Zhilan was assigned female at birth; despite an unusual gift for illusions, they know they will live out their life in the perfumed confines of the women’s quarters. But when civil war sets the country aflame, Zhilan is the only one who can save their disabled Father from death on the battlefield.
By taking his place.
Surviving brutal army training as a male recruit – Zhi – is only the first challenge. Soon Zhi’s unique talents draw them into an even more perilous fight, in the glittering court of the Land of Dragons, where love and betrayal are two sides of the same smile. The fate of an Empire rests on Zhi’s shoulders. But to win, they must first decide where their loyalty, and their heart, truly belongs.
I’m a little disappointed in this book – bits were really enjoyable but some of it was just a let down. I’m staying out of the cultural debate on the book and taking it just as a story at the moment.
The things I liked were the concept of barrier breaking magic, and the Mulan inspiration. And I mostly liked Zhi’s realisations about their gender. However I wanted them to be a little more obvious. Like not wanting to show their “true”’face to someone she doesn’t like isn’t the same as feeling generally uncomfortable with it, so I want them to have a little more thought on why they were uncomfy with it. But I do love that their gender identity wasn’t simple and the book didn’t flinch from that.
However I guessed some of the reveals (most of them) as they weren’t well disguised. And the ending felt like a massive let down. The general in particular made me want to punch him on the regular, but there’s a scene about 60 pages from the end that is particularly punchy.
Sorry if this is confusing, as I’m trying to not spoil the story, but a lot of the worst parts are at the end.
In short, the story isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not the best out there, and there are probably better stories around the mulan legend.
Buy The Hand, the Eye and the Heart from Amazon UK.