Friday, March 13, 2009

Wild Orchid (Once Upon a Time Series)

by Cameron Dokey

Summary: Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight. Tomboyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.
But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?

My review: Mulan is painfully aware of loss of her mother who died when she was born. Her father, a famous war hero, forbid anyone to speak her mother’s name and cannot bear to return home and see the child responsible for her death. Mulan grows up surrounded by the servants who care for her and Li Po, her neighbor and best friend, who teaches her the art of archery, sword fighting, and how to read and write. When, at last, her father returns from battling the Huns, Mulan falls out of a tree and lands right in front of his horse—not exactly making the best first impression. Both father and daughter struggle to become acquainted for the first time in their lives. Eventually, to spare her father’s life, Mulan takes his place on the battlefield in an elite company of archers led by the emperors youngest son, Prince Jian, where she finally comes to realize the true desire of her heart.

I really enjoyed reading Cameron Dokey’s version of Mulan. Her retelling provided a historical richness similar to the original Battle of Mulan and gave an infinitely more touching back story than the Disney movie provides. There was an awkwardness between Mulan and her father as they tried to get to know each other, but the tender moments when they finally connect are well worth the wait. The addition of secondary characters—Li Po, General Yuwen, and Zao Xing—only added to the depth of the story. I had to lock myself in the bedroom so I could finish it (don't worry, Curt was up). As always, I felt the book was over a little bit too quickly but it was great while it lasted.

My rating: 4 stars. A nice addition to my library.

If I could sum this book up in one phrase it would be: Dokey doesn't disappoint.

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