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The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  258 ratings  ·  110 reviews
CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families se
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Tu Books
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  258 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Chaima ✨ شيماء
A Mulan retelling? my heart says yes but my head says, "you've been burned before"
Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
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I really hope this is legit.

Ooo this finally has a title! The Magnolia part really makes me think of the Mulan Chinese drama I watched a while back.
Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
Last time a book lured me in with the promise of a Mulan retelling, I was so disappointed because the storyline barely resembled Mulan, save for the fact that the heroine dressed as a boy (yes, Flame in the Mist, I'm looking at you). But this premise sounds more like an actual retelling. Written by a Chinese-American author who knows her shit. So, you'd better deliver me what you promise, book!

Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
If there was one person I knew I could trust to do a retelling of the Mulan ballad, it would be Sherry Thomas.

I am so pleased to say that trust wasn't misplaced because not only was this an incredible read but it was captivating, entertaining and had enough of Sherry's creative imagination added to the story that it almost felt like it could stand up all on it's own and not even be a retelling, while still maintaining the integrity of the original. It short, it was breathtaking.

So hard to put
Simona Bartolotta
Sep 29, 2017 marked it as wishlist
Be still my beating heart.

Nenia ✨ Literary Garbage Can ✨ Campbell

This better be good. The last couple Mulan "retellings" I read were garbage. lol
Cheryl Klein
This is the first novel I signed up as an editor at Lee & Low, and it has all the excellent things you want a Mulan retelling to have: a Mulan who's figuring out who she is, an epic sweep in the war against the Northerners, family drama, terrific fight scenes, romance. I've loved reading every draft, and I think readers will love it too.
Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]
Every woman has a great deal of experience presenting herself as someone other than who she is, since no girl is ever everything the world wants her to be.

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS. This is, without a doubt, the BEST Mulan retelling I have ever read.

Granted, I don’t remember having read a huge number of Mulan retellings. But this one is definitely still the best, by any margin. It’s gloriously well-researched, with spectacular characterisation and writing, and though I’ve rounded down (because I
Mogsy (MMOGC)
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

After consistently being disappointed by so many books described as “Mulan retellings”, you can probably understand why I went into The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan with no small amount of trepidation (though of course I could hardly resist it). And quite honestly? I was blown away by this “Own Voices” novel. Sherry Thomas has written a refreshing new take on this famous Chinese folktale about the legendary female war
From the minute I learned that Sherry Thomas was writing a YA Mulan retelling, I could barely contain my excitement. Like many others my age who grew up with the Disney renaissance, I am a fan of the Disney movie, but I knew that was a very... Disney-fied version of the story. However, I just knew this was going to be good, and I couldn't wait to read an ownvoices Mulan retelling. I wasn't that familiar with the story aside from Disney, but from what I can tell, this book sticks closer to the mo ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually do early reviews, but when I do, it's because the book was very good. And this one is better than that.

This book is so sweet and elegant and with so much restraint. There's not an extra ounce of fat in it but just the right amount to give it all the flavor; everything has a reason to be, and the world is so seamlessly rendered that it was easy to just be in it and let the story take me where it wanted. Mulan is a wonderful heroine, and so are all the the other characters. The ro
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

The Buzz

Mulan retellings are such fun! I love crossdressing Asian girls who just want to be acknowledged. I liked the sound of an elite team and an almost Romeo and Juliet inspired family feud.

The cover is so pretty! I wasn't sure about the cumbersome title... The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan ... come on! What a mouthful!! I thought the cover made it pretty obvious it was a Mulan retelling without the whole Mulan in big letters. I do howev
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
Well I mean...I have more faith in this than the film adaptation currently in the works.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Magnolia Sword is a story of finding our courage. There’s the thrill of swordplay, the right amount of swoon, and the question of stories. In a world that relies on our stories, how can we know that the version we know is the truth?

