The Magnolia Sword
CHINA, 484 A.D.A Warrior in DisguiseAll 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 DynastyThanks 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.Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore--a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine.

The Magnolia Sword Details

TitleThe Magnolia Sword
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 10th, 2019
PublisherTu Books
ISBN-139781620148044
Rating
GenreRetellings, Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical

The Magnolia Sword Review

  • شيماء ✨
    January 1, 1970
    my heart says yes but my bank account says, "girl, you've got too many books on your cart for someone with 5 euros to their name"but...A! MULAN! RETELLING!
  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
    January 1, 1970
    MULAN RETELLING!!!? I really hope this is legit.Ooo this finally has a title! The Magnolia part really makes me think of the Mulan Chinese drama I watched a while back.
  • Nina (Every Word A Doorway)
    January 1, 1970
    Last time a book lured me in with the promise of a Mulan retelling, I was so disappointed because the storyline barely resembled Mulan, save for the fact that the heroine dressed as a boy (yes, Flame in the Mist, I'm looking at you). But this premise sounds more like an actual retelling. Written by a Chinese-American author who knows her shit. So, you'd better deliver me what you promise, book!
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  • Simona Bartolotta
    January 1, 1970
    Be still my beating heart.
  • Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    FINALLYThis better be good. The last couple Mulan "retellings" I read were garbage. lol
  • Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]
    January 1, 1970
    Every woman has a great deal of experience presenting herself as someone other than who she is, since no girl is ever everything the world wants her to be. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS. This is, without a doubt, the BEST Mulan retelling I have ever read. Granted, I don’t remember having read a huge number of Mulan retellings. But this one is definitely still the best, by any margin. It’s gloriously well-researched, with spectacular characterisation and writing, and though I’ve rounded down (because I Every woman has a great deal of experience presenting herself as someone other than who she is, since no girl is ever everything the world wants her to be. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS. This is, without a doubt, the BEST Mulan retelling I have ever read. Granted, I don’t remember having read a huge number of Mulan retellings. But this one is definitely still the best, by any margin. It’s gloriously well-researched, with spectacular characterisation and writing, and though I’ve rounded down (because I’m a stingy bitch) this is really 4.5 stars.Nineteen-year-old Hua Mulan has spent her life masquerading as her dead twin brother. She’s trained and trained for one purpose: one day soon, she will have to meet a young man named Kai in a duel. Their families have been rivals for generations, and every generation, two representatives are forced into combat. The prize? Ownership of the swords Heart Sea and Sky Blade, two swords of extraordinary quality and craftsmanship.Currently, each family owns one sword. Mulan’s father’s duel ended in a tie, but it left him paralysed, so she will also have to avenge this insult when the time comes for her own duel. Her skill at weaponry is second to none. In her own words: I can make getting hit with a lotus seed paste bun hurt. Give me a walnut and I will break a man’s jaw. Just as the day of the duel approaches, though, she’s hit with news. It turns out the duel won’t be taking place after all. The country is under imminent threat of invasion from the Rourans across the Great Wall of China, and Kai – whose face Mulan has never actually seen – is postponing it, since every available male has been conscripted into the army.Every available male does, of course, also include Mulan, since she’s officially registered as male. So she sets off to the encampment – but she has no intention of dying in battle. Instead, she attaches herself to the personal warrior band of the princeling, cousin to the emperor, assuming he’s too important to see real fighting.Can I just pause here for a moment and say how much I LOVED Mulan’s thought process here? She’s patriotic, but not blindly so; she’s smart and pragmatic enough to know that she doesn’t want to die on the battlefield, and she doesn’t care if other people would label her a coward for it. I found this aspect of her character way more realistic than the idealistic naïfs I’ve read about in other books.Unfortunately for her, she’s incorrect about the princeling not seeing real war. But that ends up being alright, because she very quickly discovers that Kai and the princeling are one and the same. The discovery shatters some of the things she’s always believed about herself, her father, and the fateful duel which paralysed him. Moreover, the princeling is still unaware that she’s female, despite their growing friendship.The rest of the novel is a wonderfully detailed account of a single moment from China’s immense history. Thomas researched the HELL out of this thing. Her author’s note says it better than I could, but she’s done her absolute best to recreate the world of Mulan in historical fiction. It was slightly confusing at times, yet never boring. That’s also because of her brilliant characterisation : almost every single character was fully fleshed out, and their motivations were explored in painstaking detail.Also, I LOVED the really immersive look at Chinese culture we got. The matchmakers, the intense level of respect towards one’s elders, the elaborate courtly language – it all helped to build the atmosphere, even if Thomas’s descriptions of physical places was sometimes weak.It was a quick read, so I won’t say much more beyond the fact that the romance was subtle but fairly satisfying. The girl-dressed-as-boy aspect was one of the more believable ones I’ve seen in the book world, though I wish we knew what she did when she got her period… Overall It didn’t really bring a new twist to the old story of Mulan, or anything like that, but it was lovely to read. ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you! [Blog] - [Bookstagram]
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  • Cheryl Klein
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first novel I signed up as an editor at Lee & Low, and it has all the excellent things you want a Mulan retelling to have: a Mulan who's figuring out who she is, an epic sweep in the war against the Northerners, family drama, terrific fight scenes, romance. I've loved reading every draft, and I think readers will love it too.
