The Dragon Queen by William Andrews
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication: March 6th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
Length: 316 pages
Synopsis: As tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, US diplomat Nate Simon is sent to Seoul to gauge the political situation and advise the president. He also needs to find out why someone sent the president an ancient, intricately carved comb with an ivory inlay of a two-headed dragon. Though familiar with Korea’s language and culture, Nate knows little of its troubled history. Beautiful and mysterious embassy aide Anna Carlson believes it’s time he learns, starting with the extraordinary story of Korea’s last queen.
Seoul, 1866. The beautiful orphan Ja-young is chosen to be the child bride of Gojong, Korea’s boy king. Highly intelligent but shy, Ja-young faces a choice: she can be a stone queen—silent and submissive—or she can be a dragon queen and oppose enemies and empires that try to rule Korea during the age of imperialism. Her choice leads her to forge a legend that will endure far beyond her lifetime.
The more Nate discovers, the more he comes to realize that Queen Min’s story is still relevant today. Now the choice is up to him: be submissive and accepting…or change the world.
Review: I have to say, I didn’t get into this book with many expectations, which probably made me like it more. It wasn’t on my TBR pile, but I snapped a Kindle Unlimited offer at Amazon and I was looking for something to read to make the most of it. The Dragon Queen is a recent release and it was first on the roaster.
The Dragon Queen starts off with a bit of a rushed feeling – initially we follow Nate Simon while he flies to Korea to address an international mysterious package. Once the story of the dragon queen, Ja-young, is tangled into the book, the whole narration slows down a little bit.
In The Dragon Queen, we follow the life of Ja-young. It was incredibly captivating and inspiring for me. Ja-young is an orphan, but we learn more about her background very soon. Married off to a king at fifteen, she learns how to act like a queen and adhere to the strict expectations placed on her while trying to adjust to the new world.
I loved the story picturing this intelligent, young woman navigating in the world dominated by men. She fights against many obstacles, many of them incredibly personal, to become the dragon queen and fight to keep her country safe.
It is a story of a rise in the ranks, since Ja-young was married into royalty, and of hard work. It is, of course, a historical fiction book, but can we agree there is a seed of truth in every historical fiction book? It made my day to read about a historical figure who proves that you don’t need to be born in a position of power to change the world. You need to have an open mind and do your best. With help from others and being in the right place at the right time, you might just make a difference.
While I enjoyed the story, I also appreciate the factual note at the end of the book. The afterword talks about the political situation today and how the story of the dragon queen is still relevant today.
In all honesty, I didn’t know anything about Korean history and I feel that this book brought me closer to having at least a little bit of knowledge. I enjoyed the writing style and this read, in general, made me want to look further into the history of Korea before WWII.
Rating: 5 / 5
Until next Sunday,
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