dragon pearl & tiger honor – yoon ha lee | duology review

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Series: Thousand Worlds #1
Published January 15th 2019 by Rick Riordan Presents
Age Range: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Representation: Korean, non-binary SC, mention of poly relationship


Rating: 4 out of 5.


THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD MIN comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. 

Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.


trigger and content warnings:

Since I’ve never read a middle grade (space) science fiction before, I didn’t know what to expect. Dragon Pearl was excellent. Not only is it a space adventure with ghosts and shapeshifting, it’s filled with deceiving and betrayals. At only 13 years old, Min planet-hopped in search of her older brother, Jun, who went missing despite the dangers or consequences.

Yoon Ha Lee’s writing was easily immersive. There weren’t difficult science fiction jargons that I couldn’t understand. Everything is laid out plain and simple for readers to comprehend. The pacing was just right as well. Something was consistently happening around and to Min. Additionally, in Dragon Pearl, queerness is seamlessly included into the universe with a non-binary side character and a mention of a polyamorous relationship.

Korean folklore played a huge part in the plot. In this world, supernatural beings live amongst humans. At the bottom of the supernatural hierarchy are the gumiho. The nine-tailed foxes are perceived to be deceptive and sly, hence, they often live in secrecy. Never revealing who they are, the gumiho were thought to be extinct, unlike the dragons, tigers and, goblins. Before starting the book, I wondered how the author was going to incorporate Korean mythology into a science fiction book, but I was pleasantly surprised at how perfectly blended the combination was.

Focused on Min’s journey to find her missing brother, there wasn’t any romance subplot which I really liked. I mean, 13 years old Min doesn’t need that need her life. Despite the absence of Jun, almost for the entire book, Min’s flashbacks consisted of fond memories with him just showed how close they were before he left for the space force. Min wasn’t left to her own devices as she made some friends on the way. The friendship was tested due to the circumstances so it was interesting to see how Min navigates in the particular situation. Using her resourcefulness and trickiness, Min managed to surpass all her obstacles.

Overall, a really cool read about a young girl trying to find the truth behind her brother’s disappearance and maybe treason. Yoon Ha Lee has brilliantly woven Korean mythology and space fiction together. I had lots of fun reading Min’s adventures.


Tiger Honor is book two to the Thousand Worlds series. You will be spoiled for things that happened in book one, Dragon Pearl.


Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Series: Thousand Worlds #2
Published January 4th 2022 by Rick Riordan Presents
Age Range: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Representation: Korean-inspired, non-binary MC and SCs


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently, the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honour to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and his assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battlecruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…


A tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, Sebin is consistently reinforced with the idea of bringing honor to the family. Sebin had dreamed of joining the Thousand World Space Forces like their Uncle Hwan. But the day Sebin got their acceptance letter, the family received news that Uncle Hwan was accused of treason and was currently at large.

Though only 13-years-old, the training Sebin went through helped them throughout the whole time the ship Haetae was highjacked. They were tactical and careful while planning ahead. With their keen sense of smell, Sebin was able to sniff out emotions and their nose is basically a lie detector.

Since Tiger Honor happens after the event of Dragon Pearl, readers meet familiar characters like Yi, Min, and Jun. Sebin was awfully cautious of Min, thinking that she was hiding something. It was a little confusing for me at first but I realized that not many people know that Min is a gumiho.

Unlike in Dragon Pearl, the whole book existed on Haetae itself. The characters weren’t exploring new places or discovering new things. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Tiger Honor because Sebin’s a compelling main character whose concept of honor for the family is challenged and questioned.

Within just a day, Sebin had to confront a loved one, question their own beliefs, and challenge their preconceived notions about certain people and things. For a 13-year-old, Sebin was truly mature in their thinking and actions.

I’m glad that Yoon Hae Lee thought of expanding Dragon Pearl. I absolutely adored the standalone as it was, but now that it is part of a series named “Thousand Worlds,” I’m intrigued to see if there will be more books from this setting. It would be interesting for potential releases to star characters of other heritages that can be found in Korean mythology.

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3 thoughts on “dragon pearl & tiger honor – yoon ha lee | duology review”

  1. Amazing reviews, honey! ❤️ You know, I’ve had this book on my radar for a while, but I never know if it will be for me, especially since my relationship with sci-fi books set in space is complicated lol, but you made it sound SO good! 😍 I also love that there are ghosts and shapeshifting 👏🏻, so this one’s going on my TBR!!!! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you, sofi ❤️ hahah i’m not very good with sci-fi either but yoon ha lee has captivated me with dragon pearl and tiger honor. there aren’t much sci-fi-y jargons so that was a plus for me! i hope you’ll like the duology when you get to it~

      Liked by 1 person

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