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  • Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
    January 1, 1970
    Well I mean...I have more faith in this than the film adaptation currently in the works.
  • Brie
    January 1, 1970
    I don't usually do early reviews, but when I do, it's because the book was very good. And this one is better than that. This book is so sweet and elegant and with so much restraint. There's not an extra ounce of fat in it but just the right amount to give it all the flavor; everything has a reason to be, and the world is so seamlessly rendered that it was easy to just be in it and let the story take me where it wanted. Mulan is a wonderful heroine, and so are all the the other characters. The ro I don't usually do early reviews, but when I do, it's because the book was very good. And this one is better than that. This book is so sweet and elegant and with so much restraint. There's not an extra ounce of fat in it but just the right amount to give it all the flavor; everything has a reason to be, and the world is so seamlessly rendered that it was easy to just be in it and let the story take me where it wanted. Mulan is a wonderful heroine, and so are all the the other characters. The romance is subtle but incredibly satisfying and super swoony. I really adored this novel. And the story is so thematically rich but never overwhelming. Just fabulous.
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  • Ivy
    January 1, 1970
    PLEASE. PLEASE. P L E A S E.edit 1/31/19: title ALERT TITLE ALERT holy FORKING shirtballs. VERY VERY GOOD beautiful AHH flowers SHE i love MY WiFE baalllaaaddd and SWORDSSSSSedit 3/8/19: cover ALERT. Jesus Christ this book could be used as a WEAPON. I LOVE HER. nUt.
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  • ♠️ TABI ♠️
    January 1, 1970
    While I was utterly annoyed and bored by her Sherlock retelling flop . . . anything Mulan will always call to me okay
  • Vic005
    January 1, 1970
    I NEED THIS NOW
  • Lenore .
    January 1, 1970
    Excited to start my ARC soon!
  • Amélie Boucher
    January 1, 1970
    An own voices Mulan retelling? YES PLEASE
  • diana
    January 1, 1970
    Can anyone please tell me there's a sequel?!?
  • Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)
    January 1, 1970
    Oh. My. God.MULANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.Seriously, though. Don't disappoint me. *shakes fists at book*
  • Jaime
    January 1, 1970
    04/04/19: I was correct, this is the greatest cover I've ever seen.05/02/19: This title is so fucking amazing and I am now so hyped for the cover because I can just tell that it's going to be the greatest cover in existence.08/09/18: It looks like Disney is going to disappoint me with their live-action movie so I'm gonna need this book to save me.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    Love a good retelling! Parts of this were slow pace, but I felt that the characters were done well. I also appreciated that Mulan pretending to be a bit was done in a way that felt more realistic, and also addressed the complications of going to the bathroom and bathing (though periods didn't come up). Overall an enjoyable retelling if your into that sort of thing!
