Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1), by Sue Lynn Tan (author), Natalie Naudus (narrator)

HarperAudio, ISBN 9780063031340, January 2022

This is a story based on the myth of the Chinese Moon Goddess, Chang'e. She stole the Celestial Emperor's elixir of immortality, and used it to save herself and her unborn daughter. Cheng'e was punished by being sentenced to spend her immortal life confined to the Moon. She kept secret the existence of of her daughter, Xingyin--until the girl's magic flares, and reveals her existence. She has to flee home and her mother, and survive on her own in the Celestial Kingdom. Xingyin vows to free her mother from her imprisonment, but first she has to learn to use her magic, and fight, and how to find a way into the upper levels of Celestial society and function there as if she belongs.

Her first real success is winning the position of study companion to Crown Prince Liwei. studying magic, classics, herbalism, and military arts with him. She makes friends, allies, lovers, and enemies, with, it must be said, some overlap among those groups. She loves Liwei, but he's bound by his duty. Captain Wenzhi is equally attractive, not as gentle, fiercer, both a companion and a teacher in war and in missions against dangerous, monstrous creatures. A woman, another fellow soldier, is a good friend whom she can partially confide in. There's a general who sees her as a very promising soldier, and to some extent looks out for her.

There are characters, such as the last two mentioned, whose names I don't have because I listened to the audiobook, and I haven't found them elsewhere. It's frustrating; I think I care more about the names of secondary characters than many others.

Along the way, she encounters challenges, danger, treachery, good and evil magic. Seeming enemies prove to be friends; seeming friends prove to be enemies. Her adventures span the Celestial Empire, the Mortal Realm, and the Demon Realm. Sometimes I want to give Xingyin a good hard shake for her blind spots, yet I think they're entirely attributable to her upbringing on the Moon, with only her mother and her mother's trusted servant and friend for companions. There's just a great deal she really doesn't know, and has to learn from scratch, about normal human interaction. She's also a bit mission-driven; her goal is to get to the point where she can free her mother, or persuade the Celestial Emperor to pardon her.

The language is beautiful; the world is richly developed. Sometimes the characters have less depth than I would like, but in the end, all the major actors have real reasons for what they do, even if that doesn't make the bad guys any more likable.

Also worth noting that there's no shortage of strong women characters who play real, meaningful roles.


I bought this audiobook.

No comments:

Post a Comment