Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Silver Phoenix (Kingdom of Xia #1) by Cindy Pon

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.

I like strong heroines and wuxia, so I was really excited to read this book.

Silver Phoenix tells the story of Ai Ling, a girl in search of her missing father. As she travels to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams, Ai Ling is hunted by various paranormal creatures who want her dead.

There were moments that I felt like Ai Ling was channeling Mulan, but instead of a guardian dragon and cricket, Ai Ling has supernatural powers. I thought her ability was pretty cool. It's not the most original, but the way it was described and how it was tweaked just a little bit from the usual mind-reading thing makes it a less boring ability.

I like the use of mythology but there were too many monsters that attacked that it felt like they were just thrown in there. If it had taken maybe a little bit longer for the monsters to be defeated, it might have been more interesting.

As for the love story, I think Chen Yong is interesting, but something was missing in Ai Ling and Chen Yong's interactions. In Tagalog, we call it the kilig factor. :P I guess if I were to translate it, the closest approximation is chemistry. Perhaps it gets better in the sequel, so I definitely look forward to that.

  1. Good use of mythology.
  2. Descriptive and interesting wuxia scenes.
  3. It has potential.
  1. The romance isn't completely there.
“A plate of the roast duck, steamed dumplings, spicy noodles with beef gravy, pickled cucumbers, stewed tongue and eggs if you have them, cold please, and sticky rice pearls, too,” Ai Ling said, before the server girl could open her mouth. “I don’t know what he wants.” Ai Ling nodded toward Chen Yong.
“I’m not sure I have enough coins to order anything more,” he said, laughing.
  1. You like wuxia books.
  2. You like mythology-based books.
  3. You like Mulan.



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