Review – The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Title The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan

Author Sherry Thomas

Release Date September 10, 2019

Description from Amazon

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man. 

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling—the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Initial Thoughts

As I said in my hype post, Mulan is one of my favorite Disney stories. I was super excited to find out about this book and I couldn’t wait to read it.

Some Things I Liked

  • Chinese history. I loved that this story incorporated more Chinese history than the original story.
  • Mulan’s family. I loved that her family knew her plan to join the army. I think it made the story feel more complete. Since Mulan in this story had been pretending to be a man for years, her backstory was much more authentic and believable than the original story.
  • The rivalry between the Hua and Peng families. Again, I thought that added element gave the story a richness.

One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About

  • As is often the case with Disney retellings, I found the romance to be a little lackluster in this story. I loved the idea of it but I felt like it was not fully explored. The ending gives some finality, but I thought it was just a neat way to tie up the storyline and it felt a bit rushed.

Favorite Quote

“I stand with my mouth half-open in what I hope is a credible performance of bumpkin-ish naïveté.”

Page 185

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. I think it’s a solid Mulan retelling perfect for any fan of the original. It adds more history and a richer backstory which I liked. I thought the romance between Mulan and the princeling was missing some things but overall, the story was good.


Other Mulan Retellings

Recommendations for Further Reading

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