Even before publication, Daughter of Xanadu was reviewed by 16 bloggers, avid readers who post reviews on their own blogs and/or on goodreads.com. After publication, reviews continued to pour in. Even more reviews have since appeared on amazon.com and goodreads, where Daughter of Xanadu was ranked #1 for six months in "New YA Historical Fiction in 2011."
Daughter of Xanadu was chosen as a featured book for the 2012 list of "Girls of Summer" and reviewed on its website."Daughter of Xanadu is a sweeping story of friendship, war, ambition, and romance in the Mongolian Empire. Dori Yang’s Emmajin is a heroine of ancient times and a shero for our time. History buffs, time travelers, and explorers of the internal and external worlds will love this book."
Another recent review is by The Book Faerie, on Journey of a Bookseller, who wrote of Emmajin: "She's a real independent spirit and I enjoyed traveling with her."
A more academic review appeared on World History Connected, by Professor Timothy May of North Georgia College, author of The Mongol Art of War. He says "the book is a 'good read' and can be useful in a class particularly if paired with Marco Polo's Travels." May erroneously states that the intended audience is "middle school girls" rather than young adults, but still recommends that the novel be assigned by instructors at the high school and collegiate level, for male and female students alike. (True young adults!)
The first video review was posted on youtube by "Violet Crush." She recommended the book as "fun, interesting, and - yeah!" Her video review is here.
Here are links to all independent blogger reviews that have come to my attention.
Susan Coventry of ReadingWorld wrote:
"The book sets the stage marvelously, making an unfamiliar, exotic location into a rich, real world. Marco Polo and "Kublai Khan" are names that I recognize, of course, but have to admit I know very little about. This novel does a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life. Emmajin is an inspiring young woman and her adventures make for a fast-paced, enjoyable read."
Angela Craft wrote on Bookish Blather:
"Above all else this is Emmajin's coming of age story. She's truly learning what it means to be an adult and have to make tough choices and learn new things about herself. Yang has done an excellent job describing 13th century Mongolia, and by including the familiar character of Marco Polo she has a seamless way to weave all of the amazing facts about this setting into the narrative while rarely dragging down the story. A refreshing change of pace from a lot of the historical fiction/romance out there today!"
(Quoted on Joe Weber's posting about book writers trained at Business Week, on his blog "Wide-Eyed Wonder.")
Anni wrote in "Stuff Young People Read":
"This book was hard to put down. I was fascinated with the Mongolian culture, especially from a Mongol's point of view.Usually all we hear is that they conquered various people, and the various people were not happy about it. In this story, we hear about what the Mongolians think, as well as the perspective of others."
Kira M wrote on "Kiss the Book," a site designed to help school librarians:
"Readers who like adventure, historical fiction, and mixture of cultures will enjoy reading this book."
"While being historically accurate and highly entertaining, Daughter of Xanadu is also a thought-provoking novel. It questions the act of waging a war simply because of one man's aspiration to be the supreme world ruler."
Khadija of Black Fingernailed Reviews gave it 5 stars and wrote:
"Daughter of Xanadu is probably one of the most beautifully written and meaningful YA historical fiction books I've ever read. . . . there was never a break in the story where the excitement let up, never a dull moment when I wanted to put it down."
Emilie of Damsels in Regress wrote:
"I enjoyed it as a reminder that the history of the world is not just the history of Europe and North America. Mongolia created a huge empire ... and their civilization was very advanced for the time. Europe, in contrast, was only beginning to come out of the Dark Ages, and it was contact with societies like the Mongols that helped make that possible. We as Westerners often forget that part of history because we would rather read romanticized versions of the Middle Ages.... The twelfth and thirteenth centuries, really, belonged to Mongolia, and it was fascinating to be reminded of that."
Amber of Squeaky Clean Reviews wrote:"Daughter of Xanadu is not squeaky clean, but mostly clean."
John of Dreaming In Books wrote:
"The Mongolian culture came alive for me and I savored every second of it. Mongolian words and robes and festivities have never sounded more delightful than in my reading of this book."
"With its gripping combat scenes, subtle romance, and tangible, full-bodied descriptions of court and military life in Yuan Dynasty China, Daughter of Xanadu will appeal to the international adventurer in all of us. A dynamic and enlightening read for young adults and adults alike."
Sab of YA Bliss gave it 5 stars and wrote about how she hesitated to read Daughter of Xanadu because she knew next to nothing about the Mongol Empire. Reading it changed her mind totally! She concluded:
"As gripping and thrilling as any epic fantasy story, Daughter of Xanadu gives teens the chance to learn history in the most entertaining way possible. . . . Seriously--warriors, dragons, yummy boy, fierce heroine, royalty, heart-pumping romance, battles with elephants... What else can I ask for? This is my first historical MUST READ of 2011."
This novel . . . carries an intellectual weight and a sense of timelessness that is a product both of refined, fluid prose and expert treatment of historical subjects. Yang has managed showcase Mongolian culture in as authentic a way as a modern-day author can while doing justice to themes that any teen today can relate to.”
“The writing in this novel was so artistically done. I felt as if I could touch the grass in the vast open plains. See the marble palace, and fall in the heat of battle. . . . I recommend it wholeheartedly to others and say to them: grab a cup of something warm, a chair and a blanket because you will not want to leave this one.”