Review – Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

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Title Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon

Author Mary Fan

Description from Amazon

Liang Anlei wants a life of glory and revenge

As a warrior who protects her village from shadow spirits, Anlei has never been beyond the borders of her town. All of that changes the day the viceroy and his fleet of mechanical dragons arrives. It’s the protection her village is desperate for, but it will only be given in exchange for Anlei’s hand in marriage. Torn between wanting to protect her village and her own freedom, Anlei is forced to make a sacrifice.

The day before her wedding, she encounters Tai, a young thief who is also trying to save his people. Tempted by his quest and the thrill of glory it promises, the two embark on an epic journey to the Courts of Hell to discover where the shadow spirits come from. But the secret of their existence isn’t so easily solved.

Amid dark experiments and battles on magic-fueled airships, Anlei must summon the courage to be the hero; to live the life she has always dreamed of.

Initial Thoughts

Please see my hype post for my full thoughts, but I was really eager to read this book.  It gave me all kinds of Steampunk Dante’s Inferno feels and I’m all about that.

Favorite Character

Anshui — she was the Shuri to her sister’s T’Challa and I loved that!  I want a spin-off of her and all of her fantastic inventions.  I thought she was somewhat underutilized but I see a lot of spin off potential in her character.

Some Things I Liked

  • The setting.  I thought the setting was incredibly imaginative and I really liked the Steampunk motif.
  • The nods to Dante’s Inferno.  Or, at least, what I thought of as nods to the classic poem.  Dante’s Inferno is one of my favorite books and I thought the journey to Hell and back reminded me of Dante’s adventure.
  • The mix of magic and science.  I like that both concepts were kept purposefully vague.  There was magic in the science and science in the magic and I thought it made the world that much richer and more whimsical.

Some Things I Wasn’t Crazy About

  • Once again, I find myself criticizing the obvious plot twists.  I saw them coming a mile away.  While they told the story progressed in the way that I wanted it to, I thought the characters were too oblivious to the facts at hand.
  • The progression.  When I was about 50% finished with the story, I was under the impression that the epic encounter with Mowang was the climax.  When I got to about 65%, I realized that this wasn’t the case.  I think the story arc was a bit of a roller coaster in an unexpected way.  I expected the story to wind down after the battle in Hell and it did but then it ramped right back up.  It felt like two stories smashed together at that point.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot.  There was one odd transition, noted above, but in general, I thought the book was well written, had a unique setting, and had characters that had great banter.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean — if you liked the Asian inspired setting, the mechanical devices, and the fierce female warrior lead, definitely check out Empress of All Seasons.
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton — if you liked the steampunk-y, gunslinging aspects of the setting, a mysterious male lead, and the plot of freeing people from a terrible ruler, try Rebel of the Sands.
  • Before the Broken Star by Emily R. King — if you liked the steampunk element and the idea of magic and science working together, give this series by Emily R. King a try.

2 thoughts on “Review – Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

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