Review: Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

Title: Bronze Drum

Author: Phong Nguyen

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Published: August 9, 2022

Pages: 384

Format: ARC from Grand Central Publishing, Thank you!!

Goodreads Blurb

“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.”

My Review

I was excited to read this book because it was about strong Asian women! I didn’t know anything about the historical significance and was excited to learn more about it. I’ve been reading much more historical fiction lately.

This book started so interesting and with a lot of drama! We are learning about their childhood and the hardships they go through. The sisters are not close and it was interesting to see their journey on how they come back together. Both of them are so different but work so well together. There are so many strengths that complement each other.

The romantic relationships that Trung Trac and Trung Nhi have are interesting and I understand them. The problem was that I didn’t feel them. I didn’t feel a lot of things in this book. There are so many huge moments that should have had impact and I didn’t feel much. This story is told to me and it made it slow and a bit dull at times. All the characters were so flat and one-dimensional that I had trouble connecting with them.

The beginning of the book had me, for sure. Once we get to the middle through the end, I was struggling. There are a lot of interesting cultural aspects but it felt like I was reading a textbook and not a work of fiction. My impression was this is about two sisters coming together to protect their people. Most of this book is about their relationship struggles with their men and each other. We finally get to the point of the book and it’s extremely rushed. I would have loved that part to have more detail. It didn’t lend to any emotional attachment!

Overall, I appreciate what this story was about and its significance to history. I just don’t think the author did a great job executing it. The characters and overall story felt bland and I didn’t get attached to any of it. I still enjoyed all the cultural aspects and learning about some of the histories, it’s really interesting!

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an ARC to review. All opinions are my own!

5 thoughts on “Review: Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

  1. Oh no, what an absolute bummer that the execution of this fell short! 😩 I’ve been looking forward to this one cos it sounds fantastic but I hate when endings feel rushed and you don’t end up feeling the emotion of the story. Especially when it’s historical fiction like this, I feel like the emotional aspect is always so important. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was so bummed too. Dini, I struggled. It was so flat and the characters had like no personality and felt so one-dimensional. I would recommend you to pass on this one. 😦


  2. Pingback: September Wrap-Up! | Books Are The New Black

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