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She Who Became the Sun

(The Radiant Emperor #1)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,365 ratings  ·  746 reviews
Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan's She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two
Kindle Edition, US Edition, 416 pages
Published July 20th 2021 by Tor Books
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Shelley Parker-Chan Hopefully you don’t mind if I answer this one! There are two storylines, and each storyline has a genderqueer protagonist: one is assigned female at b…moreHopefully you don’t mind if I answer this one! There are two storylines, and each storyline has a genderqueer protagonist: one is assigned female at birth (but doesn’t identify as female), and the other is assigned male at birth and identifies as male (but is a eunuch with a gender nonconforming appearance). The AFAB character has a relationship with a woman, and the AMAB character has a relationship with a man.(less)

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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chai ♡
[puts head in hands] this novel spins out the most brilliant and wounding words about the febrile nature of desire, the terrible gnawing feelings of gender dysphoria, the habitable sorrows of unbelonging, and so many moments of fugitive tenderness between unresolvable opposites. I am going to let this story haunt me for a very long time.

Full review to come, but in case you're wondering: yes, they said it's "Mulan meets The Song of Achilles" and they were NOT kidding.
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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ARC provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

She Who Became the Sun has the bravery to pitch itself as The Song of Achilles meets Mulan and actually live up to it.

If you’re active on bookish social media, you should know that She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is one of the two most hyped books published by Tor Books this year; the other one being The Blacktongue Thie
Apr 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
forget ‘the song of achilles’ comparison you just read in the synopsis/publisher pitch. just pretend you never saw it because it will be doing you a disservice. this is not that kind of book.

this is more similar to ‘the poppy war.’ its a dark, brutal, unforgiving tale about characters who will do whatever they can in order the achieve what they believe is their fate.

there is no soft, wholesome love in these pages. there are antiheroes who use people and connections in order to serve their purp
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, love
↠ 4.5 stars

This was pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles, and it was that and so much more. A glorious epic in every sense of the word. Fate is a tricky thing, and after hearing a fortune teller give reference to her brother's destiny for greatness, the girl expects to hear very much the same. However, her own destiny is revealed to be just that: nothing. While her brother is fated to rise up and leave his mark upon the world, she is expected to fade from view, unremembered. Starving and
may ➹
4.5 stars

Just from reading the first few chapters of She Who Became the Sun, I could tell it would become an instant favorite. And it quickly did, with its reprehensible yet loveable characters and devastating finish. A tale dipped in tragedy and written in exquisite prose, this historical fantasy is epic in all sense of the word; it will captivate you with its intricate character work and unpacking of destiny and gender, and then break your heart.

She Who Became the Sun follows Zhu Chongba as th
Rebecca Roanhorse
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An absolute stunner. Move this to the top of your TBR pile and buckle up. First, a note about the comps. Comps are funny things, and the industry loves them, and some readers love them, too, but I'm not sure the comps on this one (Mulan and Song of Achilles) do this book justice. Yes, there's a girl who disguises herself as a boy and becomes a general but not out of duty or honor or any of that noble stuff. She does it because she covets. She wants. She sees a destiny meant for another and seize ...more
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Melanie by: may ➹

ARC provided by TOR - thank you so very much!

this was truly so magnificent, and will for sure make my best books of 2021 list (if not my favorite book of the year, too)! full review to come before publication, but i truly am simply just a ouyang apologist.

Content and Trigger Warnings: starvation, loss of a loved one, death, murder, mass murder, gore, war themes, brief mention of cannibalisms, hurt to an animal, death of an animal, mention of slavery, non-consensual castration in past, mention o
Althea | themoonwholistens ☾
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: dark and intense adult epic high fantasy
✧ you can find this review and more on my blog

This is the queer epic fantasy we all needed.

Before reading, I didn’t know what exactly to expect with “Mulan meets The Song of Achilles” but it is just that, while being so painfully aware of it’s own setting that reminds me more of The Poppy War with its brutal nature. Accompanied by a unique perspective, charming yet complex cast, lyrical prose, and immersive writing style that hits all the right emotions.

— overall thoughts: 4.5 —
content warni
katie ❀
i am utterly broken, but this was the easiest five stars i've ever given.

This was probably my most anticipated read of 2021, and I was bitterly disappointed.

She Who Became the Sun reminds me of Mulan and The Poppy War, with none of the humor of the former and none of the weight of the latter. Zhu was like Rin, if Rin had less ambition and less personality. There were two characters named Chaghan and Altan, which reminded me of TPW. And a certain character lost a hand, just like in that series... But maybe I'm looking too much into it.

The only character I liked was
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
**3.5-stars rounded up**

Initially, I was going to think on this for a bit before writing my review, but I am just going to do it. Bite the bullet, say what I have to say and perhaps, tick off a couple of people along the way.

She Who Became the Sun was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I fully expected to give it 5-stars. Unfortunately, that's not the experience I had.

The first 25%, I was hooked. We meet a young girl, a peasant of the Central Plains of China, who adopts her brot
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
MY REVIEW: 4.5 Stars ⭐️

I loved the main character, Zhu! She does whatever she has to do, disguising herself as her brother, to survive and make her claim to fame so to speak. (Turns out the seerer was correct, read the book)

There are other wonderful characters in the book, even the villains are fleshed out nicely. And everyone in the the book has some kind of underlying issues.

Some would say Zhu is a villain of sorts but she just does whatever she has to in this world and to me, I just can’t
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
She Who Became the Sun is one of my Top 5 Anticipated Releases of 2021, and the first of those 5 that I've read. And I'm utterly delighted that it did not disappoint at all.

A historical retelling that follows a lowly girl as she steals her brother's name and illustrious fate to rise from peasant to monk to military commander (and in the sequel, emperor), it is a book that shines with Zhu's desire for the fate of greatness.

full rtc to come when it's not 2am.

