“The gardener nurtures every seed, though some grow thorns and some grow poison.”
A bronze drum is an instrument of war in ancient Vietnam, its beat would message to soldiers which formation and direction in which to proceed. This story tells us of the Trung sisters of Chu Dien, an ancient kingdom within Vietnam. We learn of the sisters being raised under Viet traditions, where they are properly educated and given pretty free reign over their lives for women of their time. When the Han Chinese begin encroaching on their ways impressing upon them traditional women’s roles, Confucianism and taking their men to fight in Han’s wars, the sisters begin to plot how to fight back. Trung Trac is strongly willed, spending her days on military strategy and training while her sister Trung Nhi is also well educated but more free with her thoughts and emotions. Together they form the largest female army the world has ever seen and work to overthrow the Han’s by any means necessary.
I learned a lot about Vietnamese culture and history via this story. The ferocity and honor of these ancient people was beautiful. Their reaction to being colonized was one of fierce independence and an iron will to keep their ways and culture. I loved seeing women in these roles, literally fighting tigers and going to war while pregnant. I also liked that we got an entire section after the war to really understand the long term impact and that just because you can win a war does not mean peace and prosperity will settle easily. I will say that the writing is a bit challenging at times, I was invested in this new to me story and history so I pressed on but I feel like the actual delivery of the story could have used a little more polishing. It was much more of a story telling than being immersed in a story where you experience each moment. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley for advanced access to this novel. All opinions above are my own.
Who’s your favorite drummer?