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If you're hungry for more books like these, then these five are sure to satisfy.
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Mythology remains one of the greatest sources of inspiration for fantasy literature, and literature in general, today. For me, stories that draw from mythologies that I am not overly familiar with encourage me to then seek out the tales and legends that inspired those books. That’s how I began to read Chinese mythology. There is a genuine beauty to the myths, and I truly can’t even begin to express how amazing some of these stories are.
Here are five books inspired by Chinese mythology.
1. “The Poppy War“
image via amazon
R.F. Kuang’s first installation in her Poppy War series introduces Rin, a young orphan who managed to pass the Keju, a test that allows her to enter one of several academies for prodigal children. From there, she manages to enter Sinegard, a military school. However, because of her skin color, her gender, and her impoverished background, Rin is the target of her peers’ cruelty. The Poppy War follows Rin as she learns that she can harness the powers of shamanism, and with the help of one of her teachers, she learns that the deities that had fallen into legend do still exist. She is chosen by the Phoenix, a vengeful deity that may sap her of her humanity. With the third Poppy War on the horizon, the cost of winning that conflict may, indeed, be her humanity.
2. “The Dragon Warrior“
image via goodreads
The Dragon Warrior, written by Katie Zhao, follows Faryn Liu, a twelve-year old girl who wishes to honor her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. However, since their father disappeared, Faryn and her brother have been brushed off by the Jade Society, which has made Faryn’s dream a near impossible feat. Yet when she is caught in the middle of a conflict, it is revealed that Faryn is the Heaven Breaker, a being who can command an army of powerful dragons. She has until the Lunar New Year to prove her worth, but she will soon learn that the position she has found herself in requires a great deal more sacrifice than she had originally expected. This book is middle-grade fantasy, so it is meant to appeal to a younger audience; however, that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out if you’re interested!
3. “The Crystal Ribbon“
image via amazon
Celeste Lim’s novel takes place in medieval China. The Crystal Ribbon follows Li Jing, the twelve-year old daughter of a poor tea farmer based in Huanan. Her family decides that, in order to survive, Li Jing must be married off. The money that her husband’s family gives her parents will help them live. The Koh family, one that Li Jing marries into, treats her poorly. She is expected to be the wife and nanny to her husband, Ju’nan, who is only three years old. When she is sold off once again, Li Jing runs away. With the aid of a spider and a nightingale, she makes her way back to Huanan. Be warned that this story does deal with themes of parental abuse and sexual violence.
4. “tiger’s apprentice“
image via amazon
Laurence Yep‘s middle-grade fantasy The Tiger’s Apprentice follows young Tom Lee–a young boy who learns that he is the most recent addition to an ancestral line of guardians. His grandmother, a woman who has always been perceived as eccentric, has been the guardian of a phoenix egg for several years now. When she is killed protecting Tom, Tom must step in to become the egg’s protector. Tom gains a father figure in Mr. Hu, a talking tiger who can turn himself into a man. Other mythical beings from the Chinese zodiac, such as the monkey and the dragon, are also present in this story. This is a fast-paced and quick read, and it is definitely worth checking out!
5. “silver phoenix“
image via amazon
Cindy Pon‘s Silver Phoenix is the first book in her ‘Kingdom of Xia’ series. This book follows Ai Ling, a woman who has not been viewed as marriageable, and she was content with this, because that meant she could not be hidden away in the quarters of a potential husband’s household. She slowly becomes more and more aware of her own inner powers–she has the ability to read people’s spirits. Chosen by immortal beings, she must enter the emperor’s palace to save her father and defeat the old evil that lies within. There are mystical creatures and goddesses packed into this tale, and it is definitely worth checking out! This books does contain themes of sexual harassment and an attempted assault scene, so please be aware of this if you give this book a read.
Featured image via Wallpaper Flare
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