Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Number of Pages: 394

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Irow Widow is a thrilling Asian fantasy story that follows Wu Zetian as she navigates a world full of giant battle mechs, a military that uses pilot concubines as human sacrifices to win battles, mysterious gods and a roller coaster of emotions, character development, friendship, and coup d'etat. Zetian is thrusted into the role of a corrupt government’s best hope at peace while also being their biggest nightmare.

The Good

 Xiran Jay Zhao’s novel is an amazing retelling of China’s only female Emperor Wu Zetian while creating the new world of Huaxia, a futuristic medieval China. The world building was phenomenal throughout the whole book. Every part of the story was so thoughtfully crafted that I could picture every second of the plot and feel the emotions being portrayed. The characters were ones that we could simultaneously love, hate, empathize with, and root for as needed from cover to cover. I was really worried that this book wouldn’t live up to the hype I saw on social media, especially since I have followed the author for a while on Tiktok. I can confidently say it met and even passed expectations and I am eagerly awaiting the next book.

The Bad

Normally, I have at least one thing to give as a criticism for any book I read. But I cannot bring myself to think of any. I just want more of everything. I want the next book. I want more amazing art like the cover. I want more people to gush about this book to. I just want more. This book was amazing and is one that I will definitely be rereading in the future which is very rare for me to do.

The Favorite (Quotes)

There were so many great quotes I pulled for this but I will exercise restraint and only share a few here.


“And how am I supposed to sign up for my death if my eyebrows are uneven.”

“But a mother who has failed me so thoroughly is no mother of mine.”

“‘You can’t shoot me. I’m from central command!’ Sigma Yi shouts… ‘You can’t shoot me, I’m rich!’ Yizhi slips through the opening created.”

“You are my polar star. I’ll go wherever you guide me.”

“This isn’t his victory. This is my temporary mercy.”

“Perks of refusing to play by the rules: you don’t have to choose between the boy who’d torture a man to death with you and the boy who’d welcome you back with pastries after.”

“Qieluo was right: this is my ass being bitten, right now.”

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