(will say I'm not entirely sold on t
Shelley Parker-Chan
Oct 08, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Hello friends, this contains content warnings for SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN.

SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN is a book about gender identity (amongst other things). While the two genderqueer protagonists reflect aspects of my own experiences of genderqueerness, this doesn't mean these perspectives are necessarily affirming to any other LGBTQIA+ identifying persons. Please read the warnings if you're concerned, and take care of yourselves.

Most violence occurs offscreen, and the level of depicted blood and gor
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

“The body became used to exercise, particular sounds and sensations, or even physical pain. But it was strange how shame was something you never became inured to: each time hurt just as much as the first.”

So this book is marketed as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and as soon as I saw that, there was no way I was not gonna read it. Those literally are one of my favorite animation movies as a kid and one
3.5 stars

History, gay romance, ambition, war, backstabbing and dead people everywhere 💀

This book was so elaborate, so complex, with exceptional historical representation and I’m shocked this is a debut. The talent™!
The choice of putting these characters with contrasting personalities together was also very smart: I mean, a prince loved by everyone and a broody introverted general? That’s an easy win. A cold-hearted sarcastic resolute monk and a kind altruistic maternal woman? No need to say more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
When she hears a fortune teller promise her brother a life of greatness, ‘the girl’ is desperate to hear her own fate. Begging for a reading, she receives a terrible answer: nothing. Unnamed and unwanted, she is to disappear without a trace, no mark left upon this world. Until an unexpected tragedy opens the possibility of something more. In that moment, the girl with no future decides to seize her brother’s… along with his identity. But how long can she fool Heaven into thinking she’s the one w ...more
/ / Read more reviews on my blog / /

This book OBLITERATED me 🙃

Desire is the cause of all suffering. All Zhu had ever desired was to live. Now she felt the pure strength of that desire inside her, as inseparable as her breath or qi, and knew she would suffer from it. She couldn’t even begin to imagine the awful magnitude of the suffering that would be required to achieve greatness in the chaotic, violent world outside.”

While I can see why She Who Became the Sun has drawn comparisons to Mulan
Jul 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 rounded up)

While I enjoyed much of the last third of the books, the first half or so fell flat in my opinion. The switches in POV made it really hard to get through this book because I simply didn't care about a lot of the characters, but I started liking them more towards the end.

Overall, I thought the story was interesting and I really ending up liking the romance. I also appreciated the gender non-conforming lesbian representation! While this book did have some drawbacks, I'm still reall
Samantha Shannon
Magnificent in every way. War, desire, vengeance, politics – Shelley Parker-Chan has perfectly measured each ingredient of this queer historical epic.

Glinting with bright rays of wit and tenderness, yet unafraid to delve into the deep shadows of human ambition, She Who Became the Sun, like Zhu, is unquestionably destined for greatness.
Alix Harrow
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
well, shit.

gorgeous writing, aching tragedy, acres of yearning, miles of ambition, true histories mixed with true magic--this book wrecked me and it will wreck you too.
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
Mulan meets Song of Achilles?

Oh my gOD
In this first part of what is to be a two book epic, Shelley Parker-Chan has written a reimagining of what is known as the Red Turban rebellion in 1351-1368 in China that led to the overthrow of the Mongol led Yuan dynasty and the establishment of the Ming dynasty. Based on the actual battles and leaders of the opposing armies, it’s a sweeping saga of war, treachery, ambition, revenge and love.

As well as injecting a slight fantasy element, the author has also chosen to make the two main characte
On my blog.

Rep: Chinese & Mongolian cast, nonbinary lesbian mc, lesbian mc, gay mc, bi mc

CWs: violence

Galley provided by publisher

I described this book as “the kind of book where it’s a complete understatement to say it wrecked me. This book does not just wreck you. This book pulls out your heart with a pair of tweezers, stomps all over it, sets it on fire and, when it’s done, hands it back to you and says come back for the sequel!! And all you can do is say thank you.” in a recent rec li
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
OMG. Now, this is one efferveescent book. The MC is a veritable epitome of the will to live.
William Gwynne
Apr 08, 2021 is currently reading it
To hear a short pitch of this fantasy debut from Shelley Parker-Chan herself, to see if this is for you, you can click on a link here - The Brothers Gwynne

She Who Became the Sun has now been published! Around halfway through now and it is an impressively well-written story. Wonderful progression of plot and character

Been given access to an early edition of She Who Became the Sun on Netgalley. Cannot wait to dive into this. It seems like this debut will be on the of the biggest SFF releases of 20
Jenny Lawson
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a longer sort of read and it had SO MANY characters, which I usually find very confusing, but I was super invested and it was totally worth the work. Fascinating characters and wonderful world-building.
Jan 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021, lgbtq
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
read full review on my blog!

She Who Became the Sun is unlike anything I’ve ever read, or will ever read. Asian representation? Check. Genderqueer characters? Check. Uniquely fleshed out plot? Check. Impactful and emotional moments? Check.

Glorious in every sense, She Who Became the Sun is a queer reimagining of Zhu Yuanzhang, the peasant-turned-found emperor of Ming Dynasty, in which Shelley Parker-Chan transports us to 14th century Mongol occupied imperial China, where in a famine stricken villa
W O W. Rtc but this was amazing!!!
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Shelley Parker-Chan (she/they) is an Asian-Australian former diplomat and international development adviser who spent nearly a decade working on human rights, gender equality and LGBT rights in Southeast Asia. Named after the Romantic poet, she was raised on a steady diet of Greek myths, Arthurian legend and Chinese tales of suffering and tragic romance. Her writing owes more than a little to all ...more

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