Before reading this I was a big fan of Mary Fan, but after finishing Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon she is now my favourite author. This incredible adventure was full of action, had so many layers to the story & had brilliant characters. I have no idea how I’m going to write this review…
I was sent this book by the author in return for an honest review. I was also invited to take part in the blog tour.
⚠️ Forced marriage & violence ⚠️
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.
Well, where do I start? I genuinely have no idea where to start with this review – this story blew me away & I want to read it all over again. Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon is action packed, fast moving & has so many layers to the story that I wouldn’t even know how to explain them. I adored the world building, loved the characters & the plot took me on a journey. In 2017 Starswept by Mary was my favourite book – in 2019 it’s Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon by the same author.
Something I have to mention is the fact that Anlei, our protagonist, appears to be dyslexic – throughout the book we see her struggle to read; with the Chinese characters moving around the page, Anlei has to spend a long time studying text before she understands what it’s about. As someone who is dyslexic, reading about a character with dyslexia was such an amazing experience – it’s the first time I’ve read a book that features it, & I love that, even though she struggles to read, Anlei is still strong & intelligent. It’s such a good message & I’m really grateful to Mary for including it in her story, even though she could have just had Anlei unable to read like the rest of her village.
Even without her dyslexia I would have loved & admired Anlei – she was super strong, independent, totally not perfect & was a hilarious smart-ass. I loved her attitude, her determination to protect the people she loves, as well as her determination to try & fulfil some of her own dreams. Anlei’s character development was smooth & steady, & by the end of the book she was still the same Anlei from the start of the book – just a little bit mature & a little bit less impulsive. Our other main character is called Tai – I won’t tell you much about him as I don’t want to spoil the book, but he & his secrets kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time he was featured in the story, & I love how many layers there were to his existence. At times I hated Tai, but his character was interesting & was generally just a great book character.
The world-building in Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon was fantastic – I was swept up in it’s magic & mystery almost instantly & the descriptions were so vivid that I dreamt about it after putting the book down for the night. I found the combination of magic & machinery really interesting & there was definitely a steampunk vibe coming off of the pages, even though the clockwork was replaced by magic (& as someone who loves steampunk this was a massive bonus). The world was so similar to real-life China that it was really easy to forget that the world was fiction & being a part of Anlei’s world was a wonderful escape from my own.
I really did love this book; I stayed up until 2am to finish it & the last half of the book was incredibly addictive. Part of me was hoping that the book would end in a way that suggests a sequel, but unfortunately it didn’t… nevertheless, Stronger Than Bronze Dragon has gone down on my list of favourite ever books & I can’t wait to read more of Mary’s work.
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.
You can find her website here.
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