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  • ♔ Dark Lordette Jennymort ♔
    January 1, 1970
    *SCREAMS*AND DEFEAT THE HUNS!AND GET OUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK*twitches on the floor like an addict*
  • Stephanie L (catteabooks)
    January 1, 1970
    A summary, finally! This is one of my most anticipated reads this year because come on, it's Mulan, and again it's Mulan.
  • Carina Olsen
    January 1, 1970
    There is so much I loved about this that I do not know where to begin. This Mulan retelling was every kinds of epic. And I loved every moment of it. I'm a huge fan of Sherry. And of the Disney movie version of Mulan. And so I knew I would adore this book. Which I did. So happy about it. Because this book was perfect.Writing down my feelings for this book will not be easy. Simply because my heart is so full of love, and that is the most difficult thing to find the words for. But gosh, how I will There is so much I loved about this that I do not know where to begin. This Mulan retelling was every kinds of epic. And I loved every moment of it. I'm a huge fan of Sherry. And of the Disney movie version of Mulan. And so I knew I would adore this book. Which I did. So happy about it. Because this book was perfect.Writing down my feelings for this book will not be easy. Simply because my heart is so full of love, and that is the most difficult thing to find the words for. But gosh, how I will try. As this book ruined me with how good it was. Five stars for sure. It is a book that I would read over and over again. As it made me so happy.This book tells the story of nineteen year old Mulan. A girl I loved from the very start, all the way until the end. This girl was fierce and brave and I loved her to pieces. She was scared and honest and I could not have loved her more. Getting to know Mulan was the best. She has such a great past too. A bit heartbreaking, but all interesting. I adored her relationship with her little brother and her Auntie and her child. And her father too, kind of. He was so complicated. And ended up having so many secrets. Yet I enjoyed reading about him too. For years now he has been training Mulan all the time, to get ready for a duel with a rival family. They have had this duel for ages, and this time it is Mulan's turn to try to reunite two special swords. Complicated, yet so exciting.The book begins with her having a practice fight with the man she will duel with in just a few weeks. They have met a couple of times before, all done secretly. Him hiding his full face, her dressing as a man. But despite this, Mulan has slowly been falling for this man she is fated to duel with, a man she could never be with. Their first scene together was pretty much amazing. Sigh. I shipped them right away, haha. Just could not help it. But then, just two weeks before their duel, the war suddenly shows up at Mulan's door.And she is the only person in her household that can go fight this war. Her father cannot walk, her brother is too young, and the son of her Auntie is not well enough. And so Mulan must dress up as a man, taking the place of her long dead twin brother, to go fight in the war. It was all full of details. And I loved it so very much. Her family seemed amazing. And her heartbreak about having to leave felt so real too. Her family want her back safe, but she does not believe it will be possible. Though she will try her hardest to survive.Which we get to witness almost right away. When she ends up showing her skills to a captain, and ends up travelling with him and a prince. A prince that make her think of the man she was to duel against. She is not sure if it is him or not, as she doesn't think it could be possible. But oh. Possible it was. Eee. And I just cannot tell you how much I loved it all. This book was full of small secrets. And they were all so very awesome. Mulan is hiding the fact that she is a girl, from everyone. Well, almost everyone. Loved that so.While doing that, she has to fight a war. And this war was pretty exciting to learn about. I loved all of the details included. I loved reading about the first time Mulan was attacked and had to defend herself. It did not go well. Despite how amazing she is at fighting. It felt so real and honest and I loved that. And then there were all the characters. She travels with only a few men, and they were all amazing. My gosh. How I loved getting to know them all and read about them. They were fun and so very adorable. All awesome.And then, of course, there was the princeling. Kai. I loved this man more than I can say. I loved reading about him and Mulan together, getting to know each other. I loved how Kai tried to protect her in small ways. I adored how they got to know things about the other. Their growing romance pretty much killed me. I shipped them so very much. And though this book does not take place over such a long period of time, it was still enough. Enough for me to love them both so much. Gosh. They were so cute together.But, you know, she is pretending to be a man. And