Book Review: Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

Daughter of Xanadu cover imageEmmajin chafes at the restrictions that would keep her from joining the army. Her grandfather is the Great Khan Khubilai, and she would like nothing more than to please him with her skills at archery. Instead of spending time with her mother and sister, Emmajin practices with her cousin Surin, the oldest male grandchild of the Great Khan and his expected successor one day.

Emmajin’s normal way of life changes, but not in ways she expects. First, she meets a foreigner who brings gifts to her grandfather from a land far away. His name is Marco Polo, a merchant accompanying his father and uncle from Venice. The Great Khan wants her to spend time with him and gain his confidence, so she can learn more about the place he is from and how the Mongols may conquer it. Then Emmajin is accepted into the army and sent on a campaign to the far reaches of the empire. Suddenly Emmajin questions everything she believes she knows about herself and her people, as she finds herself becoming more and more interested in the round-eyed foreigner.

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang is a sweeping tale of adventure and romance that fascinates with its descriptions of life in the Mongol court of the Great Khan. Emmajin is a brave character who is not afraid to go after what she wants or change her mind once she sees her dream is not what she thought it was. Through her eyes we see the magnificence of the Khan’s empire, and we also see a hunger to know more about the lands beyond it. She knows her interest in Marco Polo is forbidden; yet she is determined to find a way for the two of them to be together. While Emmajin herself is a fictional character, many of the people and events around her are not, and the events make for great historical reading.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review.

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