Book Reads: The Celestial Kingdom Duology (Sue Lynn Tan)

April 03, 2024

The Celestial Kingdom Duology, authored by Sue Lynn Tan, is composed of two books, entitled Daughter of the Moon Goddess (book #1) and Heart of the Sun Warrior (book #2). Both books were published in 2022. Daughter of the Moon Goddess was included in the Goodreads Choice Awards for that year, nominated for Best Fantasy and Best Debut Novel.

Both books are set in the Celestial Kingdom world, with Xingyin as the heroine of the story. She is the daughter of Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess, and both books follow her adventures around the Celestial Kingdom. Xingyin resides on the moon with her mother. Unknown to her, her mother has hidden her very existence from the Celestial Kingdom. When Xingyin starts to discover her powers as an immortal, this power is detected by the Celestial Empress, leading to the need for her to escape her residence and leave her mother behind. Plunging into the Celestial Kingdom as an unknown girl, she discovers the world outside of the moon and crafts an adventure of her own that leads her to love, victory, and danger as well.

I discovered the books while browsing the Kindle Unlimited library. Intrigued by the title and artwork, I sought more information about the book on Goodreads and was drawn in by the positive comments about the novel.

As I delved into the first book, I was hooked and enthralled following the beginning of Xingyin's adventures. Her discovery of her powers is detected by the rulers of the Celestial Kingdom, who, she later learns, are the people who exiled her mother to the moon. Since no one knew of Xingyin's existence, she has to run for her life when the Celestial Empress decides to visit the moon after the unusual shift in energy is detected there. Escaping via a cloud, she then plunges into the Celestial Kingdom below and lands in the palace itself. There, she learns more about her family's history and all the kingdoms below the moon. Of course, she meets the prince, and their enchanting love story begins there.

One of the captivating elements of the book for me is the rich world-building that the novels achieve. All the imagery given about the castle, the different kingdoms, and the magic that each possesses makes the novels worthy of being adapted into a live-action drama (Netflix, are you reading this? 😉). I also love our heroine, Xingyin. She's like Alina from the Shadow & Bone Trilogy—strong and independent. I also liked the love triangle in the story. Xingyin is certainly not a damsel in distress; she does not allow herself to be like that, but the men in her life intervene when the need arises. And finally, can I mention how Sue Lynn Tan resolved that love triangle? It's the best one for me in recent memory. I mean, how can you not love that ending? As I reached the last page of the second book, my heart was bursting with love; it ached so much.

I saw this artwork after reading the books. And I must say, these were exactly how I imagined the characters to look like. 😍 (📸:, art credit: Arz28)

There are also lessons about life in these novels. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “You’ll never grow if you only do what you’re good at,” she had said. “The most difficult things are often the most worthwhile.”
  • Those most trusted could still let you down.
  • One could not achieve all he had done without a certain ruthlessness.
  • Everyone has their own troubles; some lay them bare while others hide them better.
  • Titles are inherited, talent might be blood-bound, but true greatness lies within.
  • "Our paths were forged from the choices we made."
  • Could we truly hate those we had loved before?
  • Perhaps those who brought us greatest joy, also wielded the power to inflict the most suffering.
  • Every hero is a villain to the other side.

              Of course, they're not perfect novels (for me, at least). There were lots of story arcs, and I feel like there's always a new conflict on the horizon that they always had to face. And oh, those plot twists. I'll leave it at that. 😅 Since there were a lot of subplots, there were also a lot of characters introduced. For me, some of the characters were not fully established. I wanted to know more about them, about their backstory. But, well, maybe since this is just a duology, there's no really time to give their characters more depth.

              Despite those points of critique, the love story, being a central force of the novels, was very satisfyingly woven into the story. It's a love story set in a rich world based on Chinese mythology. With that, I'm very glad that I grabbed these titles! If you're into Asian historical romance stories, this duology is for you. Go explore and get lost in the magical world crafted by Sue Lynn Tan. 💖 Thank me later. 😜

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