Mulan is probably one of my favorite stories and retellings to read. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is because she gives up her identity in order to save those she loves. No matter how the story is spun, this is the typical plot. But then add dragons in? Heck yeah, I am sold. I thought this world was fantastically put together and really inspired by its roots. The inspiration is easy to see but it's also unique in its own way. The pacing started out a little slow for me. It definitely took me longer to read this book than Lynn's previous titles but I enjoyed it just as much. There really isn't a ton of action in this book as the majority takes place in the training camp. However, the ending is full of action and blood.
I enjoyed the characters for the most part. Hua was a good main character and wanted to prove herself and fight for Luna. What was nice about her character was she wasn't naive on how to fight because her father had trained her. This definitely made it more believable on how she was able to learn so fast. I also liked that she wasn't ridiculously strong and could take on these men that were bigger than her. Hua was smart and used her disadvantages to her advantage. This makes the fighting more believable. The only issues I had with her is how standoffish and disrespectful she was. I know she explained that she wasn't trying to be intimidated by the Jian but it just came off as disrespectful and a little hard to believe she got away with it. I also don't like how she considered Chen and Yan her friends but she was never really nice to them? Other than that I really did like her character. Jian was amazing as well. His disbelief in himself was disheartening but it was true to his character. I do wish he would have listened to others and realized that his brother, the emperor, wouldn't have put the whole country in his charge if he didn't believe in him. Regardless, I'm definitely anticipating the next book and how this story will conclude.
Overall, Dragon Rising by M. Lynn was an amazing Mulan retelling. The inspiration was definitely easy to see but the story was still unique to itself. I really enjoyed the whole book and the addition of dragons! It took me a bit to get into but once I was finally absorbed, it was hard to put down. I generally enjoyed Hua and Jian. Hua was a strong and determined character who wanted to serve her country and fight for her family. Jian just wanted to make everyone proud and get his revenge. Even though each had a little annoying qualities about them, it did not damper my experience. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy retellings, especially Mulan, and fantasy war books.
Going into this book, I didn’t know what to expect, other than a hella good fantasy story, like all of Michele’s stories.
When I started reading, I thought this would be a classic “ordinary farm girls wants revenge”-story, but it turned out to be so much more.
The details with which Michele wrote this story and built the world, made for an outstanding image in my mind. I felt like I was right there with Hua in those fields, at those training grounds and in that little border town. Despite all the world building and detail, the writing style was easy to read and understand and most of all, the story was fast paced, gripping and intriguing. It made me want to continue reading, hence why I read this book in only two sittings spread over two days.
Hua is one of those characters that could be a hit or miss. Her story started out like a classic fantasy story surrounding a badass female lead. These kind of stories could really go two ways; either they follow the much travelled road and turn into a cliché or they go their own way and end up surprising the reading in ways unexpected. For me, Hua’s story definitely followed the latter. Yes, of course there were some cliché bits and the heavily hinted revelation of what Hua really is, didn’t come as a surprise, but the impulsiveness of Hua’s character shown through in the story and it was an honest delight imagining what Hua would do next and finding that I imagined wrong.
The tension in the air surrounding Hua’s secrets could be felt throughout the whole book, the respect of her comrades for her was beautifully written and Hua’s relationships with both Luca and Jian were done nicely.
What I’m most thankful for is that romance wasn’t the main plot of this book. I’m grateful that Hua didn’t fall for the first strong man she saw, which is something you often do see in books like these and even though I’m a sucker for romance, in this story it wouldn’t have fitted, and so I’m glad it wasn’t there.
I loved this book with all my heart and I truly cannot wait to read the sequel!
What an adventure! Dragon Rising by M. Lynn is the first in her new series The Hidden Warrior inspired by Mulan. I love retellings! Several years ago when I first started reading retellings, I was skeptical, but that was unfounded. I love how an author can take an original, well-known tale and put their own spin on it. And M. Lynn does just that with Dragon Rising.
Hua Minglan is a force to be reckoned with. When her sister is killed during a Kou attack on the capital city, dying right in front of her, Hua’s need for revenge consumes her thoughts. With the help of her Nainai (grandmother), Hua leaves for war, pretending to be the older son Gen Minglan never had. But she has a secret, one she must guard with her life and it isn’t that she’s a woman. Hua Minglan is dragon-blooded.
Commander Jian Li is the brother of the emperor and has suffered great loss. Like Hua, he is out for revenge against General Athan, the Kou leader, who killed the woman he loved years earlier, but it clouds his judgment leading to the slaughter of his men in a surprise attack. I love Jian. He is a lost soul, truly. He knows his place, serving as commander of his brother’s army, but he doesn’t want it. Jian is young and never wanted the responsibility or burden of leading. He only wants to serve his brother well and revenge his lost love. Now this revenge has led to many deaths that weigh heavy on his shoulders. As a result, he takes on the responsibility of training the new recruits that are arriving daily.
The plot of this story revolves around Hua and her training under Jian. While there is a lot of action and excitement, twists and turns throughout the book, Dragon Rising is character-driven. With chapters alternating POV between Hua and Jian, I found myself captivated. I loved seeing Hua through Jian’s eyes. Jian sees her as a young man, too young to be in the army, but also his best fighter. Hua sees through Jian to the loneliness he hides behind the stern Commander facade.
Overall I really enjoyed Dragon Rising. I loved the author’s spin on the classic tale of Mulan, and I cannot wait to learn more about the dragon-blooded. While the story focuses on Jian and Hua, I absolutely adore Luca, a side-character that is Jian’s best friend and Hua’s betrothed. Luca brings levity to the story, hiding Hua’s secret and feeling guilty for keeping it from Jian. Common ground for Hua and Jian is that they both care for Luca, which shows throughout the story. If you enjoy YA fantasy retellings, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Dragon Rising. It will not disappoint!
Hua Minglan will sacrifice everything to avenge the death of her sister, and when war threatens her city and her father is called to fight, she makes the brave choice to take his place.
What I loved:
The characters. I loved Hua’s strength and unwavering love for her family. The commander who is fighting his own demons while trying to train warriors. And Luca who is understanding of Hua’s desire to keep her secrets.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and recommend anyone who loved the story of Mulan read this new spin on the original tale.
When her sister Luna is killed, Hua wants nothing more than to get revenge. Taking her father's place, she joins the army to fight against the Kou and kill the general who took her sister from her. Here, she must hide her identity as a female and become Huan. There's also a legend about dragons in Piao and Hua descends from their bloodline. The previous emperor wanted everyone who descended from dragons killed, so Hua isn't even supposed to exist.
In the training grounds, Hua meets Commander Jian who is an intimidating person to just about everyone, but not Hua. She won't let anyone get to her and won't back down from a challenge, so she isn't scared to meet Jian's eyes. But there are rumors going around about Jian. They say he led his men to their deaths and doesn't care about anyone. Hua isn't so sure she believes them because she sees a different side of him. He helps train her to be the best warrior she can be and is a fierce ally to have on the battlefield.
Reading DRAGON RISING is a great way to start off 2020! It's a retelling of Mulan with a twist of fantasy and dragons. I love how strong both Jian and Hua are in their own unique ways. Hua is headstrong and won't let anyone treat her differently just because she's a girl. Jian has had his heart broken and has scares from the battles of the present and the betrayals of his past. The two of them will have to rely on each other when push comes to shove.
Final Verdict: DRAGON RISING is a a fierce fantasy about a girl stepping out of her comfort zone to make a difference in the war and get her revenge. This is one fans of fantasy, Mulan, romance, action, adventure, and dragons won't want to miss!