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Everything Under the Heavens (Silk and Song Trilogy #1)

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  287 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Raised in a prosperous family of 14th century Chinese merchants, Wu Johanna has grown up on camelback, in bustling city marketplaces, and in the cool, shaded depths of Silk Road caravanserai. Hers is a world of spice merchants and pearl divers, bandits and troubadours, servants and sheikhs. A world in which trust is more valuable than gold, and the right name can unlock a ...more
Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published February 13th 2014 by Gere Donovan Press (first published January 3rd 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sep 17, 2014 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, historical
Dana Stabenow writes awesome characters and this book shows off a few more. The problem I had was that the plot felt kind of chopped, with the first half of the book bouncing around for first-hand accounts of background events and the second half ending in an abrupt cliff-hanger just as the adventure gets moving. The whole story just felt a little too concise to allow me to truly empathize with our main characters. Johanna feels a little anachronistic for the setting. She has way more freedom ...more
Lian Tanner
Aug 16, 2015 Lian Tanner rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
I'd have given it another star, but I really really hate major cliffhanger endings. The way I see it, each book in a trilogy needs its own arc and to be a satisfying story in its own right. The trilogy then has a greater arc that covers all three books. Small cliffhanger endings are fine - the sense that the antagonists are continuing to plot etc - but I believe that the end of each book should reach a place of at least temporary calm, so that both characters and readers can catch their breath.

Feb 07, 2015 Clyde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character in this novel is Wu Johanna. She is none other than Marco Polo's granddaughter, born into the family he left behind in China when he returned to Italy. Johanna is an attractive character. Lively and intelligent, she is also a risk taker. When a family crisis makes her position in her home in China untenable, she and a few close companions head west on the silk road. Adventures ensue.
Dana Stabenow obviously did a lot of research for this book. It is well written and I found som
Neil Plakcy
Jun 02, 2016 Neil Plakcy rated it really liked it
Great descriptions and engaging characters but didn't grab me as much as the Kate Shugak books have.
Edward Leventhal
Oct 19, 2016 Edward Leventhal rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chuck Heikkinen
Nov 05, 2016 Chuck Heikkinen rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I was disappointed here - not at all up to the standard of the Kate Shugak novels. The plot to me becomes too thinly stretched across half of central Asia and loses something in the process. Nor is the character development as solid as with Kate Shugak. There is promise here, however, and the story ends tantalizingly.
Susan Ecker
Oct 31, 2016 Susan Ecker rated it it was ok
Didn't believe the characters would behave the way they did, sometimes.
Sep 16, 2016 Patricia rated it it was ok
Go back and read some of the great book series, even look at some of the great movies that manage to do the followups well. You are not writing for TV, this is a book and when I come to the end I want to say that was great writing, I feel good or engaged because I read it NOT oh what am I supposed to do now look for the next in the series that may make me feel as disappointed as I do now.
This is a decently written historical novel that illuminates a fascinating period and place, with main characters that are likeable and reasonably believable despite falling into genre-fiction stereotypes (the plucky resourceful heroine, the two besotted childhood friends, the indulgent parent and other relatives).

