Title: Silver Phoenix (Phoenix #1)
Author: Cindy Pon
Genre: Historical Fantasy
No one wants Ai Ling. Deep down, she is relieved – despite the dishonor she has brought on her family – to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger’s bride banished to the inner quarters. But now, something is after her. Something horrible. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to realize that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn’t only a quest to find her father, but a venture with stakes higher than she could imagine. Just as she will need the mysterious power growing within her, she will also need help. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help…and perhaps more.
I think it must have been the Chinese class I just started that convinced me to pick up this book, because I can’t think of another reason. The title caught my interest a while ago (Silver Phoenix was my screen name at one point), but it just didn’t sound all that interesting to me until I found myself checking it out from the library.
Ai Ling was interesting. From what I know of ancient Chinese culture (and admittedly, I don’t know much), she seemed a little more brave and independent than I would have expected. I liked her, but it seemed like she didn’t exactly fit the story.
Chen Yong I also liked. He was sweet and supportive and a dang good fighter, and I enjoyed him and the tentative maybe-romance between him and Ai Ling. I didn’t love him, though, kind of because he was really private. It seemed like everything Ai Ling learned about him she learned secondhand.
Li Rong, Chen Yong’s younger brother, was actually my favorite character. He was a flirt and a goofball with a fabulous sense of humor – one of those guys who will make you laugh no matter the situation. It made me sad that he was in so little of the book.
The plot seemed a little disjointed at times for me. Ai Ling’s betrothal goes south, and her father doesn’t return from a trip. So she leaves to go find her father, but keeps getting attacked by evil things. It isn’t until over halfway through the book when Ai Ling discovers what’s really going on and why she actually came on the journey. Some of it felt a little predestined-ish to me, which seemed like a cop-out at times. It was good, but not fantastic.
I loved seeing lots of Chinese magic and mythology. The plot hinged on reincarnation, which I couldn’t completely suspend my disbelief over, but I loved discovering the Chinese take on gods and mythical creatures and heaven and other mythological stuff.
Apparently, there is a sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, which I did not know about until I explored Cindy Pon’s website. I do not think I will read it. Silver Phoenix was good, not great. I did enjoy the story, but I have no desire to continue.
The Phoenix series:
- Silver Phoenix
- Fury of the Phoenix