Review of Sue Lynn Tan’s HEART OF THE SUN WARRIOR

Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There’s always pressure with a new series (duology) to carry the momentum from the first book into the second. And, historically, the second book is always weaker. (I don’t know why, but it’s a rare example that escapes the mold) Unfortunately, Ms. Tan isn’t an exception to the rule. Which is a shame because I was head-over-heels in love with this world and its characters in Daughter of the Moon Goddess. So much so that I spent ten minutes hunting through the bookstore for this book after they moved it from the original display.

The gorgeous language and descriptions continued, creating a rich tapestry that invites you into this impossible world. Ms. Tan’s gift for artistry with words leaves me in absolute awe. But it wasn’t enough to get me through more than a chapter – two at most – at a time when I devoured the first book at a rapid pace. The tempo dragged abysmally. There simply wasn’t any sense of urgency from start to finish, even given the potential consequences laid out by the plot. Everyone felt unhurried and relaxed, leaving me unconcerned about closing the book and letting it rest for another night. The casual atmosphere was out of place, and I often felt myself looking at other books on my To Be Read pile, wondering whether I should choose a quicker read to fill in my time. The fate of an entire world should not read like a conversation over an afternoon cup of tea!

Worse, though (for me), was the lack of character development. Instead of demonstrating further growth in this second volume, Xingyin remained stagnant. Actually, I even venture to say she regressed into a weak, stereotypical female character more concerned with her love life than the quest laid in front of her. She was so strong and empowering in the first book; it broke my heart to read the constant whining over Wenzhi and Liwei. As for the two male characters – I can’t begin to discuss my irritation. Wenzhi committed an ultimate betrayal, but he’s allowed redemption? (I won’t begin to unpack THAT toxic messaging) While Liwei transforms from a model image to a simpering child? I wanted both of them wiped from the board.

I won’t reveal spoilers here, but suffice it to say the ending – which carries on interminably LONG – was extremely unsatisfactory.

I wanted to love this book. And the descriptive writing, setting, and imagination as so phenomenal. But the crucial elements built upon those structures failed. To say nothing of living up to expectations of the grandeur of the first book. I’m disappointed. And broken-hearted.

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