Saturday, May 19, 2012
Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang
She's not sixteen yet, but Emmajin is a bold athletic young woman who badly wants to become a soldier. Her Mongol grandfather has a soft spot for her, but has no desire for her to fight. If that wasn't enough to frustrate her, she meets a young foreigner named Marco Polo...
Ember, a division of Random House Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you). It has been published and you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.
This story reminded me a bit of the Disney movie, Mulan. The only real comparison is the fact these are women fighting with men. However, Mulan disguises herself as a man. Emmajin is a princess and sent out as a soldier by the Khan, so she needs no disguise. She wears the same clothing as the men because it's easier to move it and keeps her from standing out.
Emmajin finds herself attracted to Marco. They can't have a relationship because she's a princess and he's a foreigner, but that doesn't mean they don't talk and grow fond of each other. Especially since she's supposed to be acting as a spy. Her attraction to him shows, though.
This author writes a full bodied story with authentic historical references and a good vivid look at this slice in time when the Khan is deciding how much of the world to conquer. Her main female character finds getting what you want might not be really what you needed and has consequences you can't foresee. She also learns that friendships are sometimes all you can have.
The story kept my attention and I enjoyed seeing what Emmajin would do next. She's a real independent spirit and I enjoyed traveling with her. Why don't you visit the Khan's family and see how Emmajin survives?