Kai has a lot of secrets himself. Some revealed early, which I loved. This man was simply the best. He was afraid of so many things. And it made me love him more, because of how open he was with Mulan. I loved that there was no drama at all between them. A few secrets, but nothing big. Nothing that hurt. Sigh. This romance was perfection. Okay, there was one thing that bothered me. Spoilers. There was not a single kiss. What even. My poor heart, lol. But so good.This story takes place in ancient China. Which I loved so very much. I loved the history Sherry included in this book. I loved all the mentions of the different food and such. I loved the culture and diversity. I adored the Chinese names they all had. And what I loved so much as well was the open gay in the book. There were men in love with other men, and it seemed like a normal thing in this world. I loved that. And it was written well too. There is a lot of fighting included, martial arts ways, and it was so well done. I loved it all.The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan was everything I could have hoped for. It was so fun and exciting and oh so perfect. The characters were so well written and I adored the small romance. Getting to know Mulan and Kai made my heart truly happy. This Mulan retelling was every kind of perfect. Which I adored beyond words. It was not really a dark book, despite the war. It made me smile so often. It was sweet and adorable and a little dark and serious too. It was full of history and amazing characters. I truly enjoyed it.Biggest thank you to the publisher, Lee & Low Books, for approving my request to read this book early via Edelweiss. So glad I got to read this book right now. It was so precious to me. I cannot wait to own all the copies when it comes out in September. And my gosh, how badly I need to own the print ARC too, for my most perfect collection of books by Sherry. I shall go hunting for it. This book was every bit as perfect as I thought it would be. And you all need to read this book too. Was so easy to fall in love with. Truly perfect.---This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: https://carinabooks.blogspot.com/2019...
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  • J. Dominique
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from the Goodreads giveaway, and I am so glad that I did! When I first got the notification that I won the giveaway, I was just like, "oh cool," and didn't pay much attention to it. Then, when I actually got the book in, I was pleasantly surprised to see what it was about and that it was by an author I liked (and have actually met!).So, when I first started this book, I wasn't sure what to expect, since most of my experience with Mulan is from Disney . . . although the first I received this book from the Goodreads giveaway, and I am so glad that I did! When I first got the notification that I won the giveaway, I was just like, "oh cool," and didn't pay much attention to it. Then, when I actually got the book in, I was pleasantly surprised to see what it was about and that it was by an author I liked (and have actually met!).So, when I first started this book, I wasn't sure what to expect, since most of my experience with Mulan is from Disney . . . although the first chapter was a bit confusing to me, I was quickly drawn into the world of ancient China. Thomas's writing is simple and easy to read, which makes her dive into Chinese history all the much easier to understand. I do think a map would've been nice to be able to visualize where the characters traveled, but overall, I enjoyed learning more about the world. Although a good bulk of this story is traveling, the characters make the journey engaging. Their individual personalities quickly grow on you. Of course, I especially liked the romance between Kai and Mulan. It's definitely not a central point to the story ((view spoiler)[ they don't even kiss, which I'm not sure if I'm disappointed with or not (hide spoiler)]), but it's so sweet. I love vulnerable characters like Kai, and his relationship with Mulan and how they both strengthen each other is definitely ship-worthy. I would have liked a bit more development with Mulan. Despite her thing with her dad and having to dress up as a boy her whole life, I feel like we only touched the surface of her feelings about the topic. I would've liked to see her struggle more with her identity, her duty, and her desires. I do kind of wish this book had been a little longer. I think there's definitely some room for more character development, more world-building, and yes, more romance. However, the length doesn't deter from the story at all; it never feels too rushed. Still, for such a solid story, I wouldn't have complained at all if there'd been another hundred pages. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. Its action scenes feel straight out of a movie and its characters are a delight. After enjoying both this book and the Elemental Trilogy, I'm looking forward to what Thomas brings to the YA community next!
