After her perilous quest to free her mother, Xingyin thrives once more in the tranquility of her home. But her fragile peace is threatened by the discovery of a strange magic on the moon and the unsettling changes in the Celestial Kingdom as the emperor tightens his grip on power. While Xingyin is determined to keep clear of the rising danger, the discovery of a shocking truth spurs her into a treacherous confrontation.
Forced to flee her home once more, Xingyin and her companions venture to unexplored lands of the Immortal Realm, encountering legendary creatures and shrewd monarchs, beloved friends and bitter adversaries. With alliances shifting quicker than the tides, Xingyin has to overcome past grudges and enmities to forge a new path forward, seeking aid where she never imagined she would. As an unspeakable terror sweeps across the realm, Xingyin must uncover the truth of her heart and claw her way through devastation--to rise against this evil before it destroys everything she holds dear, and the worlds she has grown to love... even if doing so demands the greatest price of all.
The stunning sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess delves deeper into beloved Chinese mythology, concluding the epic story of Xingyin--the daughter of Chang'e and the mortal archer, Houyi--as she battles a grave new threat to the realm, in this powerful tale of love, sacrifice, and hope.
Sue Lynn Tan is the author of Daughter of the Moon Goddess and Heart of the Sun Warrior, a romantic fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess. Her books will be translated into sixteen languages, and are USA Today and Sunday Times bestsellers.
Born in Malaysia, Sue Lynn studied in London and France, before moving to Hong Kong with her family. Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, her first compilation of fairytales from around the world. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books, spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds.
After finishing the first book of the series, I was thinking how the sequel will exceed its perfection. Let’s not forget there was no cliffhanger at the end if you don’t count the unresolved love triangle.
But second book of the duology exceeded my expectations and it’s even better than the first book. There are so many epic moments including surprising family reunions, dragons’ cameo, bloodthirsty fight against the phoenix and eerie, frightening war against the army of death.
The love triangle between Xingyin-Liwei- Wenzhi is more powerful and reasonable. At the first book, things heated a little instantly and we couldn’t feel true intimacy between characters. But thankfully the author solved this problem at second round. Wenzhi is so adamant to make his wrongdoings right by giving his full protection and working as devoted ally. Liwei already confronts with his parents to choose Xingyin over them.
After the ending of first novel, I thought everything would be peaceful in Xingyin’s life after she ended her mother’s imprisonment and returned back to moon. But uninvited mortals’ unexpected visit to their home suddenly changes everything as the power balance changes to General Wu’s benefit in Celestial Kingdom.
The danger escalates out of nowhere. Xingyin’s house gets invaded, her loved ones’ life in danger. Once again her mother and she are sentenced to prison unfairly. Only way to save their lives is escape and accept to be ally with a powerful warrior who betrayed Xingyin’s trust!
The Immortal Realm is in grave peril, for the Celestial throne has been usurped. A terrible evil threatens the realms above and below!
Xingyin needs to stop this evil raising in expanse of sacrificing her life as Liwei and Wenzhi fight beside her!
The fight between the evil incarnation and Xingyin was absolutely epic and memorable.
The world building, action packed fight chapters were well depicted! I cried at last parts! Xingyin was confused about her feelings as her heart tear in half till the last heart wrenching moment!
I loved the ending a lot, dabbing my eyes, giggling softly. Mythology, folklore, fantasy and romance couldn’t be combined so much better!
I’m a big fan of this duology and daughter of Moon Goddess and Sun Warrior!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for sharing me this amazing arc with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
If you’re interested in reading my extended book reviews, movie critiques, and hilarious astrology articles, be sure to check out my Medium account using the link below:
an equally enticing sequel and magically satisfying conclusion to a wonderful duology.
while not quite as action-packed as the first book, there are still moments of adventure as xingyins newly found freedom is threatened. from a brief period of peace, to new enemies and plots, and recovering from past betrayal, all while trying to fight for a future, there is no denying that this story doesnt move.
and although the world of the celestial kingdom is still explored, much of the narrative is focused on the characters and their relationships to one another. their development is amazing. working together, forgiving each other, and finding comfort are all the driving forces and focuses of this novel. and i found it to provide a really great balance for everything else that is going on.
so a fitting end to this cosy fantasy tale that is vibrant in heart and mythology.
I always envisioned the story as a duology, with Daughter of the Moon Goddess and Heart of the Sun Warrior, inspired by different elements of the core mythology.
Heart of the Sun Warrior continues Xingyin’s story and that of her companions, venturing to unexplored places in the Immortal Realm, encountering friends and enemies—old and new—as their world is plunged into peril. It's hard to go into the details without spoilers but within these pages you will find:
I'm rarely on Goodreads these days and you can find me mostly on Instagram and occasionally on Twitter (both at @suelynntan), and www.suelynntan.com. Part of me still can’t believe the duology will be complete this November, and I’m grateful to readers everywhere.
