What: Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
Who: Page Street Kids
When: June 11th 2019
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Page Street Kids for review via Edelweiss.
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.
It’s no small secret that I love steampunk. I’ll pretty much read any steampunk book I can get my hands on because there’s not a lot of them, and when I find one? EXCITEMENT. Which is what I was filled with when I found out about Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon. Steampunk is usually pretty white so I was excited for this diverse steampunk story! Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out quite how I expected it would.
My first qualm with Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon was that there was not enough steampunk, and the steampunk that was included wasn’t… very steampunk. Yes there were automata and copper things and flying ships but that’s just not enough for me when it comes to steampunk books. I need a bit more, and Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon definitely had the room for it because for a book with a title referencing the bronze dragons… they weren’t in the story very much at all.
Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is a journey book, meaning the main character, Anlei, leaves her home pretty close to the start of the novel and sets off on a journey to aid this random guy she just met in hopes that their end goals will align and she’ll get what she wants. I’m usually a fan of journey books because they can showcase a lot of character development and/or relationship development. Unfortunately Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon relied on skipping the journeying and going straight to the next point of action. So it was more like a journey book of Big Events without the actual journey. There’d be passages to tell the reader that Anlei had travelled for x amount of time, and then she would arrive at the next Big Scene. I felt like the author may have wanted to jump to the exciting bits but the thing is the exciting bits aren’t exciting without the build up.
There was definitely a case of instalove in Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon. The book only covers a very short amount of time and I must admit I didn’t really believe the declarations of love at the end. I wanted more. Or less, actually. I would have been fine if the characters had just been like: hey, I really like you. That would have made more sense because even though they’d been through a lot they didn’t really know each other all that well. And I don’t think finding love is the be all and end all of a journey, either. I know some readers might have been annoyed if these characters hadn’t professed their love but I, for one, would have been happy with just an acknowledgement that they’re keen on each other and want to get to know each other better.
Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon certainly sets up the possibility for a sequel but if I’m being honest I’d probably give it a miss. There were times when I really had to push myself to finish this book, which I wouldn’t normally do, but because I had been so excited for it I felt like I owed the book a complete read. In the end I’m not entirely sure it was worth it.
© 2019, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning Murder of father, depictions of gore, use of ableist language, forced marriage, torture, physical assault, multiple murders, child neglect, reference to suicidal ideation, reference to death of mother
Murder of father, depictions of gore, use of ableist language, forced marriage, torture, physical assault, multiple murders, child neglect, reference to suicidal ideation, reference to death of mother