Camille Picott is the author of many independently-published science fiction and fantasy novels honoring her Asian heritage. The Warrior and the Flower takes us to the fictional World Kingdom and neighboring countries, all based on or inspired by Asian cultures of our world (but with lightning magic).
The magic system was awesome, and the writing was stellar, but I had some problems with the plot. Read on to decide if The Warrior and the Flower is worth your time.
Not offensive to women: 0/1 pts
Unfortunately, main character Yi (the ‘warrior’ of the title) has his wife fridged by the invading army in the first five pages. The ugly head of the this trope rearing up so early in the novel was disappointing, especially in a novel with such strong writing. I stayed with this book in hopes things would turn around, and results were mixed.
Features a woman as a main character: 2/2 pts; Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts
Tulip is the “flower” of the title. She is the daughter of a courtesan name Peony. Despite Peony’s renown, Tulip is a slave to the madam of her brothel and is regularly whipped and made to do hard labor. When Yi offers to buy Tulip out of her situation, her mother is quick to give her blessing, in the hope her daughter will have a better life. Peony thinks Yi wants to take the 8-year-old as a courtesan or concubine, but Yi’s motives are not sordid: Tulip reminds him of his murdered daughter.
This book passes the Bechdel-Wallace test, and as all the characters are Asian-inspired, passes tests for racial inclusion as well.
Do you love fantasy novels? Read our review of Citadel of the Sky here.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts
Camille Picott is a strong writer and her world was really well-built. The cloud and lightning magic was fun to read, and by the end I really wished I had a lightning-eating kirin to ride around on. Learning the way the warring kingdoms have developed ways to combat each other’s magic made the fantasy worlds feel rich.
Little Tulip was a great character. I thought she was a very realistically-written child. Sometimes when adult authors write child characters, it seems like they’ve never met a child before! Tulip was the right balance of precocious and impulsive. She gets into trouble but her innocence also makes her a lot of friends.
The characters’ relationships to the gods, particularly Caifu, the grinning bat-god of luck, was another interesting theme throughout the novel.
Check out our post “Historically Accurate Fantasy” is an Oxymoron.
Above and Beyond General Media = 0/5 pts
I enjoyed The Warrior and the Flower but it had too little representation of women to earn points in this section. To me, female characters fell into tropes. Though there was mention of a conniving Sky Kingdom princess, and though Sky Kingdom had female warriors, we never saw these characters. Even Tulip falls into several tropes. Despite her youth, I would still consider her a “Strong Female Character” trope.
And finally, at the end of the novel two male characters must dress in traditionally feminine garb, makeup, and hairstyles, in order to escape detection. They and the audience are expected to find the very idea ridiculous for such manly men.
The situation was not treated in the same way as, say, Disney’s Mulan, where female dress is also used to escape detection, and in fact a traditionally female accessory (a fan) is used to bring down the enemy who underestimates it. In Mulan, the male characters learn to respect women.
Between the fridging at the beginning, the lack of depth or breadth of female characters throughout, this ending, and lack of unpacking of any of these tropes, The Warrior and the Flower gets no points here.
Now you know what to expect from The Warrior and the Flower. If you think you may be interested in Camille’s work, you can find The Warrior and the Flower on Amazon. Her other series, Sulan, may also appeal. Remember to leave reviews! Your opinion helps Amazon rank books and makes it easier for indie authors to reach readers.
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