Exhausting! I don't feel like properly reviewing this because it sucked all energy out of me with its endless dragging of the plot, the silly love triangle that should've been solved early but the author didn't want to, the unnecessary kidnapping arc and the even more unnecessary bringing back of a dead character, and the anticlimactic ending.
Advice for authors: leave good enough alone, don't destroy your stories by stretching them so thin they will break. This should never have had a sequel, there's not enough plot for that.
Im going to be blunt here, the book crashed and burned just before the climax.
Those who read my review of the prequel know I absolutely adored the first book in the duology. The first 300 pages of this one were roughly of a similar quality, but suddenly the main character, Xingyin, forgot who she was. The writing got wooden. Characters and creatures started to betray their earlier characterizations. There was one specific point in which all the secondary characters came to Xingyin and showed us their characterization as if it were for the first time and we hadn’t just spent the last 800 pages learning who they were. I ended up hating Xingyin for her indecisiveness and poor choices. The romance went off the rails.
On a positive note, I did really enjoy a step into a more grey, ambiguous morality from the noblebright foundation that the first book laid out. The world building and Sue Lynn Tan’s ability to make Chinese mythology real and tangible is very much admired.
Without revealing too much I also feel the need to say that the ending will end up befuddling if not outright upsetting just about everyone. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book. Please just read Daughter of the Moon Goddess and be happy with how things tied up there. I don’t know if there was a rush to meet a deadline, a change in editors or what, but this book did not live up to expectations.
Live footage of me, searching for Liwei's relevancy to the plot outside of being a passive tool for his mother and Xingyin to bicker over (except, of course, when his fiery powers are suddenly convenient to the situation at hand):
The author should've let him actually die in Book 1 if his character was going to be nerfed this hard in the name of a ship - and this is coming from someone who was rooting for Wenzhi!
Me, trying to figure out what the hell the Houyi plotline was trying to achieve outside of protagonist wish fulfilment:
Me, searching for Wenzhi's realistic development and redemption:
This series started out as a retelling of the Legend of Chang'e and ended as a terrible fanfiction of the Legend of Chang'e. In fact, I might actually have to rate the previous book an extra star for wasted potential.
Note that this review will contain spoilers for both books in this duology.
Where do I start?
• Xingyin loses what little braincells she had and makes some of the most ridiculous decisions for the sake of plot. She does not develop as a character in the slightest as everything falls into place for her. Also, could she not shut her mouth in dangerous situations for TWO SECONDS??? Xingyin may be amongst the worst protagonists I've encountered in the genre AND THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING.
• Liwei and Wenzhi lose their individual personalities to become shadows of their previous selves. In Book 1, Liwei was the joyful, boyish golden retriever whilst Wenzhi was the mature knowledgeable one. Now, they are interchangeable in every way. Their dialogue, actions and stupidity are exactly the same.
• The love triangle could win an award for the daftest of all time. Even YA love triangles aren't usually handled as poorly as this.
Liwei is pushy, impatient and ignorant to Xingyin's feelings, especially where his parents are concerned. Wenzhi is a creep and stalker who chases Xingyin around begging for forgiveness while she reprimands him but doesn't do anything to stop him.
There is an actual scene in the middle of the book where Xingyin fights with Liwei, putting his engagement to Fengmei on the same level as Wenzhi's betrayal. What. The. Hell? Liwei had no choice in his engagement. He was forced to accept it for the good of the realm and for his parents. Unlike Wenzhi, who wasn't forced to do anything. He just wanted power.
I think Xingyin's character was dumbed down to excuse her forgiveness of Wenzhi. Now I'm not against second chance romances but this was too far. Wenzhi didn't make a silly mistake, his betrayal was calculated up to the right moment. His actions were beyond abhorrent and all for his own means.
Towards the end of the book
• Chang'e still has ZERO personality. There were snippets of her mortal life at the start of the book which gave me hope that she would be fleshed out as a character. But alas, nope. And her reunion with Houyi has got to be the biggest WTF moment. He let her think he was dead for eighteen years. I was waiting for her to give him a good slap and distance herself to gather her emotions but instead they clear everything in a quick conversation and are young and in love again.
• What even was the Empress subplot. I got serious Star Jalsha vibes with the witchy mother-in-law forced to work with her detested daughter-in-law. Not to mention we're never told the Empress's name. So much for humanising her. We never find out about her previous life and her courtship with the Emperor. Her marriage is extremely unhappy and Xingyin remarks on her homesickness and grief. How do you take so many fascinating opportunities for character building and then... never expand on them?
