A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix: Remixed Classics Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
"Emily Woo Zeller offers an exciting narration of this sapphic TREASURE ISLAND retelling with Asian characters." -Audiofile Magazine
This program features an author's note, read by the author
Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.
1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.
But the pendant's true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang's father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool's journey.
Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 6 minutes|
|Narrator||C.B. Lee, Emily Woo Zeller|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 07, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #182,061 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#106 in Teen & Young Adult Asian Historical Fiction
#155 in LGBTQ+ Romance for Teens
#343 in LGBTQ+ Literature & Fiction for Teens
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2021
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While the other characters were not developed quite as much, they were not left as stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs. Indeed, Lee went against the grain with many characters, not the least of which is the fact that the notorious pirate, the one who united all of the smaller pirate groups and took on the emperor, was a woman. Then to learn, in the afterward of the audiobook, that she was an actual historical figure was amazing.
Of course, there is still the filial pressure that is so culturally important, and the relationship between Xiang and her mother, with Xiang's desire to make her mother proud yet having no idea how to attain it, drives so much of what Xiang did.
With as much fun as this retelling was, I do hope that Lee writes more retellings of the classics, seating them in different cultures from the original as this one was. It colors the story so differently and enhances the original story in a wonderful way.
For this novel, I also had a chance to listen to the audiobook, which was narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. Her performance was great, and I appreciated listening to someone who knows how to pronounce the names and various Mandarin and Viet words that were used. The short section when Anh translates the poem Xiang is talking about into Viet was wonderful to listen to; it definitely would have short-changed the story to have it narrated by someone who couldn't speak those languages themselves.
The book is about a young sailor, Anh, who has heard about the story of the Dragon Fleet and their missing fortune her entire life. The Dragon Fleet once ruled the seas as a pirate collective that merchants paid to be left alone by the government. The Dragon Fleet, in my opinion, was providing a service because the government was not providing protection or allowing those who wanted to work a fair chance to make a living. The Dragon Fleet was said to have amassed an incredible fortune under their notorious female leader, feared throughout the seas. The missing treasure seems to have been a fable with no one able to find it and a missing map that no one knew existed.
The main character, 16-year-old Xiang, hooked up with Anh, her family and an additional motley crew. Xiang and Anh were two remarkable young ladies who both excelled at various tasks. They seemed to be hooked at the hip from the very beginning of their journeys together. Xiang desperately wanted her mother's approval and to see more of the world than the small village where she had been raised by her tutor and caregivers who loved her. Her overprotective mother tried to control her life. Her father, she thought was dead at sea before Xiang was born. When the chance comes, Xiang proposes to come along with her merchant mother and learn the trade of the tea houses her mother runs in Canton. Xiang is determined to prove her worth to her mother and herself. She was captivated by adventure. On her first day in the bigger city, she ends up meeting Anh and is caught up in her, disappearing for the entire day and coming home without the only thing of her deceased father's she has ever owned, a small pendant. Anh was much more sophisticated and street smart. The next day, when the teahouse and her dreams of working with her mother go up in flames, Anh returns with the pendant and a shocking reveal - inside is part of a map and a poem that seems to lead to the fabled treasure.
Xiang was mad at Anh for taking her beloved pendant, but she had to get over it quickly. Seeking to prove to her mother that she has what it takes to make it on her own. She escapes the marriage her mother is determined she will enter into for her own selfish reasons. Xiang takes the map and heads out with Anh and her crew to seek treasure and fortune. Xiang knew from the beginning that she had no desire to be stuck in a loveless marriage with an older man. What she finds with Anh and her family is much more appealing and wonderful than she could have anticipated.
I was surprised about the little stories introduced in the book of the bigger story. I think that the author did a good job introducing the characters and individual stories about each character. This was such a riveting tale of pirates, fortune, found family, and high seas adventure. A new story with ties to the original, I was riveted with Xiang, Anh, and their journey. Anh taught Xiang so much and Xiang appreciated it all. Both were compelling characters, and although most of the book is told from Xiang's perspective. Xiang felt like she was not loved or seen by her mother. I had problems trying to determine whether her mother loved her. After a while, I think that Xiang figured out that she could make it outside of her mother’s money and her upbringing. Xiang and Anh began to grow in new ways during the story, and I loved how their time together helped them each evolve and come into their own.