Thursday, March 23, 2023

‘Feather and Flame’ Review: A Brilliant Edition to Mulan’s Story

BOOKSBOOK REVIEWS'Feather and Flame' Review: A Brilliant Edition to Mulan's Story

Bestselling author Livia Blackburne brings us Feather and Flame, the second installment in Disney’s The Queen’s Council series. This new series reimagines the stories of some of our favorite Disney princesses and the very real historical settings behind their stories while also keeping the Disney magic alive in the mysterious Queen’s Council. They advise these young female rulers throughout history. Feather and Flame sees Mulan living in her home village a few years after the war against the Huns. It’s 206 BCE-900 CE during the Han and Tang Dynasties, and Mulan finds herself leading her own militia of women quietly away from the prying eyes of the Imperial City. Aware that his time is near, the aging Emperor names Mulan as his heir to the throne shortly before his death. Mulan suddenly finds herself as the Warrior Empress, leading the people of China as they fight to keep power from falling to the Huns.

Blackburne’s exquisite writing brings Mulan and ancient China to life in the reader’s mind. While we all know the story of Mulan and her selfless act to save first her father and then her country, Feather and Flame solidifies Mulan as multifaceted character as she finds herself faced with the daunting task of leading a country. As the first Empress, Mulan is full of self doubt as her advisors imply she’s less than equal to the task. Mulan undergoes a transformation as the story progresses, learning to trust herself and her own abilities by the end of the book. She begins her tale timid but willing to take on the task and steps fully into her destiny. Mulan’s story is punctuated with new characters that are sure to become fast favorites for any reader. She’s also joined by some familiar faces including Shang, who is now her minister of war. As she fights treachery from within and the threatening army at the border, Feather and Flame feels true to Mulan’s fierce story, the history of her time, and the reality of what a new Empress would face as she stepped into her power.

This wouldn’t be a tribute to Mulan without the inclusion of a battle scene or two and Blackburne delivers. From combat training, military strategy, and outright fighting we’re once again reminded of the incredible leader and warrior that Mulan becomes. This story will remind us all that women are multi-faceted beings capable of compassion and tenderness as well as ruling an empire.

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Rebel Rose, the first installment in the series, relied heavily on the mystery surrounding the Queen’s Council and the mysterious ways it operated. In Feather and Flame, that intriguing plot line is explored in more depth as Mulan is in need of their help. Readers are introduced to more of the Council as well as a deeper understanding of how and when they come to a ruler’s aid. The fascinating twist on the classic tales while also remaining historically accurate to each Princess’ period.

Feather and Flame will be available online and in bookstores February 1!

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