• WHY IS XINGYIN DEFENDING THE EMPEROR WHO DESTROYED HER FAMILY AND SO MANY OTHER FAMILIES? He locked up the dragons. He punished Chang'e for something out of her control and made her a slave. He ruined the lives of many women including the Empress's and Lady Hualing's. He was willing to let the sunbirds burn the mortal realm and all in it.
The Emperor is easily the most evil character in the duology. His actions are unforgivable. NOTHING happens to him at all. He faces no consequences except for the grief after his wife's death, y'know, whom he never seemed to care for much and was regularly unfaithful to?
Xingyin is always forced to defend the Emperor and fight on his side because "the Emperor is bad, but (insert villain) is worse". So now at the end of the story he is able to have a nice retirement and run free. I can't explain how problematic this portrayal is and I am slightly concerned regarding the author's political beliefs in real life.
• Just saying but the villain of the story actually had a point, wanting to destroy the immortal realm and all. Shame he had such laughable motivations and the most generic Disney villain backstory.
• Remember the random timeskips we all loved in book 1? Well, they're back, and even more confusing than ever. Exactly how much time passed between the battle at the Eastern sea and the visit to the Sun goddess? No idea! Just "time passed" what's that supposed to mean?
• The girl-on-girl hate is back, featuring the consorts of the Emperor of the Demon Realm. Here we have a bunch of petty, vapid women fighting over their sons' achievements. Their position relies solely on their beauty and favour from the Emperor. This is never called out once.
• Shuxiao. Here you can see my gallery, consisting of a bunch of objects more interesting than her:
There were times when a group of characters were together, then Shuxiao would say something and I had to remind myself who she was. Her friendship with Xingyin in Book 1 was terribly developed and the result was glaring.
• The fakeout at the end was such a cop-out. The way death is portrayed in this series makes me mad to no end. Xingyin and Chang'e both experience terrible personal losses but instead of learning to get over their grief they yearn and sob until they discover that those who died are conveniently alive for no well explained reason and now they are happy again!
• Real grief is experienced by Yanxi, an underexplored character whose loss takes the form of a brutally described child death scene that serves no purpose except for shock value. Liwei's reaction to his mother's death is skipped over because Xingyin is too busy crying over Wenzhi. And what was the point of Ping'er dying? She had little to no presence in either story.
• Why is the worldbuilding still so shoddy? Why does the immortal realm feel so tiny? How do the powers even work? Why is everyone able to just summon a cloud and travel wherever they want? Why do they conveniently forget this fact whenever it could be useful? What is the mortal realm? Is it only ancient China?
Now, the worst part of this book.
The chivalrous mortal who risked his life to save the world from flaming sunbirds. Chang'e's love and Xingyin's father who they left behind in the mortal realm while they ascended to immortality.
In Heart Of The Sun Warrior, it's revealed that Houwi
is an immortal
living a mortal life on earth
cause he's so overpowered
and wants to be more overpowered
R.I.P. Xingyin's character development and all the stuff in Book 1 she did to prove that anyone can be a hero despite not coming from an overpowered immortal family. R.I.P. any chance of seeing Chang'e learn to overcome her grief over his death and be her own character after twenty years of mourning.
What in the Disney? What about the original tale of Chang'e, where Houyi took his own life in despair? Who is this grouchy old man too cowardly to approach his wife and cold to his daughter?
A sad, cold one star. ______________________________
Daughter Of The Moon Goddess ⭐⭐✨ Heart Of The Sun Warrior ⭐
I am so sad to be writing this review and giving this book only three stars. I went into this book with high expectations and I left feeling really let down. I loved the first book in the series and it was only of my favorite books of the year..but this book didn't do it for me. I nearly gave this 2 stars because it disappointed me so much.
Yes the writing is still very nice, lyrical and beautiful but it had hardly any action and the little it had was mediocre. This is essence is just a romance with a hint of fantasy.
There was a love triangle in this book which I don't mind but it felt like that was the only story it was trying to tell - everything else felt like an after thought. It almost felt like the author decided on a whim to expand this series.
I also found the pacing really difficult I can see why people have decided to put this book down, it doesn't flow nicely from chapter to chapter it seems to bounce around and never really settle. There were some repetitive moments/sentences too.
The ending was fine, but I don't know if we needed this book really. It felt rushed and I am gutted. I think I will think of The Daughter of the Moon Goddess as a standalone, and if i decide to re-read I will only be reading the one.
True loss. True pain. True love. True war. True grief.
