Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

Book - 2018
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Following a changeable map and clues from folktales, Princess Jade embarks on a quest to summon the Dragon Lords, defeat her evil stepmother Empress Xifeng, and bring peace to the kingdoms of Feng Lu.
Publisher: New York, NY : Philomel Books, [2018]
ISBN: 9781524738327
Branch Call Number: Fiction Dao TEEN
Characteristics: 356 pages ; 24 cm

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PimaLib_ChristineR Jan 12, 2019

If you're a big fan of retellings, you will likely enjoy this version of Snow White with an Eastern setting. Jade has been raised in a nunnery and would like nothing better than to stay there forever, so the summons to court from her stepmother, the Empress Xifeng, is unwelcome as well as fright... Read More »

When last we met Jade she was only the young daughter of the Emperor, sent away by her stepmother, Xifeng. As the empire rots from within it will be up to Jade to make a future for her country. Available in November 2018.

Rise of the Empress series book 2

Rise of the Empress series book 2


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PimaLib_ChristineR Jan 12, 2019

If you're a big fan of retellings, you will likely enjoy this version of Snow White with an Eastern setting. Jade has been raised in a nunnery and would like nothing better than to stay there forever, so the summons to court from her stepmother, the Empress Xifeng, is unwelcome as well as frightening. Jade discovers how Xifeng keeps her power and youth, and is finally determined that she will do anything to save her kingdom. Jade must escape Xifeng and Xifeng's huntsman while she searches for ancient artifacts that together will allow her to call on magical warriors to help her win her throne.

Jade is not an overly complex character, but I don't fault Dao for that, Jade is Snow White after all. More interesting is the kitchen drudge raised to Jade's handmaiden, Wren, who has to overcome her jealousy of Jade being raised by Wren's grandmother, and has no interest in traditionally feminine pursuits. Dao also makes a good choice in her characterization of Koichi. We know he is a little person, but she doesn't feel the need to hammer in her character inclusivity, and instead focuses on his faithfulness to his family and to Jade, his calm temperament and love for organization, allowing their love for each other to grow naturally and never treating him as comic relief.

I could have handled less time on gathering the artifacts (although at the end, we learn that each represents a characteristic of a strong leader), and more time with Jade and Xifeng plotting their moves against one another, and that's where this book suffers in comparison to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns: Xifeng was a complex character with choices that led her to the throne. This second story more closely follows the original Snow White story, and so our lead character is sugar sweet with nary a nasty thought for a fellow human. Since Dao created this strong backstory for Xifeng, I think she could have taken additional liberties with the story itself, and created a stronger dynamic between the two leads.

Finally, what's up with the title? It felt so random and didn't work with the story, even though there was a phoenix at one point. The guardian of their kingdom is the Dragon King. It felt like the publisher picked something that they thought sounded good without reading the book.

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