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Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

Historical fiction

Bronze Drum

by Phong Nguyen

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Quick Take

This epic tale of sisterhood and reclaiming homelands will have your heart pounding in your chest like drums of war.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Forbidden_Love

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Underdog

    Underdog

  • Illustrated icon, War

    War

Synopsis

Gather around, children of Chu Diên, and be brave. For even to listen to the story of the Trưng 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 Trưng Trắc is disciplined and wise, always excelling in her duty, Trưng Nhị 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 Hán Chinese. They are forced to adopt Confucian teachings, secure marriages, and pay increasing taxes. As the peoples’ frustration boils over, the country comes ever closer to the edge of war.

Why I love it

I’m always in awe of writers who can take us back in time with nothing but words on a page.

Phong Nguyen is one of those writers. How many times while reading Bronze Drum did I look up to be surprised that I wasn’t watching a palace under siege? Or a battle of bows and arrows? Many times.

But what makes Bronze Drum a particularly interesting read is its subject matter, one that is not known to many. Bronze Drum takes place in ancient Vietnam when the country was under the domain of China. Ruled by colonial powers, the people of Vietnam were heavily taxed. Meanwhile, their sons were sent abroad to wars that only benefited the emperor.

But two women dared to rebel: the legendary Trưng Sisters. Born into an aristocratic family and witnesses to the violence of the oppressive regime firsthand, the Trưng Sisters armed themselves, built a militia of women, and fought for their nation’s freedom. All this while riding elephants! It’s a seemingly impossible story, but history tells us differently and Bronze Drum takes us there.

Along the way, we come to understand the inner lives of these historical figures as they yearn and love and grieve and pick themselves back up. This is a different type of war novel, one that has a little bit of something for everyone. Whatever type of reader you are, you’re in for a treat!

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View all
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women
The Women
The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade
Spitting Gold
The Great Divide
The Storm We Made
The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard
What We Kept to Ourselves
The River We Remember
The House Is On Fire
Magic Lessons
The People We Keep
The Attic Child
Hester
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
The Nightingale
The Secret Book of Flora Lea
Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?
Peach Blossom Spring
Hang the Moon
Sisters in Arms
The Postmistress of Paris
Summer of '69
All the Light We Cannot See
The Four Winds
Independence
The Library of Legends
The Night Tiger
Queen of Thieves
Pachinko
The Glittering Hour
The Summer Wives
The Great Alone
The Age of Light
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
The Paris Hours
The Golden Hour
Manhattan Beach
The Wonder
The Japanese Lover
The Witches
Saint Mazie
The Marriage of Opposites
Church of Marvels
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
Jacqueline in Paris
Don't Cry for Me
The Christie Affair
Bloomsbury Girls
Bronze Drum