She Who Became the Sun | The Fantasy Hive Readalong Week 4

Oh no it is already the last week of the She Who Became the Sun readalong! It was great to read a piece of a book each week and then discuss it through the questions. Thank you so much to The Fantasy Hive for hosting it!

This week the questions are for chapter 18 to the end. Beware of spoilers!

We’ve covered a lot of the big themes of the book over the last weeks, but one that really makes its presence known in this part is desire. Zhu, Ouyang, Ma… they each have different desires but what did you make of their reactions to them?

I think out of all of them Zhu is the one that fully embraces her desires. Her desire of becoming an emperor. Even her desire for Ma was never hidden. She just waited until Ma was ready. Everybody else is more inclined to hide their desires, in some cases as if they are a weakness. Especially Ouyang does that. Which isn’t odd considering his history. But it does make him so much the opposite of Zhu. Contrast.

Has Zhu developed into a full grimdark morally grey character? Do we think she’s lost her way? How does the Zhu who contrived Fang’s dismissal compare with the one that slit the PM’s throat?

Yes she has. I don’t think she nessecarly has lost her way. The prince of radiance never fitted into her long term plans. Neither did the PM. But she is paying a big price for the path that she walks. Where there was an impulse, a youthfull feel to her decisions around Fang for instance to now is that she doesn’t seem to consider if she could still keep someone alive. Death seems to be her first choice for those higher up where I feel like the prince of radiance would have easily stepped aside for her.

And speaking of deaths, how do we feel about Ouyang killing Esen? Did you see this coming?

It was coming. I wasn’t sure if it would happen in this book or a later one but it was coming. While he loves Esen there was no tearing him away from what happened to him. Maybe if Esen had shown more understanding or had been mournful of what had happened to Ouyang’s family, there could have been a different outcome. But instead there was an undercurrent of Ouyang having to be grateful for his friendship. Look at me being better. That never could have stood.

The Mandate of Heaven was an aspect that never gets fully explained. What do you think might be going on here and how important do you think it will be in the next book?

It seems to be very important to the rebels. And it seems that Zhang also has something like that. But how that will fit in exactly I’m not sure. I hope that it will be more important. Clearly it gives Zhu some powers.

So we’ve been skirting around this, but let’s finally address the elephant in the room: is this a fantasy?

The mandate of heaven is kind of making this a fantasy but this book is more focused on the historical setting and what drives these characters. I would put in the historical fantasy bit for myself, but yes the fantasy part is not that strong at this moment.

3 thoughts on “She Who Became the Sun | The Fantasy Hive Readalong Week 4

    1. Ah that is a shame. I had the same thing really which is why I jumped on this. I’m glad I did because I did enjoy this book and its characters.


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