Unfortunately, it is somewhat spoiled by cartoonish villains (the wicked stepmother, the guy who lusts after the heroine, etc.), increasingly irritating romantic shenanigans (after ear
Jan 18, 2016 Deb rated it it was ok
I wanted to give this book more stars because there were things I really liked. But for me, the biggest problems were the cliff-hanger ending and the fact that I felt too removed from the characters. I loved the premise and the settings. After 20 years of teaching about the Silk Road, I was excited to read a novel that is based on the caravan life. As a piece of historical fiction, it is very well-researched, and I appreciated the details about food, clothing, and geography. I didn't connect ...more
I didn't think I'd be interested in this book; the subject matter isn't my normal cup of tea. But I was stuck with my phone and a half-hour to kill, and I'd just gotten a newsletter that mentioned the book. I LOVE everything else that Dana Stabenow has written so I got the Kindle free sample chapters to try out. Chapter 1 centers on Marco Polo (yawn) but then Chapter 2 dealt with his abandoned family; by chapter 3 I was hooked. Bought the full book and I am now traveling the Silk Road with ...more
Hannah Cobb
Oct 27, 2014 Hannah Cobb rated it really liked it
Wu Johanna is the granddaughter of Marco Polo, and a lively, risk-taking merchant in her own right. Set in the 14th century against a backdrop of the Silk Road, Johanna's world is one of vast wealth, dangerous power plays, and constant curiosity sharpened by a life of travel. When murder and political upheaval threaten to destroy Johanna's family, she sets out on her own--pursued by assassins and accompanied by a stolen horse, a childhood friend turned bodyguard, and a loyal family servant--to ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Nancye rated it it was amazing
I can honestly say that I love everything that Dana Stabenow has written. At this point I think I have read just about every book by her. I am not someone who reads science fiction, but I loved her Star Svensdotter books. I constantly look forward to a new book in the Kate Shugak series. And now I love her historic fiction. I just read Everything Under the Heavens and cannot wait to read the next book in the series. If you like historic fiction and strong female characters you want to read this ...more
L. (Climbing Mt. TBR one page at a time)
An amiable YA historical based on the not unreasonable supposition that during his decades long stay in Asia, Marco Polo fathered a child. The star of this show is his descendant, Wu Joanna Mary Sue. Joanna has inherited her grandfather's wanderlust. Plus she needs to get out of town fast. With faithful friends by her side, and a deadly assassin on her trail, Wu Joanna sets out upon her own journey to see what lies at the ends of the earth.

Now I can't say there's much action in this quick read.
Feb 19, 2014 Kymm rated it it was amazing
Years in the thinking, hoping, and planning, Dana Stabenow's Silk and Song finally comes to fruition with the first volume of a planned trilogy. I'm a long-time fan of Dana's and I've been waiting for this almost as long as she's wanted to write it, and man oh man, it was worth the wait.

Yes, it's a big departure from her well-known Kate Shugak series, but--but--there's a whole new cast of characters to embrace here. A whole new raft of villains to jeer. Adventure and comradery and chicanery and
Linda Wu
Jun 11, 2016 Linda Wu rated it it was ok
The ending made me so feel so betrayed that I spend the next 24 hours nitpicking the book. All the enjoyment from the rest of the book was utterly ruined by the last few paragraphs of the second to last chapter.

The author could have so easily moved that offensive section into book 2. That would've made book 1 a satisfying stop in the saga. The last chapter would've provided all the foreshadowing necessary for the rest of the trilogy.

I'm not going to bother reading book 2 until there's book 3.
Laz the Sailor
Dec 08, 2014 Laz the Sailor rated it really liked it
Shelves: just-fiction
I love Dana Stabenow's writing. I've read all of her Alaska stories as well as her scifi trilogy. That said...

This is an ambitious story that will play out as a trilogy, but it wasn't as strong in either character or plot as I expected from DS. It was uneven in pacing and intensity. The depth of detail was quite impressive, but didn't really add to the story. As a travelogue, it's fantastic!