To say I am surprised by the depth of my feelings for this story would be a lie. I could feel the under currents of talent in every word Sue Lynn Tan wrote in Daughter of the Moon Goddess. To still be sitting in awe over what I experienced, that's what I am surprised by.
I am so rarely shattered by a story in such an intrinsic way. To find a character like Xingyin: I've only ever found two others before. I didn't just become a part of her world, but a part of her as well. I'll hold her in my heart for the rest of my life, and I can't wait to see what happens in book three.
This book is about so much more than a girls choice between two boys. If you're looking for a love triangle done the right way, it's right here. To see Xingyin work through her feelings for Liwei and Wenzhi while also suffering all different kinds of heart break is powerful beyond measure. She believes she can't forgive and trust, she believes she will never be enough, she recognizes that at some point her choice shouldn't be based on words, but action.
Action is all that matters, in the end. Action and follow through. While they both do all they can to do both, only one is there every step of the way. I told myself I wouldn't choose, but by the end I think it was impossible not to admit I was swaying one way over the other.
The beauty of this story was that I didn't want to. They were both so respectful, so understanding, so mature. Did they have their moments where I wished they would take a step back? Yes, but the reality inside the fantasy of two boys fighting for a girls affection was so refreshing.
This book is not for the light-hearted, nor the hopeful. It's a book testing your ability to withstand anything the world throws at you. Every time my heart felt like it had a break, every time I relaxed, I lost someone new. Someone I didn't think I could ever lose. Tan plays with every emotion, and she doesn't try to heal it. She doesn't make it better.
It's heavy, and it's real.
Xingyin asks herself, "Was my heart strong enough to shatter again?" and I found myself thinking that she was. After finishing, I wondered why that was my first instinct. I wondered why I didn't hesitate to believe she would get up, that she would continue moving forward. If she reflects a part of me, why would I say she would continue to move forward when if someone asked the same about me, I would never have so much belief in myself?
If characters become a part of us, if I believe so fully that Xingyin will always get back up; why can I not apply that same understanding to myself?
Her father says, "Only the truly brave proceed regardless" and I believe that is more than true. So maybe I'm brave, too. Maybe I found myself in Xingyin so I could recognize that I have kept going, no matter how much I believed I couldn't.
Maybe Xingyin is the recognition of my healing, and the next part of her life can be a reflection of what I have to look forward to.
We go through so many cycles in our lives. School to school. College to work. Job to job. Love to love. Life to death. There is always change, there is always a grace period, there is always learning and loving and experiencing, and it all revolves around how we choose to live our lives.
I can't wait to see where Xingyin's choices take her next. I already can't wait to read this again.
Just as, "A life without love was a night without stars" a world without books is a dream without words.
This is a very hard review to write. The Daughter of the Moon Goddess was one of my favorite books of the year, maybe of all time. When I found out about the sequel I was beyond happy. However, I almost wish I hadn’t read this book.
First of all, the writing is very stiff. The dialogue does not flow nor does it feel relatable in any way. I almost never felt any real emotions from these characters whom I had so greatly loved in the last book.
Xingyin feels like a different character. She faces many battles in her quest to save the Celestial Kingdom. However I never really felt she was in any danger. Everything wraps up very conveniently and you just know nothing bad is really going to happen to her. Even when there is a death it never really seems to affect anyone and its more just a plot device to move to the next location.
Chang”e felt very weak and not smart at all. The love triangle was the worst part. It really ruined things for me.
I did like the setting and the different magic types and the different rulers. It was fun seeing the ride on clouds and seeing Xingyin use a bow again. The writing is still beautiful. I love the setting, food, and magic. It’s just not what I was expecting after having read the first book.
Do not read any further if you do not want spoilers.
Liwei was done so wrong in this book! The love triangle felt like what would have happened if Bella chose Jacob instead of Edward. I hated this triangle, the romance between Wenzhi and Xingyin. It felt gross, wrong, and not real at all. I did not feel anything for these two except disappointment. The emotions I had for Xingyin and Liwei went deep and seeing them reunite in DOTMG was so rewarding. Now seeing all of that turn on its head juts makes me sad.
The love triangle felt so forced. There was no chemistry between Xingyin and Wenzi
I want justice for Liwei. He did not deserve the treatment he received.
I’m not sure how to rate this book. It’s interesting. The magic is unique, but the dialogue, characters and romance are terrible.
I just couldn't get enough of this beautiful world! Sue Lynn Tan's writing in Heart of the Warrior is as elegant and lyrical as in the previous book, but there's a lot more grief, heartache and emotional struggle and wisdom that comes at a price. The ending was perfect and not only because of how the triangle is resolved, but also because you get the emotional side of what it's like to be an immortal in this fantasy world.
