Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

Daughter of Xanadu
by Dori Jones Yang

I have to say, perhaps somewhat shamedly, that before this book I gave very little thought to the Mongolian empire in the times of the Great Khan Khubilai (Kublai Khan).

Beyond seeing them as the frightening, cruel people on Disney's Mulan... I really had very little to go on. My education was sorely lacking, having never discussed them in school, other than the passing comments that Kublai Khan was a powerful leader.

This book not only piqued my interest in Mongolian history, but it also, very skillfully, presented a culture who did, in fact, have some frightening war tactics... from the point of view of someone who saw those tactics as honorable and courageous... to the point where you too, as the reader, could understand that viewpoint and how one could be raised to see certain actions in such a glorious light.

This was the case of the main character, Emmajin Beki (or, Princess Emmajin), granddaughter of the Great Khan Khubilai. She wished to be a warrior and reveled in the stories told around the fire of great military wins for her people.

Then everything is thrown into new, confusing light with the arrival of a young Latin, Marco Polo. He looks on Mongolian practices at war as distasteful for the most part, and Emmajin is suddenly confronted with having to look at the military conquests of her people in a different light.

This book was fantastic. Emmajin was a wonderful, strong female character, worthy of any young girl's admiration. She dealt with the issues of obedience, love, loss, adventure, questioning her own beliefs and standing up for what she believed in, with grace and tact.

Not only that, but it provided historical terms and descriptions of traditions, buildings, outfits and other aspects of daily Mongolian life from the 1200s that I had never heard of before.

This story was both entertaining and informational, something that would keep teen readers deeply interested while introducing them to a world that, perhaps like myself, they never knew.

If there is ever a sequel, I would love to read it!

Book Cover: 5/5
Book Title: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Ending: 5/5


  1. Yay! So glad you enjoyed it. :) I'm number 8 (though will probably be pushed back to #10 since I'm Australian) for the blog tour. I can't wait to read and review it, too!

    You didn't mention the romance...there was romance, right? Haha. But yeah, this sounds like a great one.

  2. You know, there was romance, and while the main character obsessed about it quite a bit, for me, the strongest point of the story was the main character's own internal struggle... which the love story was partially a catalyst for.... but in the end, I feel like the main character would have ended up in the same place... just without the specific direction for her future that the love story gave her.

  3. I was 2nd on the tour and really liked this book as well!