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Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
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really liked it
bookshelves: diverse-books, fantasy, young-adult

I very much enjoyed reading Stronger than a Bronze Dragon. This book is packed with action, a fierce heroine, and a very compelling story.

I really loved the two main characters, Anlei and Tai. Anlei was such a treasure to read about; she's loyal to her family and village almost to a fault, restless, and always leaps to the occasion whenever she has a chance to, even if she knows it'll get her in trouble. I admire her bravery and sense of duty so much. Like, girl never rests throughout the entire book - she spends the whole of it fighting to live as she wants to, being a warrior, despite her upcoming marriage to Viceroy Kang forbidding her from it. It looms over the whole book, more menacing than any of the fantasy creatures that appear, and you can really see how much Anlei loves being free and able to fight for her people.

As for Tai, I just want to wrap him up in a blanket and tell him everything will be okay. He was so good and bright and happy throughout most of the book, but part of it is a farce and he's also been through so much and it makes me want to protect him so badly. The romance was actually really cute - yeah, it was a bit insta-love, but there was so much great banter between Tai and Anlei and I'm a sucker for banter and snark between love interests. They had such a great dynamic together at all points of their storyline, and I liked seeing Anlei figure out her complicated feelings around Tai.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon has some really incredible worldbuilding--and by that I mean it takes place in a magical steampunk equivalent of China. It's something you wouldn't immediately think would work well, but it works excellently, blending elements of Chinese history and culture and the steampunk aesthetic seamlessly. There are so many different kinds of magic and worldbuilding that I've never read about before, with two very fascinating types of spirits playing a role in the story: Ligui, shadow spirits, and Yueshen, living light spirits. I'm not sure if it comes from Chinese culture/mythology or not, but I loved reading about new ideas in fantasy and seeing how everything came together.

The story is super fast-paced and packed with action from beginning to end. There's a lot to this world, so the book takes a bit of time to really get going, but once it does it never stops. It does get a little tiring to read at times because it doesn't allow much time for quieter scenes - I do think that the book could be a little more evenly paced, and I did find the writing somewhat awkward at times. But I definitely think that it's really easy to binge this book - I read the last third in one sitting.

I definitely recommend Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon, especially to anyone who's looking for new, interesting, and diverse fantasy worlds. It's a very fun book that's filled with adventure, and a great addition to the compendium of YA fantasy.
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Reading Progress

April 22, 2019 – Shelved
April 22, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
May 19, 2019 – Started Reading
June 3, 2019 –
page 0
June 3, 2019 –
page 0
June 3, 2019 – Shelved as: diverse-books
June 3, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 3, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 3, 2019 – Finished Reading

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