This might sound brutal, but honestly, this book seems useless. (Warning: Spoilers ahead)
The entire plot seems based off a what if. The whole thing with Minister Wu was just another version of SO MANY OTHER CHARACTERS FROM OTHER BOOKS who was a courter but wanted more power. It completely butchered Sue Lynn Tan's usual manner of creativity. Nuh uh.
I honestly didn't like Houyi coming back. His explanation of why he's still in the mortal world and of how he never came to see them before was confusing. This plot was confusing and unrealistic.
Tao and Leiying are pointless. Xingyin could've figured out how to get the Elixir of Immortality herself. Also, how Tao betrayed her, and how Xingyin accepted to put her life in danger with a stranger?! What?! Sue Lynn Tan made her dumber in this book! In the previous book, she kept a sharp mind even when she was desperate. But now, she falls for the easiest way of fooling someone.
Chang'e should've been more present plot-wise. She seems like a background character, and her actions are extremely naive and thoughtless. She would've died in chapter three without Xingyin.
Sue Lynn Tan was pushing for Xingyin and Wenzhi SO HARD. Coming back to before, it seems like she dumbed up Xingyin so she would forgive Wenzhi faster. Within a few chapters she goes from hating him to loving and making out with him, as if nothing had ever happened? What?? Does she not realize that Wenzhi isn't conquering the world because he's too focused on her? And that he still evidently thinks it's okay to use people and that he only isn't using her because he loves her? Simply, it isn't hard to see who the author was rooting for, and apparently so hard that she didn't care about leaving plot holes along the way.
Xingyin kicking Liwei to the curb without an explanation was a horrible move, but fans glorify her for it because they were rooting for the other man. Liwei doesn't deserve this and he has every right to be angry, bitter, or jealous. Let's not forget that even when he caught her kissing the man he hated most, HE STILL TRIED TO MAKE HER UNDERSTAND HER FEELINGS, KNOWING IT WOULD HURT HIM.
Things that were okay about the book:
Zhiyi. Zhiyi is Liwei's half sister who is the girl from the painting in the first book. She was interesting and I was glad to meet her after the foreshadowing from book 1. Still, she could've easily been squeezed in book 1.
The Jade Rabbit's introduction. However, she should've been there in book 1.
The death of the Celestial Empress.
Honestly, it would be better if this book didn't exist. I feel that this book is practically a group of prompts Sue Lynn Tan tried to mix together. I had originally bought this book to ease my curiosity, but it just wasted four hours of my time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This story was great! I enjoyed the read and audiobook. Love is more complicated in this book as well as family. I loved the twists at the beginning and at the end. I enjoyed the men fighting for love. There's more actions and adventures in this story I believe. The ending was good but I was hoping the new Celestial King would also get a happy ending.
This sequel started with Xingyin, the main character. She's been home relaxing with her mom for a year. The prince still hung around her and surprisingly so did the guy that took her captive from the previous book. I thought what he did in book 1, he would be long gone in book 2. Xingyin found out a new secret about her father. But she had to do something illegal quick and trusting someone she just met was a risk she had to take. Someone else visited Xingyin's mom (The Moon Goddess)'s house under a disguise. Later Xingyin found the person's true purpose and tried to stop him but the task wasn't easy. That person has the Celestial Kingdom King's ears and Xingyin already on his bad side couldn't stand a chance. In the end, it was the moon goddess that the person in disguise wanted but Xingyin will not give up her mother easily especially of the efforts she took from book 1 to freed her.
A good family story with undecided love and friendship.
Thank you Williammorrowbooks for the opportunity to read and review!
This highly anticipated sequel definitely packs a punch and builds upon the expansive and rich world first introduced in DotMG!
Taking place 1 year after the ending of DotMG, this essentially picks up right where we left off, as a year is basically like the blink of an eye for immortals. We find Xingyin trying to relish the peace she fought hard for, while still feeling tense and changed after everything she’s gone through and the continuing looming presence of an Celestial Emperor she defied. We see Liwei trying to get back to the days where he and Xingyin were young and in love, and find Wenzhi on a redemption tour.
Yet of course, stability doesn’t last long as the emperor and a cunning advisor make their play, throwing everything into chaos. This was action packed with confrontations abounding. There’s break ins, break outs, prisons, battles, dragons, a flurry of new magical creatures, and new characters that rock Xingyin’s world. Along with all this, there are heavy losses that leapt off the page. You can feel Xingyin’s hope and grief, her torn emotions, and truly how she’s come so far from the unblemished and longing girl of DotMG.
