Sometimes a battle isn't waged on a bloody field. Sometimes it's won within the heart of one girl. Hua Minglan wants revenge for the death of her sister, and she'll do anything to get it. A war is brewing between Piao and the Kou warriors to the north, a war that has called every able-bodied man in Piao from their fields. When Hua's father is summoned to fight, she knows he won't return, most of the warriors don't. With a decision that could cost her everything, she leaves her home behind in an attempt to take her father's place training under Commander Jian Li, brother to the emperor. The commander is a harsh man, a demanding man, and one with his own desire for vengeance. Hua can't get too close. She can't befriend the man who is able to bring her deceptions tumbling to the ground. If he learns the truth about who she is, it won't only see her shunned from the army for disguising herself as a man. It will end in her execution. Hua never imagines that by joining the army, she brings a greater foe into the heart of Piao. What if the Kou are only a distraction? What if the real enemy is her? Dive into this full-length Mulan inspired fantasy. Beware of dragons, sword-wielding girls, and a slow-burn, heartbreaking romance.
Dragon Rising: A Mulan Inspired FantasyFeatured
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!
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.
Great world building
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!