Bronze Drum

Phong Ngyuen

Vietnamese Historical

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.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) We follow two sisters who are living under the oppressive rule of the Han. They are men who believe women are beneath them and the sisters are out to prove them wrong.

Ultimately, this is a novel about love and family. The fact that it is based on a true story is astonishing. The endurance these women had is admirable.

While the story was very slow at times, I could see the importance and the history. I never grew to connect with these women but I admired them for their tenacity. One woman even gives birth on the battle field then sticks the baby in with her arrows and keeps fighting. There were elephants in battle and many aspects of Vietnamese life that were interesting to me.

The writing style left me wanting more. It did not evoke emotion and was often dry. Maybe it was a male author trying to portray females? Or possibly just the way he writes. I tend to connect better to a story and the characters when emotion and adrenaline are felt. Even during battle or birth or deaths, it did not feel different than when I was learning about their education.

Audio Review: I was really happy that I got the audio copy of this. The Vietnamese names and words were so much easier to grasp when spoken aloud. I had the physical copy of the book also and ended up just listening instead. The narrator was great for the language but I would have preferred more emotion and excitement throughout. I feel the writing didn’t allot for much emotion but if the narrator could have exuded more, that probably would have helped with my attention span.

General content summary: little/no language, previously a pregnant woman was mauled and killed by a lion, m/f teen intimacy (few details), whipping as punishment, beheaded as punishment, suicide contemplation, forced marriage, closed door intimacy scene, arrow shot into a lung, arrow death and blood, many deaths and heads given as a threat, whipping, spousal death and grief, children killed (no details), battle and weapons and blood, birth (brief), a large animal is killed and skinned, poisoning death, deaths from a large height (suicide), death by drowning (suicide).

Thank you to Hachette Audio for the gifted copy!

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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