I did love the political plotting and action sequences, the writing is again lush and well done. The world expands significantly to show how full the Immortal World is. There’s a big focus on how grief and trauma, sometimes making us stronger, while also stripping us of other things; changing us. Xingyin also does a lot of self reflection over all her trials and set backs, and it was great to go on that journey with her. She doesn’t get supercharged and powered, she really stumbles and loses, but still she persevered, ultimately finding her courage and her mettle.
That said, there were some things that I didn’t love about this. Some of which I will put in spoilers.
First, Chang’e’s uselessness and naivety, including what her choices cause are so blindingly frustrating. It’s like Xingyin must be the parent to a hapless toddler. There are other ways to have the conflict unfold or at the very least have her mother put her instinct to protect her own child first. I kept waiting for that moment of soft strength, or quiet guidance from Chang’e that would turn Xingyin’s perspective or fears on their head, but nothing. Our girl needs support, mom!! There were a lot of missed opportunities for Xingyin and Chang’e to connect and come together as a force, to give some space to the idea of the Moon Goddess also coming into her own form of fierceness. For example, the scheming at the Southern Sea and even in the climax. Chang’e was used in a very perfunctory manner that didn’t add much depth or background to Xingyin and I thought better incorporation of different types of strength and coming back to strengthen that bond that so motivated Xingyin in DotMG would have made this much more emotional and deep.
The love triangle mellow drama was exhausting this time around because they overlapped so much through forced coordination and the choice, to me, felt clear and very heavy handed. I liked the Wenzhi redemption arc and all, but I would have preferred something more akin to friendship and renewed understanding instead of the obsessive and constant self flagellation attempts he goes through at trying to winning her back. It’s just a bit “me thinks she doth protest too much” and this happens for far too many hundreds of pages. Also for the love triangle aspect to really work like it did in book 1, or even in the bad way where it’s a constant vying from each suitor, there needed to be more Liwei throughout but he was an afterthought and often absent of any autonomy or personality, making him a much less compelling character to invest in even though he’s the idealized choice presented.
Lastly, while I loved that the ending was a bit more drawn out to be realistic — giving Xingyin time to grieve and heal from everything that happens, I did also find that it was a bit too long for the sake of giving us some brief scenes with supporting characters. While nice, i don’t think we needed such neat ‘closure’ so to speak and those interactions don’t do enough tie in with the emotional healing we find Xingyin yearning and striving for in the aftermath. By drawing the true ending out, it also felt like it detracted a bit from the power of the climax which was very emotional, though the last 2 chapters were truly worth it, it might just feel like a lot of moping and aimless wandering until then.
Overall I think this is satisfying and ties everything up well enough. Is it a bit too long winded like book 1? Yes, but the writing is beautiful and in truth that detail was helpful at times in building and painting in the broad world expansion we get with all the kingdoms and the full journey and transformation Xingyin goes through. When I talk about wanting characters with depth and grit, Xingyin is a shining example. She’s powerful but not SO powerful it’s a joke she’s ever in danger. She goes through gray areas and makes choices that don’t always stand up to hindsight positively. She’s fully changed by the end of HotSW and she’s no longer the girl we first met, and that’s ok! Her peace was more than hard won and she’s finally able to be selfish with her happiness. It’s truly a full circle heroine’s transformation that took a long time and several years to get to, and I think taking that time and space to do that serves this duology well, making it an exceptional one to read and reread.
Thank you Harper Voyager and Netgalley for my galley!
Oh I love this SO MUCH MORE than DOTMG. DOTMG was beautiful but HOTSW? IT’S MAGNIFICENT.
So we came back to the Celestial Kingdom with Xingyin and... everyone. It all started on the moon, picking up where DOTMG had left, where we thought everything was fine and peaceful. This book followed another dire matter that forced Xingyin and everyone she loved to flee her home on the moon and became fugitives.
The writing was still beautiful and lyrical, with enchanting and vivid imagery and impressive setting. The story was action packed and full of tension. The plot improved so much fron the previous book.
I enjoyed the character dynamics, even though I didn't really like a certain prince being "Damsel in Distress" at one point instead of doing something heroic for his lover. But as I finished the book, I LOVED each one of the main characters. The sacrifices they had to make gave me all kinds of emotions. The last 10% was hurting me SO MUCH I couldn’t stop sobbing until hours after I finished reading it. Everything was beautiful. Wouldn’t ask for anything to be done differently. No criticism from me. Absolutely epic. But I’d like to have an extended epilogue please… I didn’t want the story to end:(
Can’t wait for the next Celestial Kingdom novel! Even though the characters are new, I HOPE Xingyin, Wenzhi, and Liwei will make appearances!