So I'm rating it a soft 4-stars out of respect for the author and the belief that the next book will be be
Sharry Miller
Dec 30, 2014 Sharry Miller rated it really liked it
If you loved Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak books, Everything Under the Heavens is a stark departure, but wonderful nonetheless. It's the fictional tale (this book is the first in a trilogy) of Marco Polo's granddaughter on the Silk Road - the setting and characters are as far removed from Alaska as you can get. I had my doubts during the first few long chapters; they're a little slow and take generational jumps in time, but at the end I was exclaiming with exasperation that the book was done and ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Penny rated it it was amazing
This genre isn't my normal "thing". I admit it. I tend towards mysteries and urban fantasy. However, I love Dana, so I finally ordered it to read for an upcoming trip. First chapter was a little slow, hard to get into. By the second chapter I was in China. By the third, Johanna was me. I finished it in less than 5 hours, and even though I KNEW it was to be continued, I came really close to tossing my Kindle across the room when I saw those words. "To Be Continued".
Thanks Dana. Awesome read.
Dec 18, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it
A very good read! The trials and tribulations of Johanna, being a misfit in a very rigid culture with an evil step-mother, prompt her to begin a journey from China to Venice to find her grandfather. Aside from those who flee with her, she collects a motley crew of fellow travelers along the way. The characters are engaging, cultures and customs are fascinating, and adventures and mishaps along the way move the story forward with vigor. I look forward to the next book of the trilogy.
May 25, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A promising start to a new series that I look forward to reading. Set in the 14th century, it tells the story of a Chinese merchant's daughter (and a granddaughter of Marco Polo) who leaves her home after the death of her father to travel the Silk Road. I found the set-up a little slow but the pace picks up quickly when it begins to focus on Johanna's story. It was great fun to read after returning from a recent trip to China.
Oct 27, 2014 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
This was enjoyable though historical fiction is not something I read as a rule.
Thankfully there is a map, even though they are damn inconvenient with e-readers, or I would have had no idea where we were travelling to or from.
It has a cliffhanger ending! Now I know it's the first part of a trilogy, but I HATE cliffhangers! It's just plan mean to end a book that way, if the story is good enough, readers will come back for the next book.
Feb 21, 2014 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seriously Wonderful! My only complaint is that I would love it to be one of those 4 inch thick tomes that you haul around with you. I would love to stumble around, living in Joanna's world, riding a sandy path, smelling the spices in the packs for weeks! Dana, you have outdone yourself and I am holding my breath until the next one!
Jeannie Schwald
Aug 29, 2016 Jeannie Schwald rated it really liked it
Just finished Heavens yesterday. Here's my summary: Wow! Who? Why??? What the heck?! Yum...ooh la la! Sigh. Oh, no! What? Oh, no again! WHAT???!!! Aaaaaaaaggggh! ... Oooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

This is a must-read: Exciting, insightful, fascinating. Now how to wait for the two sequels?

Love the way Dana writes in current English but still evokes the tone of the ancient times.
International Cat Lady
Jan 02, 2016 International Cat Lady rated it did not like it
I really, really wanted to like this book. I've lived along the old Silk Road and visited historic sites along the route... I got about halfway through the book before giving up. It just didn't seem believable or engaging to me in any way. I probably wouldn't have made it halfway in had I not had an interest in the area.
May 14, 2014 Glenna rated it really liked it
I think I have read everything Dana Stabanow has written. All good. This is definitely a departure from Kate Schugak's and Liam Campbell's Alaska books, requiring massive amounts of research. I enjoyed every minute of it and am looking forward to the next installment.
Georgianna Miller
I am a big fan of Dana Stabenow. I found this book to be very different from the Kate Shugak series. I liked the book and am looking forward to the main character, Johanna experiences in the next book.
Bekki Fahrer
Aug 04, 2016 Bekki Fahrer rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This book grew on me. the preamble took far longer than I was expecting, but then the pace changed. Joanna wasn't the protagonist I wanted, but she grew on me. Hell of a cliffhanger.
Anna Ballard
Time Period: 1292
Marco Polo's daughter, who he left with her mother, is now trying to reach her father in the west.
Feb 18, 2014 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Another great read from Dana Stabenow! I can't wait for the next installment of the Of Silk and Song trilogy
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Dana Stabenow was born in Anchorage and raised on 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. She knew there was a warmer, drier job out there somewhere.
More about Dana Stabenow...

Other Books in the Series

Silk and Song Trilogy (3 books)
  • By the Shores of the Middle Sea (Silk and Song Trilogy, #2)
  • The Land Beyond (Silk and Song Trilogy, #3)

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