I have read a few other Sherry Thomas books, very much enjoying the Sherlock Holmes’ retellings, and now I can add The Magnolia Sword to the list. The
Jan 14, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: coming-soon-19

edit 1/31/19: title ALERT TITLE ALERT holy FORKING shirtballs. VERY VERY GOOD beautiful AHH flowers SHE i love MY WiFE baalllaaaddd and SWORDSSSSS

edit 3/8/19: cover ALERT. Jesus Christ this book could be used as a WEAPON. I LOVE HER. nUt.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

“I am not JUST a girl - no woman is. And if Heaven has deposited me at this time and place, then I AM meant to deal with these problems, no matter their scale of consequence.”

The Ballad of Hua Mulan, made popular through the Disney animation, is something that resonates in most young Chinese-American’s hearts. I say that because *I* have grown up watching this movie, as well as learning the inconsistencies it gives. (And while there are historical inaccuracies, I honestly believe it’s
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Anuda-Be by: Annette
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Somewhere between two and three stars. I liked the novel in general but was disappointed at the same time. Mulan is a brave woman in the original ballad but lacks colour and character here. I expected more thrilling action and oh how I hate (view spoiler).
♠️ TABI ♠️
Jul 13, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: edelweiss
While I was utterly annoyed and bored by her Sherlock retelling flop . . . anything Mulan will always call to me okay
Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Magnolia Sword is one of my rare 5 star reviews of the year. I had low expectations because I've never really liked retellings. But this book was just a revelation from the first page. It opens with Mulan training to be the son her father never had for a "contest" against their families greatest "enemy." She is bad-ass but also is uncertain of herself as well as what her place in the world is or means. What does it mean to have to act like a man in a man's world but actually be a woman? We w ...more
Sep 27, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: retellings, 2019
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my dear reading friends. Mulan has always held a special place in my heart. Fierce capable warrior who defies tradition to protect her family and country? Sign me up.

And as a fan of Mulan, its been a bountiful (if mixed) decade of books, live action news (both the Chinese Mulan and the forthcoming Disney movie) and discourse over the original Disney animated film.

None of which I can speak to as anything but a fan of the Ballad and film since it doesn't effect me racially or culturally.

This bo
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Review can be found on *Milky Way of Books*

Let's take a moment and appreciate the fact that the author researched THE HELL OUT of this! As someone who has done research and cross-referenced to ancient history, diving into the huge and vibrant and vast history of China left me satisfied and very enamored with this version of Mulan. I grew up with the Disney movie, then read the real life of the heroine and then proceeded to read
Barb in Maryland
All the stars. Plus another star for the gorgeous cover.

10 year old me would have bought this with my own money and then read it to pieces. It has everything the younger me wanted in a story--real history, action, adventure, and Romance.

70 year old me wants the same things in a story and this one satisfied me right down to my bones. The characters are real people, with flaws and strengths and the ability to grow emotionally. The prose is fluid and rich, without being ornate or overblown. The aut
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2019, edelweiss
Thanks to the publisher, via Edelweiss, for an advance e-galley for honest review.

Truth be told, my entire familiarity with the story of Mulan up until this point was based on the Disney animated version. This book felt like an excellent way to start righting that. The story was moving and fascinating- quickly paced, but with enough information to provide context. It's a YA novel (that definitely has appeal for adults) that I'd be comfortable handing to any teen.
Lenore .
May 03, 2019 marked it as im-a-dreamer-but-its-hard-to-sleep
Shelves: arc-2019
Excited to start my ARC soon!
Amélie Boucher
Apr 14, 2019 marked it as to-read
An own voices Mulan retelling? YES PLEASE
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can anyone please tell me there's a sequel?!?
Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)
Oh. My. God.


Seriously, though. Don't disappoint me. *shakes fists at book*
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This was a really solid Mulan-inspired story. Mulan has always been my favorite and I love how much research Thomas did and the ways in which she based it off the actual stories of Hua Mulan.

Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Disney's Mulan has been one of my favorites since I was a kid. Once older, I discovered that the story of Hua Mulan was based on an ancient ballad, The Ballad of Hua Mulan. Whether Mulan was a real figure in history or not is unproven, but I have loved the stor
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