Series: Once Upon A Time
Publisher: Simon Pulse (2009)
Paperback (199 pages)
Also by this author: Sunlight and Shadow, Winter's Child
Also in this series: Snow, Water Song, Sunlight and Shadow
Reading Challenges: 2016 Backlist Books, 2016 Re-Reading, 2016 Retelling Challenge, 2016 Royal Challenge, Read 2016
Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.
But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?
Wild Orchid is a retelling of The Ballad of Mulan. We all may be somewhat familiar with the story of Mulan thanks to the Disney movie. This retelling, however, I closer to the original tale while at the same time being something different.
Mulan’s father was a great general in the Chinese emperor’s army. He won the right to choose his own bride and picked Mulan’s mother. While Mulan’s father was away at war, Mulan’s mother died give birth to Mulan. Mulan’s father did not return home.
Due to the absence of her father, Mulan grew up differently from most Chinese girls at the time. With the help of her best friend and neighbor, Li Po, Mulan learns to read, write, ride horseback, shot a bow, and use a sword as well as the typical feminine skills of embroidery and cooking.
When Mulan’s father returns home, he is wounded. Shortly after this, Mulan’s father remarries and then the Huns invade. The emperor calls for one man from each family to serve in the army. As Mulan has no brothers, it falls to her father to answer the emperor’s summons.
However, Mulan will not let her father go to war with a still healing wound and a new pregnant wife. Mulan decided to take his place in the army, stealing his horse to do so. Mulan is thinking only to spare her father and hasn’t thought farther ahead than that. The tale follows as Mulan enters the army, proves herself as a boy would, and goes to war.
In all, it isn’t terrible different from the original story or even the Disney movie. I enjoy Wild Orchid because it isn’t a typically retold fairy tale. It is non-European for one and it is one tale that shows girls can be just as strong, if not stronger, than boys. The story is delightful and a quick read.