Update 7/7/2022: I GOT THE ARC OMG CANT WAITTTTTT TO START READING IT
Update 3/5/2022: THE (UNOFFICIAL) COVER REVEAL!!!!!!! Bless Kuri Huang's hands she never misses 😭❤
Update 14/2/2022: OMG WE HAVE A TITLE AND IT SOUNDS SOOOO GOOD
15/1/2022: In Sue Lynn Tan I trust. Can't wait to meet Xingyin and Liwei again!!
Every once in a while, you read a book that just feels so special that you struggle to put it into words. That is this series for me. I'll start out by saying that I don't actually think that this sequel was absolutely necessary - I think you can definitely read Daughter of the Moon Goddess as a standalone if you wanted to, and overall, I did still prefer it over Heart of the Sun Warrior. However, I think that if you, like me, were craving more from these characters and this world, you will absolutely find that here.
I think that Sue Lynn Tan's writing is absolutely stunning - it's lyrical and descriptive, but if there's one thing that she truly excels at, it's an action scene, which I feel like isn't a combination that you see very often. The pacing of this book is, in my opinion, much faster than the first book - I think a common complaint that I've seen of DOTMG is that the first half the book is too slow, and I think if you were one of those people, you'll be much happier with this book. The pacing is very similar to the second half of DOTMG, and it's just non-stop, which isn't usually my cup of tea, but it works really well here.
Absolutely everything about this book reminds me of the best xianxia c-dramas, from the tropes, the episodic storytelling style, the way the book ended, and the romance. That might not work for everyone, but for me, it just has the right amount of nostalgia that makes it feel so special. The way that Tan evokes emotions in the reader is incredible - I was surprised at how much I cared about some of the minor characters in the book, but I think a lot of it has to do with how well Tan writes Xingyin's POV. While I personally don't necessarily care about those characters directly, I was still so emotionally affected by what happened to them because of how it affected Xingyin, if that makes sense. The ending of this book is absolutely wild, and I don't think I stopped crying for the entirety of the last 40 pages.
Overall, while I don't think that this book is as strong as the first book, I think that the ending was just so satisfying to me that it made up for any of the shortcomings throughout. I will always have such a special place in my heart for this series, and I cannot wait to re-read this on audio with Natalie Naudus as the narrator. I've said it before, but I truly think this is one of the best pieces of xianxia work in the English language right now - it's very accessible for those who are new to the genre and its conventions, and I really hope that more people pick it up and fall in love with not only this series, but this genre as a whole.
I want to start this review acknowledging how I absolutely ADORED Daughter of the Moon Goddess. Before finishing the book, I knew it was going to be one of my all-time favorites let alone a top read for 2022. So when I say that the Heart of the Sun Warrior is one of my biggest let downs at as a book is a gross understatement. There were at least two parts within this story where I strongly considered DNFing this book.
The writing in this book is just as lyrical and beautiful as the first, but it’s definitely more fluff than plot in this book. However, some of the dialogue didn’t flow and felt very unrealistic/unrelatable. There were numerous duplicate/repetitive moments and sentences where it made you feel like you were re-reading by accident. There were huge chunks from DOTMG repeated throughout this book. As a result, I felt absolutely no emotions from the characters, and everything felt like it didn’t have any actual weight to the story. My biggest disappointment with the writing is how such dynamic characters as Liwei (Emperor of the Celestial Kingdom), Wenzhi (King of the Mind Magic Kingdom), and her father (Infamous Slayers of the 9 Sun Birds) are depicted as useless, dumb man-children who exist solely for Xingyin’s protection and bidding.
DOTMG had some instances where Xingyin was aggravating, but it was in stride with her character development for the most part. In HOTSW, Xingyin was down-right disgustingly aggravating, selfish, self-involved, immature, arrogant, and stupid. She pushed me to the point of not caring about this story on multiple parts. Throughout the book, every character, including Xingyin, points this out, but she arrogantly ignores them all. She’s always placing herself in the middle of every situation because she’s selfish and only cares about the one problem that’s in front of her. Problems arise because she doesn’t care about anyone or anything else during that time, and she has no foresight to see how this decision may impact quite literally anything else. Book one had her learn how to work with a team and depending on someone doesn’t make her weak. In book two, she forgot all of that.
The pacing of this book was very painful to endure. I have an entire soap box about editors and publishing companies extending works to make more money, and I definitely think this was the case with this duology. It read like a CW superhero television show. The story beginning had absolutely the thinnest connection possible to the end. Most of the middle is the love triangle that I will talk about later. Characters that weren’t needed were brought back, and I’m guessing it was to invoke fond memories from the audience. However, it just strengthened the case that this book wasn’t needed.
