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Bronze Drum: A Novel of Sisters and War


Bronze Drum: A Novel of Sisters and War

The crisp but poetic prose of Phong Nguyen’s BRONZE DRUM resounds with a deep, sonorous boom. It retells the story of Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị, two real Vietnamese sisters who led thousands of women against the conquering Han Chinese. This tale, a riveting work of historical fiction, is one that won’t be easily forgotten.

"This tale, a riveting work of historical fiction, is one that won’t be easily forgotten."

When the novel opens, Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị are two young noblewomen who expect their lives to be much like others of their class. The Han invaded several generations before and have uncomfortably imposed their customs on all aspects of life in Lạc Việt. As the sisters grow up, they learn more about the discomfort simmering under the cover of an uneasy peace in their family --- and the lands they rule.
As the conquerors’ tyranny grows, the lives the ladies wish to lead seem to be increasingly impossible. Each has her distinct character flaws. However, as they mature into women, the once-reserved Trưng Trắc is able to open her heart and mind to others, while emotionally driven Trưng Nhị learns the ways of wisdom and consequence.
The unease grows in their lives until one final tipping point arrives. Once an emotional bombshell wrecks the world as they know it, the seemingly fine line between submission and rebellion explodes into tiny fragments. The sisters not only must lead the women of Lạc Việt against the Han, they have to figure out how to pick up the pieces of their own shattered lives --- and live not just for themselves, but for their people.
Nguyen vividly paints portraits of compelling characters in both Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị. Their journeys to maturity are intriguing and relatable, juxtaposed as they are with the worsening political situation in the kingdom, and the perfectly set pace makes the catalyst for rebellion that much more poignant. This is not just rebellion for abstract reasons as in some novels. The sisters’ own conflicts are inextricably intertwined with their fight for justice, making each loss and victory resound like the beat of a bronze drum. This book is not to be missed.

Reviewed by Carly Silver on September 16, 2022

Bronze Drum: A Novel of Sisters and War
by Phong Nguyen

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538753707
  • ISBN-13: 9781538753705