A stunning novel of ancient Vietnam based on the true story of two warrior sisters who raised an army of women to overthrow the Han Chinese and rule as kings over a united people, for readers of Circe and The Night Tiger.
Gather around, children of Chu Dien, and be brave. For even to listen to the story of the Trung Sisters is, in these troubled times, a dangerous act.
In 40 CE, in the Au Lac region of ancient Vietnam, two daughters of a Vietnamese Lord fill their days training, studying, and trying to stay true to Vietnamese traditions. While Trung Trac is disciplined and wise, always excelling in her duty, Trung Nhi is fierce and free spirited, more concerned with spending time in the gardens and with lovers.
But these sister's lives--and the lives of their people--are shadowed by the oppressive rule of the Han Chinese. They are forced to adopt Confucian teachings, secure marriages, and pay ever-increasing taxes. As the peoples' frustration boils over, the country comes ever closer to the edge of war.
When Trung Trac and Trung Nhi's father is executed, their world comes crashing down around them. With no men to save them against the Han's encroaching regime, they must rise and unite the women of Vietnam into an army. Solidifying their status as champions of women and Vietnam, they usher in a period of freedom and independence for their people.
Vivid, lyrical, and filled with adventure, The Bronze Drum is a true story of standing up for one's people, culture, and country that has been passed down through generations of Vietnamese families through oral tradition. Phong Nguyen's breathtaking novel takes these real women out of legends and celebrates their loves, losses, and resilience in this inspirational story of women's strength and power even in the face of the greatest obstacles.
"Bronze Drum lured me in. It's a richly spun, deftly written tale of bravery, legend, and resistance--a compelling read."-- Amina Gautier, author of At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, and The Loss of All Lost Things
Library Journal (07/01/2022):
Nguyen's third novel (after Roundabout) is based on real-life events in 40 CE Vietnam, when the Viet people rose up against the Han Chinese oppressors who were conscripting Viet men, forcing marriages, and levying exorbitant taxes on the populace. When their nobleman father is executed, the Trung sisters, Nhi and Trac, discard their feminine garb and became generals in the fight for independence of the Viet people. By the end of the first month of battle, they are joined by women from all walks of life, from aristocrats to farmers, and the Trung sisters ride into battle astride elephants, brandishing weapons and leading an army of 70,000 women in an effort to free their nation. Eventually the Viet people did regain their freedom and independence from the Han, but not without suffering terrible losses. VERDICT Nguyen's beautifully written novel will be an eye-opener to people who don't know the turbulent history of the Lac Viet and the Han. Readers who remember the Vietnam War, and the part the United States played in it, might come away with a better understanding of the region and its people.--Jane Henriksen Baird
Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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