Title: Stronger than A Bronze Dragon
Author: Mary Fan
Publisher: One Page Street Publishing
Publishing Date: September 4th 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi
When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.
Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.
With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy
There are spoilers in this review but are HIDDEN. If you see a “~~~” highlight the texts after it and the spoilers will show.
**Thank you so much Raf @ The Royal Polar Bear Reads and Page Street Publishing for letting me participate on this blog tour and for the eARC. These, by any means, did not affect nor influence my review.**
T/CW: deaths, torture, depiction of hell and demons tormenting sinners, violence
I joined this blog tour only knowing that this is written by an Asian author and is Chinese-inspired. As you may know, I like diving into books with little information as possible and making myself surprised. Indeed, I was surprised, but I was amazed as well by Stronger than a Bronze Dragon. However, surprising and amazing it may be, I wasn’t able to fully, deeply love this book. My reading experience went from up, to down, to back up again. Stronger than a Bronze Dragon went from promising, to boring, to intense and exciting.
Science, Magic, Revenge, Adventure and a Strong,
Complex Main Character with a Heart for Her People
Stronger than a Bronze Dragon immediately drawn me into its story with its easy-to-read writing and an action scene. Then came the mechanical dragons, cyborgs, automatons, spirits, demons, ghosts talking to people, magic, a remote village and a magical pearl and my heart just got more excited. A female fighter revenging for his father and protecting their village as a main character sealed it all together. It was a cool concept, I was just amazed immediately and held on tight to a promise of a great adventure.
Anlei, the main character, she is a strong, highly skilled, female fighter with a heart for her people – which was a strong reason enough for me to love her immediately. She knows her goals, disciplined, and just deeply cares and loves her family. What I love most was her reluctance to submit to the misogynistic traditions in their society. Yet, she also knows her priorities and chose to sacrifice. I hate that she had to. But the fact that she did, makes me admire her resilience and bravery and deep love for her village even more.
But there’s still more to her than that. She loves her people and willing to sacrifice for them BUT at the same time, she’s willing to risk her village to fulfill her dreams of becoming like the Warrioress and slaying evil. She’s also sympathetic and chose to help another person to save his people. She’s a complex one like that.
I also liked Tai. He’s charming, good-natured and though he was a thief, had to lie, and sometimes cocky, he has just the same good heart like Anlei. He wants to protect his people as well and just as committed and passionate about it as her. They have similarities but at the same time, their personalities contrasts. I also liked their chemistry, loved their interactions, and enjoyed all those banters.
I also really liked Anshui, Anlei’s sister. She has an amazing talent. I admire her intelligence when it comes to inventing, as well as how thoughtful sister she is and I really always looked forward in her appearances in this book..
Insta-Crush, Just Boring, Lack of World-Building, I Need Answers
The downside for me, occurred mostly right at the middle of this book.
- Somewhere around 45% to 65% into the book, the sort of “climax” for their first adventure started when they finally got into Mowang’s place. I was shocked because I was so looking forward to that yet I was so bored that I even almost fell asleep. It was only the mysteriousness and cockiness of Tai that kept me entertained at this point.
- And then I started to dislike Anlei. Her superhero complex, turned into something different for me. Loving her people to the point of protecting and sacrificing for them is one thing, wanting so badly to be the heroine of others’ story and even think of stealing other people’s quest of heroism for her to be known as the heroine of the story is another. At some point she became really hungry for glory and for people to sing her name as the hero. Her pride also went too high up.
- The insta-crush is… errr. I found that “confession” scene awkward (understandable), unbelievable and seems like just popped out of nowhere. I like that this wasn’t romance heavy but, I would seriously be glad to trade the insta-crush with a slow burn romance. I mean, they’re literally strangers, but embarked on an adventure with the goal of saving both of their people, the chemistry was there, and I can just imagine how good it would be. Yes, they said the words “I love you” at the end BUT STILL, it did’t feel like a slow burn. I didn’t even feel anything burning, tbh. But nah, the romance had to suddenly exist ~~~when Tai confessed and then vanished because they got their own businesses to deal with and then reappeared at the end. ~~~ Don’t get me wrong. ’m deeply happy that they still ended up together.
- I found the world-building lacking. At first, I was really in awe of the world being introduced but as the time goes by, it just like… vanished. (If that makes sense to you) I literally went, “where’s the world-building???” along the way.
- Viceroys mysteriousness was there from the very beginning but I felt like it also flopped in the long run. It was like he’s only there for the sake of the plot twists. I didn’t truly know him except that he’s the crazy, power-hungry and dangerous villain. And then the answers to~~~ what are his true intentions are, how did he end up with that strong power and magic, and that freaking armada, and what was the arrangements between him and Mowang are still mysteries to me.
Intense, Insane, Beautiful… Book Redeemed
About around 75% of the book, I felt like it regained its momentum. Everything leading up to the very end was either intense, insane, beautiful, or at least two, or all at once. I loved all the elaborated action scenes. And I was really really satisfied by its ending.
My irritation towards Anlei I felt at the middle vanished. Her determination, strong heart and fighting skills made me remember why I admired her from the very beginning, and she gained the glory, as well as the happiness – and the safety and recovery of her village – she truly truly deserves and hard-earned. She literally went from being a Dailan Guard, to a bride for a bargain, to an adventurer out to help a stranger save his people, to a Warrioress who saved her own people and others, to a daughter who finally avenged her father, and to a woman who found love and is looking forward for more adventures of her life.
And the twists, among the many of them throughout the story, there are only 2 that I was not able to predict. ~~~ Like come on, how could i just guess that Kang is Tai’s father????? Also, Kang caging all those Yueshens??? Laguis trapped in automatons?? And him killing his wife and keeping her body like that??? I mean, if you predicted that, please tell me how! These 2 are major twists so I like that there were still major surprises for me.
Though I think it failed to deliver at some point, I still really enjoyed Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon. Stronger than a Bronze Dragon is about a strong, badass female fighter and her quest to glory and being the woman she wants to be, loving, protecting, sacrificing and saving your people, avenging a father, science and magic, oppression and power-greediness. It also has those intense action scenes that might keep you at the edge of your seat.
WILL RECOMMEND TO
…those who wants fantasy that doesn’t heavily focus on romance, focus on saving people, has a strong female fighter main character, talks about power greediness, has adventures, dragons, spirits, evils, and a story of revenge.
Mary Fan is a hopeless dreamer, whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books—a habit she began as soon as she could pick up a pencil.
Mary lives in New Jersey and has a B.A. from Princeton University. When she’s not scheming to create new worlds, she enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and blogging about everything having to do with books.
Have you read Stronger than a Bronze Dragon? How was it? What are your favorite books with Chinese influences? Share your thoughts below!