Bronze Drum

Hachette Audio. Aug. 2022. 11:22 hrs. ISBN 9781668605745. $26.98. F
Narrator Quyen Ngo adds the perfect spark of life to Nguyen’s (The Adventures of Joe Harper) fictionalized account of the highly revered Hai Bà Tru’ng, the legendary sisters who led an ill-fated rebellion against the Han Chinese when they first dominated the Au Lac region of Vietnam in 40 C.E. Ngo adds an air of playfulness between the sisters, who are opposites in personality, and a sense of grandeur to their father and mother, the Vietnamese lord and his wife. The love the two women feel for the men they have chosen is palpable. Ngo’s portrayal of the Han as ruthless conquerors resonates. It is grimace-worthy when the girls’ father and older sister Tru’ng Thac’s husband are beheaded in front of them, then they are banished from the court. Ngo is careful and precise with pronunciations, often caressing selected words and delivering characterizations that are both sensitive and grounded. Her authentic pronunciation of ancient Vietnamese words, names, and places seals the deal.
VERDICT A fascinating peek into life in ancient Vietnam and its matriarchal past, eloquently performed.
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