Next is this goddamn love triangle. I love morally grey bad boys, so I completely understand the draw to Wenzhi. Personally, he was my favorite. I appreciated how he recognized his feelings early on and didn’t shy from them like Liwei did. He truly embodied the “I will burn down this entire world for you” energy that I love. Overall, I felt Xingyin and Liwei were a better match. Even the title of this book has you believeing the same thing, so we didn’t need 80% of this book focusing on who she was going to choose. Ultimately, I think Wenzhi and Liwei deserved better than Xingyin. She was totally in love with Liwei, but she didn’t want to deal with palace life and empress responsibilities, so she took every out she could to avoid it namely breaking Liwei’s heart. While I don’t agree with what Wenzhi did in DOTMG, the way Xingyin prosecuted him throughout this ENTIRE book was just overkill. While the book wants you to believe, it took Wenzhi literally dying for her to realize this; I think it was her first tasting her life as an empress. Do I believe she has love for both? Yes, but I also strongly believes she’s not IN love with either. I think they’re both better without her.
While on the topic of love, I was hoping for more from Xingyin’s parents. Their return to one another felt like filler where it could’ve been used as a very strong guide for Xingyin to decide on a love. Her mother felt even more weak and more unnecessary in this book which is a huge disappointment. I was really hoping to see a stronger bond between mother and daughter. I also really wanted to see Xingyin’s relationship with her father, his connection to the dragons, and their connections with the jade bow develop into a strong story.
I’m just really overwhelmed with how empty this book is. I left this book feeling like the last chapter and maybe one plot point could’ve been the epilogue for DOTMG. This book was truly unnecessary.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The ONLY reason for the 3 star review is my deep-seated hatred for half assed love triangles and melodramatic heroines. The Chinese lore and mythology and the WRITING was stunning. But the ending was suchhhhhhh a cop-out I’m sorry 😭😭
This time around I had a better time more consistently. I think it helped that we dropped the triangle. It was very clear the entire book where the reader was supposed to care about in terms of the romance arc, and the narrative was focused on building that up and so those beats just felt a lot more close to home.
As for the arcs that weren't romance related. I felt that one of the arcs related to Xingyin's family wasn't quite as strong this time around. It had to compete with a different plot and so it didn't get quite the same level of care and attention that a similar plot in the first book got and that felt pretty unfortunate given how little these characters really knew each other. The other non romance arc, this government coup situation... that... that really didn't need to be here. I see why it was, because aside from what will happen with the romance it was the only part of the story that had any firm footing in the first book, it makes this feel more like a direct sequel than just a companion to the first book. Still though, with how the family plot was sort of used as a parallel it really took away from some of the time spent with the larger plot... It also didn't help that the larger plot was spearheaded by a character that had pretty valid reasons to be doing what they were doing... and like... the government was already questionable so I'm not sure what this little plot really had going for it?
In some ways I don't think that there was nice payoff in the end. Sure the last 15% of the book is a wild time, we had some really high highs followed by whiplashing lows, but we also hit a brick wall. The last few chapters felt like we spent a lot of time dealing with the same thing and not really getting on with it. They definitely felt like they could have been condensed into one chapter... but yeah. I don't regret having picked this one up.
For someone that had a spotty record with the first book, I think this was still a good time. For fans of the first installment I think there is a lot to like here and they'll be happy. I'm excited to see what the next book in this world is going to be, because the vibes of this setting are definitely immaculate and I will be keeping an eye on what Tan puts out next that isn't in this world.
after reading “daughter of the moon goddess” and loving it so much i had to immediately start this beautiful sequel which is also the conclusion of the duology. if you liked the first book as much as i did you’re absolutely going to love this one.
heart of the sun warrior is one the best and most heart wrenching conclusions to a book series that i have read this year without any doubt. the stakes were high in this and there was much to be lost.
as i mentioned in my review for the first book, the main reason why i love this series is the characters. they have become so dear to me that i can’t even describe it. the focus of this book was mainly on the relationships between all of them. it was about the power of family, friendship and love which in my opinion was so beautiful. xingyin, my dearest goes through so much hardship in this book, my heart was hurting for her constantly. wenzhi and liwei remain the best love interests i have ever encountered, on god. i love them both equally and i am satisfied with the way this love triangle ended. she could have picked either of them and i still would support it. they both always put her feelings and her happiness first no matter what. much praise to the author for not ruining their personalities and development in order to justify xingyin’s final choice as some authors would have done. to be honest, all the choices made perfect sense and they were handled immaculately.
not going to spoil anything but i’ll just say that if you plan on reading this book you should prepare yourself to be emotionally destroyed. there were moments when this book had me gasping for air quite literally. i was drowning in tears and i didn’t know how to function.
overall, a great fanstasy romance and one of my new all time favorites. i hope that everyone enjoys it as much as i did.