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  • Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.“We stand toe to toe, nothing but crossed blades between us.”This book is full of things that I don’t normally love: instalove, being on a journey nearly the whole book, more males characters than female characters, and girl disguises herself as boy for reasons... But most of these things is handled in a unique way that made them either work for me or make sense and be okay. This Mulan story is NOT a retelling of th ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.“We stand toe to toe, nothing but crossed blades between us.”This book is full of things that I don’t normally love: instalove, being on a journey nearly the whole book, more males characters than female characters, and girl disguises herself as boy for reasons... But most of these things is handled in a unique way that made them either work for me or make sense and be okay. This Mulan story is NOT a retelling of the movie in any way, and I loved it! Instead, it is a more true retelling to The Ballad of Mulan, the original source material. It’s so important to me that this was an own-voices told story as well, and it certainly showed in both the telling of the story, as well as the Chinese culture and history being shown in such a loving and lived-in way. The Magnolia Sword really shines with gorgeous Chinese culture, history, and storytelling, but I loved also the inclusivity of gay characters and the breaking of gender norms as well. All of the main and secondary (even the ones we see only briefly) characters are fully fleshed with desires and guilt and insecurities very unique to each individual. At one point we’re introduced to several characters at once, and I was never confused about who was who like I normally am in that kind of situation. The plot is pretty solid and clear throughout the book and it stays pretty suspenseful the whole time. I like that there’s more political intrigue than actual action, and that when there is action that it’s told from the perspective of a martial artist. Ultimately though, this is s personal take of two families in conflict and how the younger generation deal with a destiny they were born into. How this story ends was incredibly satisfying to me personally, and I hope to see more stories told in this way. I was also very much into the romance in this book despite the fact that it definitely has all the makings of an instalove connection (which I pretty much hate as a rule). These characters complement each other so well and the angst/will-they-won’t-they/enemies to lovers dynamic made me very much ship it. Thomas has deftly written a historic, timeless tale that people will recognize, but she also breathes new life into it in light of more current issues. (*Note: I read all of the notes after the book about the history, language, etc. and suggest that other readers do as well. I learned a lot, and it stoked my interest in the subject matter so much!) I recommend this one absolutely especially for fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s (though Japanese, he uses Eastern storytelling techniques similar to those used in this book.) work particularly, also Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, and Star Wars (*cough* Reylo *cough*).
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  • Roxanne
    January 1, 1970
    This was a slow read but ultimately worth it. Every woman has a great deal of experience presenting herself as someone other than who she is, since no girl is ever everything the world wants her to be I really enjoyed the thought out plot and bits of culture that shine through here as well as the family history between Mulan and Kai's family which added a lot to the story. The growth of their relationship is very subtle and although it's a bit more distant than I would like, it was still very sw This was a slow read but ultimately worth it. Every woman has a great deal of experience presenting herself as someone other than who she is, since no girl is ever everything the world wants her to be I really enjoyed the thought out plot and bits of culture that shine through here as well as the family history between Mulan and Kai's family which added a lot to the story. The growth of their relationship is very subtle and although it's a bit more distant than I would like, it was still very sweet. I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jada Schaffer
    January 1, 1970
    This was a twist on the tale of Mulan, one that I have adored all my life thanks to Disney. This book had an incredible amount of Chinese culture and nuance in it, making it somewhat difficult to read if you are not used to their way of speaking. I greatly enjoyed this story and am so excited to start recommending it to my students!
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  • Breanna
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to receive an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book. I really liked it! It moves at a quick pace and is engaging. I like the different twist it takes on the Mulan story. It’s definitely for a young adult reader age group (12+) but I still enjoyed it.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    I see Mulan, I'm buying!But please, please don't break my heart like Flame of the Mist. That book literally just pulled out real historic people's names and guh!! I'm annoyed all over again. PLS BE GOOD
  • Muhemed Masika
    January 1, 1970
    Her sword such a small thingShe did wave sufficeThe ballad of her song was sang in the night of her eveMagnolia was the color left
  • Sarah ✨Proud Ravenclaw✨
    January 1, 1970
    This book has no cover, no synopsis, no anything. But I add to my TBR because, seriously, Mulan retelling. That's all the reason I need.UPDATE: WE HAVE A COVER!!!! And DANG it's good!
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Excerpt!! https://www.hypable.com/the-magnolia-...Just got the newsletter today and omggg I can't wait!! September 10th can't come soon enough.As I've been harping for awhile now into the void that is my Goodreads feed, EVERYTHING Sherry writes is gold so I have no doubts her retelling of Mulan will be amazing.
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