When I caught wind that Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon was an Asian-inspired fantasy, I immediately added it to my want-to-read list. I noticed that Fantastic Flying Book Club was organizing a blog tour for it, so I signed up and was very lucky to be chosen to participate. Stay tuned for more details, a tour schedule and giveaway down below!
Like the legendary Warrioress, I will slay my enemy and reap the glory.
In this fantasy world, magic very much exists, but in subtle ways–ghosts appearing to their loved ones is not uncommon, and moon spirits called Yueshen sometimes frequent the Earth. Spellmasters also utilize magic to craft machines like flying ships, and spectacles that help you see in the dark. It was quite endearing to read about a world where magic is just a part of everyday life.
I loved that I was able to recognize some of the Chinese words used in this book, like shagua (idiot), jiejie (older sister), jiang (river) and more. I know this might not matter to some people, but as a Chinese person, it warmed my heart to see Mandarin present within the pages of a book.
Liang Anlei, our protagonist, is a warrior at heart, who’s hell-bent on getting revenge on the Ligui who killed her father, but at the same time, her love for her mother and sister, along with Dailan, her village, knows no bounds. She agrees to enter a marriage to a much older man she doesn’t even know if it means that he’ll protect Dailan from the Ligui. She also decides to go after the thief who gets in the way of her marriage, and subsequently the safety of Dailan. Almost everything Anlei does in this book is done out of love for her family and village.
My new title might be Lady, but even after they scrub me clean, paint my face, and clothe me in silk, I’ll still be little more than a slave.
The thief Anlei meets, Tai, provides us with fun banter from the start. He is constantly cracking jokes and teasing Anlei, and Anlei always takes the bait. Even though we know from the start that Tai is hiding something, his character was still as fleshed-out as Anlei’s. The reveals about his character were excellently plotted, and though I wouldn’t say that they’re hard to guess, the way the author laid the clues out was impeccable, and there are tons of twists, so I’m sure at least one reveal will catch you off-guard.
Though I enjoyed these two as individuals, I definitely think that they should’ve stayed friends. The author was building their relationship in a very slow-burn manner, so when the declaration came, I found it abrupt and unnecessary. (I just want to see more platonic relationships at the forefront of a story instead of another romance, thank you.)
That being said, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon hits all the beats expected of a quest narrative perfectly. We have plenty of scenes involving Anlei fighting Ligui, along with aerial battles featuring mechanical dragons, flying airships, cyborgs and automatons. Anlei is also an acrobat, and it is amazing to read about her performances. Unfortunately, sometimes I wished that the story would pick up its pace, but I have no idea if this book was actually slow, or if I just wasn’t in the right mood to read it.
Overall, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a fun ride. I wouldn’t say that it’s anything ground-breaking, but not everything has to be. Sometimes we just want to turn off our brains and read about steampunk worlds and Chinese warrior girls. I enjoyed my time reading this book, and I encourage you to pick it up!
The Verdict: 🌟🌟🌟.5
Thank you so much to Fantastic Flying Book Club and the publisher for the e-arc I received via Netgalley.
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: June 11th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Synopsis: When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.
Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.
With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy.
About the Author
Mary Fan is a hopeless dreamer, whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books—a habit she began as soon as she could pick up a pencil.
Mary lives in New Jersey and has a B.A. from Princeton University. When she’s not scheming to create new worlds, she enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and blogging about everything having to do with books.