In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
I really enjoyed this book, I wasn’t 100% sure of what was going to happen but it was a really great book.
We follow Zhu Chongba as she takes on her brother’s name, with his name his fate was told to be ‘greatness’ so Zhu does whatever it takes to live up to that fate.
I found it really interesting to watch Zhu grow up first in her impoverished family home and then in a monastery that she forces herself to walk to and wait for four days outside of. At the monastery, she must hide her gender from the monks so that she can stay and be fed. When the monastery is burnt down she walks away to find and fulfill the fate that she has taken for herself. She finds herself a commander of the Red Turban army where her secrets must be kept more seriously than ever.
What I really enjoyed was as she grew in command her I could see her character changing. As she got more power she wanted more power.
We also hear from Ouyang who is a commander of the Mongolian army and also best friends with the oldest Prince, Esen. Ouyang started off his life as a slave for the royal family but as time progressed and his bond with the prince grew he grew in command, however, people don’t like him or trust him because when he became a slave, he also became a eunuch.
What I liked about Ouyang was that despite what everyone said about him he still became a very well respected commander and did what no one thought he would be able to do. He does, however, have a darker side and the further we get into the book the more we see of it and why it is there.
The only downside I had for this book was the paragraph jumps to other character’s points of view, I found them very sudden and a little hard to follow.
Overall I thought this was a great book and can’t wait to see what comes next.