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Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia Hardcover – April 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—At 17, Ai Ling is past the age when most girls in the kingdom of Xia have married and borne children. The gods, it would seem, have a different destiny in store for her, one that begins to reveal itself when her father travels to the Emperor's Palace and fails to return. Ai Ling is determined to find him and destroy his captor, a corrupt advisor who has unnaturally extended his life by feeding on the souls of others. On her journey, which is rich in action but a little slight on character development, Ai Ling meets Chen Yong, a young man of mixed race who seeks the truth of his birth and faces a variety of predators, both demonic and sexual. Fans of Tamora Pierce's and Robin McKinley's work will enjoy the adventure and strong female protagonist; the Chinese-influenced society and bestiary may also tempt aficionados of Asian culture and media.—Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* If the cover image of a fearless Chinese heroine reminds readers of such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that’s intentional; the story inside will, too. First-time novelist Pon has a screenwriter’s talent for producing a sweeping saga, and in this, the first of two books set in ancient China, 17-year-old Ai Ling faces demons, monsters, and gods as she tries to fulfill her destiny. Frightened after a local man tries to blackmail her into marriage, Ai Ling resolves to journey to the emperor’s palace, where her missing father was last seen. Along the way, she meets the handsome Chen Yong, who is of mixed parentage and on a quest to find answers to questions about his family that have haunted him his whole life. (In the story’s prologue, readers get hints about his origins.) As in most martial-arts movies, the story sometimes takes a backseat to the action, but Pon doesn’t stint when it comes to her characters. Ai Ling is a clever and determined heroine, Chen’s younger brother is a witty teen whose girl-crazy ways transcend the centuries, and even the monsters have dimension. Pon’s writing, both fluid and exhilarating, shines whether she’s describing a dinner delicacy or what it feels like to stab an evil spirit in the gut. There’s a bit of sex here, including a near rape, but it’s all integral to a saga that spins and slashes as its heroine tries to find her way home. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper

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Product Details

  • Series: Silver Phoenix (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061730211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061730214
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association's Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By L. H. on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's possible I'm being more harsh on this book than I would have been if I hadn't read such glowing reviews before hand. Maybe my expectations were too high, so take everything I write in this review with a grain of salt.

The Awesome:

Excellent world-building.

Without giving away a major plot point, I'll just say that reading this book really made me want to hear the story of the Silver Phoenix.

The lead is a kick-butt female with a cool power.

The Not-Perfect:

Throughout the entire book, I didn't really get a sense of who the villain was and what the motivations for attacking Ai Ling throughout the book were; I didn't really feel like we got to know the villain(s) well enough to fear them. I know it's explicitly spelled out for us near the end, but that seemed too late. I think it could have helped tie together some of the events of the book so they seemed less like a series of episodes and more like a complete story.

Ai Ling's power seems to work a little too well for someone who is making it up as she goes along.

The Up-To-Personal-Taste:

I wouldn't call this story romantic in any way. I read reviews that mentioned romance, and so was disappointed to find that though there are two people who have feelings for each other, that relationship is not really explored, and it's left unresolved at the end. I don't hold it against the book that it wasn't romantic, more against the reviews that mentioned a romance that isn't really a *romance.* Unresolved sexual tension? Yes. Romance? No.

All that being said, if a prequel is ever written about the Silver Phoenix I will definitely read it. If more is written about Ai Ling, I'll probably read that too. This book was a nice change of pace from the more euro-centric fantasies I generally read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Gold Star Award Winner!

From the beginning, Ai Ling has lived life differently from most young women in Xia. Born of parents who married for love, she is a cherished only child in a society that prizes sons, educated by her scholarly father and, as she comes of age, the ability to sense the thoughts of those around her.

When her father is called to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams expecting to be away no longer than two months, he leave his daughter with two things: a green jade pendant carved with the character "spirit" and the reminder that she is special beyond the belief held by a doting father.

A woman traveling alone is a dangerous undertaking, but more than three months pass and an opportunistic merchant tries to force her into an unwanted marriage, and Ai Ling knows that she must journey to the Palace herself and bring her father home. Attack by an unknown, dark force brings rescue and a traveling companion in the form of nineteen-year-old Chen Yong, a young man also searching for his father.

It is only after another attack, the counsel of Master Tan, and a glimpse at The Book of The Dead, that Ai Ling truly begins to grasp the enormity of her power and the menace she faces. Joined by Chen Wong's brother, the outrageously flirtatious Li Rong, the three teenagers embark on a pilgrimage that will lead to the gods themselves...and eventually to a confrontation with an evil sorcerer Ai Ling has (unknowingly) faced before.

Where do I start with all the things I love about Cindy Pon's debut fantasy SILVER PHOENIX? Finally, a novel based on Chinese legends and myth rather than the same, tired rehash of Celtic and other western European folklore. I relished Ms.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By YA Librarian on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I received an ARC copy of this book a few months ago and have been waiting to write a review.

Ai Ling is a little different than most girls her age. She doesn't want to get married to a man she doesn't love. She doesn't want to conform to the rules of a married wife which would make her subservient to her husband. However, if she does not marry she will bring shame to her family.

She doesn't have much time to think about her martial status because she must rescue her father. Not only that but she has to fight demons along the way and vanquish a deadly foe that could destroy the entire Kingdom of Xia. While she is trying to save her kingdom from impending doom she meets Chen Young. She feels as a connection with him, but is unsure of what to do about it.

Silver Phoenix is a nice change from your typical fantasy books. The main character is female, and she is strong. She might not always be confident in every choice she makes, but who is? Ai Ling isn't some angry, moody girl running around with a sword out to destroy everyone in her path. She is very human with a lot of emotion.

There is a lot of action in the book too. I've heard it said that female authors tend to write more romance than fight sequences when they write fantasy. This is not the case with Silver Phoenix. There is a ton of action sprinkled with a little romance.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and I think teens who enjoy fantasy will like Silver Phoenix. It has action, adventure and romance. Everything is covered in this novel.

I look forward to reading Ms. Pon's future novels.
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