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  • She Who Became the Sun

  • The Radiant Emperor, Book 1
  • Written by: Shelley Parker-Chan
  • Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
  • Length: 14 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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She Who Became the Sun

Written by: Shelley Parker-Chan
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
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Publisher's Summary

The number one Sunday Times best seller 

An absorbing historical fantasy, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor. 

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing. 

In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother's identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness - and rise as high as she can dream?

This is a glorious tale of love, loss, betrayal and triumph by a powerful new voice.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a historical fantasy re-imagining of the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu was the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols, unified China under native rule and became the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

©2021 Shelley Parker-Chan (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Epic, tragic and gorgeous." (Alix E. Harrow, author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January)

"As brilliant as Circe...a deft and dazzling triumph." (Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne)

"A dazzling new world of fate, war, love and betrayal." (Zen Cho, author of Black Water Sister)

"A thoroughly engrossing read with a fabulous, tragic-trickster protagonist.... I've been waiting for a book like this." (Megan Campisi, author of Sin Eater)

"This audacious, brilliant debut is a vivid, original reimagining...immersive storytelling at its finest." (Daily Mail)

"Magnificent in every way. War, desire, vengeance, politics - Shelley Parker-Chan has perfectly measured each ingredient." (Samantha Shannon, author of The Priory of the Orange Tree

What listeners say about She Who Became the Sun

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A Beautiful Blend

It's a rare author that can take on multiple subjects in their first book and make it so that none of them feel out of place or overlooked. History, philosophy, fiction, queerness, Shelley Parker-Chan takes them all and delivers a beautiful blend that has you hooked till the last word.

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beautiful descriptions of desire

understanding and emotion in each step displayed and unraveled characters. enjoy this one !!

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  • Sharon
  • 13-02-22

I liked it but not enough to bother with the rest

These books about ancient Chinese culture and the women that live as men and eunuchs are a bit of a common theme these days. This one adds to the plethora. It's not bad but I won't be in a hurry to buy the trilogy. It just isn't that memorable. It didn't add to my knowledge base and I really didn't care about the characters. If you are interested in the history of China there are many books to choose from, if you want it in fiction form then China by Edward Rutherford may be for you. If you want a book about women that live as men to gain power in a society in which they were/are absolutely disposable then this one may be OK for you.

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  • Sarah
  • 21-03-22

Mixed feelings on this audiobook

I loved the concept of this book and overall feel of chinese antiquity. I wanted to love it more, but by the end I was entirely turned off by the protagonist and some of the writing style. Personally, it seemed to jump around as if parts of the story were missing or had been heavily edited out. However, it was beautifully narrated, and lends itself to the storyline.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-10-21

Breathtaking!!

This was an incredible story narrated beautifully. Usually I lose track during audio books but when I listened to this one, I knew who all of the characters were and it was just a joy to listen to. This has been my favourite audiobook so far.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-07-22

...

I think something went wrong. I seem to have read a different book compared to others.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sc
  • 15-05-22

not as good as reviews allege

started well, then dipped into a very dull few chapters before getting better. repetitive sentiments of fate and who Chu wants to be make her annoying and unlikeable and I had to listen at 1.4x speed as it was just too slow and drawly. glad I got to the end. shame really as could have been really good

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-10-21

Pleasant Surprise

Usually not a big fan of historical reimaginings so I was quite wairy at first. The worry dropped within the first two chapters. Great book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mauricia
  • 16-01-23

Just perfection!

This book is an unexpected gem! Following Zhu’s journey is a true testament of what the mind can achieve. It took me a little while to follow the various people, but i got used to it after the first few chapters. I truly cannot wait for the sequel to this!

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  • Beermonster
  • 23-10-22

Powerful and eloquent

I was pleasantly surprised by this audiobook. The story is beautifully written and at the same time takes you on a some unexpected twists and turns, keeping you slightly off balance and needing to hold on for more. The voice actor is also superb. Highly recommend.

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  • Rosemary Roberts
  • 29-09-22

Persevere, it’s worth it!

I confess that I struggled with the oriental names so only gradually worked out who was who. As this book was this month’s choice in our local book club, I felt I should persevere and I’m glad I did, so much so that I was disappointed when I reached the end.

The reader was a good choice as she gave each character a different voice which undoubtedly helped me sort out who was who, giving the names their correct inflection.

A good story, well worth the effort.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-06-22

Performance let down the book

This book had so much potential, only to be let down by the narrator and the voices. It was like kids doing whining voices. I think the book version would be much better.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-06-22

Great book. Tricky to follow names of characters

Really beautifully written book. Interesting storyline. Hard to follow the names of characters and at times the perspective of the narrative voice as I am unfamiliar with names from that part of the world in that era.

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  • Bree Dennis
  • 21-12-21

Narrator destroys this

The narrator has ruined what is probably a very good book. The excessively American accent with the nasal male voice impersonations are just dreadful. What should be an epic cultural narrative has been hollowed out. Read this book to avoid this experience.

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  • SquirrelDitz
  • 25-12-22

Beautifully written and narrated

A compelling story with expertly crafted prose and fantastic characters. Can't wait for book 2!

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  • Kate
  • 29-08-22

Lost me

The first part was interesting then the second part totally lost me. It was confusing and boring to me.

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  • Zan
  • 17-06-22

.

I enjoyed this reimagining of history. The start of the story grabs you and the ending was very engaging.

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  • Jennifer Robinson
  • 29-04-22

An odd one

Hybrid fantasy x historical fiction with a lot of gender bending. I basically hated the plot...hence not more stars. The narrator did a good job with Chinese names, but I got confused by the voices used for different characters.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-02-22

Great writing, very memorable

This is a great listen if you've been feeling unmoved by what you've been reading / listening to for a while, or you have high expectations for writing quality. It's amazing writing for a debut - evocative and tightly edited so that the pace is always perfect. The main characters are vividly imagined and play well against each other. Fantasy elements exceedingly subtle, treading lightly into genre fiction on a few fine lines. The plot is perfect for keeping the scope intimate at first, and expanding it, and the world building, along with the character growth. Deserves a place on your favourites shelf. Looking forward to book 2!

I wasn't a fan of this narrator in a previous work but I thought she had a lot to offer here and I enjoyed this performance. You could hear the connection to the characters