know the characters very well. Mulan’s character was fairly established but as for everyone else, I just got a glimpse or two of their names and not much of their personality. I also find that Mulan’s love interest, Prince Jian (…is that his name? correct me if I’m wrong.) a very unreal character. It feels forced when the author made them connect with each other, because first of all, we know Mulan pretended to be a boy so when they were having this deep conversation about their feelings, do you seriously believe guys would have that deep of a heart-to-heart talk when they’ve only met for like a couple of hours ago?

I’m really bothered by the pacing of the story. Almost half of the book talked about Mulan’s childhood, which was good but cannot really suffice for the lack of incidents that occurred with the remaining pages of the book. The events that followed was the preparation for war and the war itself which felt like a speeding car zooming across the highway, so fast that you didn’t even get the chance to see what kind of car passed by. Totally frustrating.

I also feel like there weren’t any challenging events for Mulan. Yes, they are on the verge of war and there are issues between the princes of the kingdom but there wasn’t any groundbreaking climax.

In spite all that, I do have to say that it wasn’t all bad. I love Mulan’s voice and the enriching relationship she was able to develop with her father and her stepmother. I love the idea of willing to sacrifice yourself for the happiness of your loved ones.

For more of my reviews, please visit my blog:
The Blair Book Project @ www.theblairbookproject.blogspot.com
274 reviews333 followers
September 7, 2016
This is the second book I have read by Cameron Dokey. Although I liked this book better than Golden, I had problems with it. Not big problems, but problems are problems.

First, the character’s name. After Mulan disguises herself as a boy, she calls herself Gong-shi, meaning Bow-and-Arrow. I don’t know where the author got the name from, but it should be Gong-jian. Which is sort of weird, because Jian is the Prince's name...

My biggest problem is Mulan herself. Of course, every retelling is different--some things are added and others are taken away. What I didn't like is that everything seemed to come so easily for Mulan. Her father says, "I have a daughter who can read, write, ride a horse, wield a sword, and accurately shoot an arrow with a bow that would make a strong young man work hard. She can also weave, sew as fine a seam as I have ever seen, and embroider." Mulan can do all that, and without that much effort. She has the skills of both boys and girls, but what does she fail at. NOTHING. Where's the flaws? Everyone has them, and Mulan shouldn't be an exception.

Oh yeah, and then there's that minor problem with her relationship with the prince. Their 'love' is not love. In the same day, Prince Jian finds out Mulan is a girl and asks her to marry him. What's the sense in that? Sure, they've got this deep understanding, or whatever, but you've got to be kidding. It's not normal. AT ALL.

You would think with all this, I'd give it less than 4 stars. Gah, I still really liked it anyway though. <3
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