Hey y'all! Today is a double whammy of awesomeness!
I'm going to be talking about Cindy Pon's magical SILVER PHOENIX and its even more marvelous sequel, FURY OF THE PHOENIX, which I just finished. I discovered this series through a wonderful review Robin McKinley wrote on her blog (for the link, go to Cindy Pon's website, link at the end of this post). On the basis of that endorsement, I picked up SILVER PHOENIX, and I'm so glad I did!
on the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--ai ling discovers a power welling deep within her. she can reach into other people’s spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams…and that’s just the beginning.
ai ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor’s palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. she must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. and then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.
This is one of the most cinematic, beautifully written books I've read in a long time. Pon's descriptions of food in particular are mouth-watering...and also add to our understanding of Ai Ling, a wonderfully strong, independent girl...who happens to have an appetite and appreciation for good food (which I really loved about her, as I am ALSO a fan of yummy food! ;-)).
The story is a sweeping adventure in the same vein as some of my favorite fantasies, like On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, but it takes place in the Asian/China-inspired mythical Kingdom of Xia...and is all the more engaging for its vivid setting.
In addition to the lush writing, I particularly loved Ai Ling's character. She was aware of her duties and role in her world's society, but also independent, resourceful, and powerful. She was strong enough to make tough choices. And she was real, sometimes making mistakes. She had passions, fears, regrets...all explored through a complex, interesting story.
And Chen Yong isn't just a pretty face. He's just as interesting and complex a character, with his own quest and his own strengths and weakenesses. They have great chemistry, and watching their relationship develop while they dealt with the challenges of their journey as well as the strictures of their society, was both wonderful and bittersweet. Theirs is not a relationship with easy answers, and I loved that about it.
And let me just say, this is a book with one hell of a villian. SO. AWESOME. :-)
Today I finished the sequel, FURY OF THE PHOENIX, and while I don't want to say much about it, so as not to give anything away, I WILL say that I think I loved it even more than SILVER PHOENIX, if that's possible.
FURY OF THE PHOENIX is just as beautifully written as Pon's first novel, and the exciting story will keep you turning pages until well after you should have been asleep (take it from me!). I loved the way Pon delved deeper into the histories and mythologies of her characters, and how both books follow Ai Ling on a quest...while keeping those journeys different and fresh. I love books with adventure, romance, gorgeous scenery...and these books have all of those things in spades!
I highly recommend this series...and, for more info and a taste of the author's beautiful artwork, check out her website!
UPDATE: Wanted to share that Koko's tumor turned out to be Stage 1 and the vet got it all, so she has a clean bill of health! YAY!!! :-)
Check out what the other Bookanistas are raving about this week!
Christine Fonseca takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS
Carolina Valdez Miller falls for FRACTURE
Jen Hayley surrenders to THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED
Stasia Ward Kehoe is dazzled by DARK COMPANION
Nikki Katz wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Debra Driza is overwhelmed by UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Jessica Love gives a trophy to BEAUTY QUEENS
Shelli Johannes-Wells takes you on a tour of The Reading Room
Tracy Banghart has double-love for THE SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX
Hilary Wagner is in the grips of THE GATHERING STORM