Thirteen Orphans (Breaking the Wall, #1)
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Thirteen Orphans (Breaking the Wall #1)

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  701 ratings  ·  113 reviews
As evocative and moving as Charles de Lint’s Newford books, with the youthful protagonists and exciting action of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasies, Thirteen Orphans makes our world today as excitingly strange and unfamiliar as any fantasy realm . . .and grants readers a glimpse of a fantasy world founded by ancient Chinese lore and magic.

As far as college freshman Brenda Morris...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Tor Books
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Read from 11/27 to 12/2. Great idea for a story that's marred by the fact that most of the book consists of people sitting around in a house and talking about what they ought to be doing.
Conflict in the lands born from smoke and sacrifice spills over into the world of college student Brenda Morris, who learns that she is heir to Rat - Rat being one of the twelve signs of Chinese zodiac. All houses associated with these signs have been exiled into the here and now. Their descendents live mostly in the United States. Lots of spells and magical powers, but explanations of same left me bleary-eyed and wishing characters would just get it over with.
I was all set to give Thirteen Orphans 3 stars. Even though it had a lot of flaws, it kept me interested and entertained. However, I downgraded it because of the way it ended. Rather, I downgraded it because of the way it stopped rather than ended. It was as if someone had taken a bigger book and just arbitrarily chopped it in half. I can't even call the ending a cliffhanger, it was just a non-ending. It may have been the worst non-ending ever.

As I said, up until the non-end, Thirteen Orphans wa...more
Lisa Grabenstetter
I abhorred this book.
The premise was interesting, but Linskold managed to destroy it utterly.

The pacing was snail-slow, the dialogue choppy and unrealistic. Lindskold seems to think we need every present character to repeat every new plot revelation, which means basically the same line three or four times over. This is the first book I've ever read where I actually had to skip portions of dialogue just in order to stay motivated enough to read more.

Worse, she takes what could be a story populat...more
Like _The Silver Ship and the Sea_, this book is half a book's worth of content in a whole book's pages. I wanted to like this book, since much of it takes place in the Bay Area and I love the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, but so little happens and there's a lot of talking and hanging out. It was bad enough that even one of the characters in the book got bored of it! That should have told the author something.

There were only five action scenes (one at the beginning to fool you), and t...more
This has a great premise - magic, alternate version of ancient China called the lands of smoke and sacrifice, the thirteen beings who escaped this world and whose heirs eventually found their way to various parts of the U.S. Suddenly,these thirteen who are each associated with an animal from the Chinese zodiac and who perform magic spells using elements from their own personalized Mah Jong sets, are being attacked and having their memories stolen. Of the original 13, only 4 remain - two who have...more
The concept of a maj-jong based magical system is intriguing, but the execution is rather dull in this book, the first of a series I don't think I'll be finishing. The ensemble cast spend most of the book sitting around talking, speculating, and working on their spells. I like to play games, but I don't like to read pages of details of mah-jong rules, tiles, and special plays, which are sprinkled heavily through the book. The final third makes up for all the discussion with a series of exciting...more
Duality: that is something that this book revolves around more than any other theme. And in that sense, it is very successful. Brenda Morris never knew about a specific aspect of her father's past until it attacked them, and she is thrust into a world where 12 descendants (plus one emperor), each identified under a specific Zodiac sign, are under attack from an unknown enemy. We follow Brenda as she learns of her inherited past and fights to regain what was stolen.

The book switches POV, though i...more
Laura Jennings
This kind of book is the only one of its kind, and I specifically sought it out because it was about the Zodiac. Video games use Zodiac archetypes in spades; literature not so much. And my God, was this a chore to get through.
The ratio of story to author-trying-to-convince-you-that-no-really-this-world-could-totally-work is about 10% to 90%. The concept in and of itself is not interesting enough to BE the story, and it is. If you've ever had somebody describe how awesome their idea for a D&D...more
Two elements of this book attracted me: the author (who wrote "Through Wolf's Eyes" and its sequels, which I love), and the relation to Chinese Mythology. I was slightly wary, as the moment I saw the title I knew it related to the Chinese zodiac, and feared clichéd-ness. Granted, there have been some brilliant stories related to the zodiac, but it's still been done a lot. Also, the plot sounded very cliche. Still, I loved what I'd read of this author's works so far, so I gave it a shot.

All in al...more
The first of Jane Lindskold's books I read was Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, which, as best as I can recall, a friend loaned to me. I was attracted by the title and entranced by the strange, quirky story within. (One of my goals for this year is to reread the book; I hope I love it as much on a reread many years later.) From then on, I kept an eye out for Lindskold's books. Some I passed on, some I loved (Changer and Legends Walking particularly and I wish she'd write more in that unive...more
This was a decent if convoluted urban fantasy. It features Brenda, a part-Chinese college student, who learns that her father is one of a magical "Thirteen Orphans", going back to Chinese mythology & ancient history; the powers are inherited by one person in each family. The Orphans are named for the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac (plus one, The Cat) and they use a mah jong board in their magic. They immigrated to America a couple generations ago, to avoid assassination attempts from peopl...more
Ryan Mishap
Whizz bang! No pondering, no nuance, and the plot reads like a Dungeons and Dragons game--we all know how fantasy books go, right? Not this one.

This is a long haul book. Where we get a plot that unfolds rather than explodes. Where characters have an interior life that isn't solely focused on the immediate predicament. Where the history that makes the new world created by the author is complex and not explained all at once. You can click on the book title and get the gist of the story, what I'm...more
Jane, the author, contacted me to let me know her book was out. I had heard her read part of this book back in August and really enjoyed the story, when I didn't have any background information.

So far, this is a great read! It's hard to put the book down.

Thoughts on final read: While this is a fantasy book, the storyline weaves everyday people into interesting themes-this one centered around the game of Mahjong. There were some great clues and foreshadowing in the book. I really thought certain...more
What started out as a promising take on Chinese myth turned out to be....a little boring. The beginning of the book totally had me hooked. The mah jong tiles were cool, the fact that the Chinese zodiac was based on wizards who were exiled from a faraway mythical land and passed their powers on to their children, the whole mysterious attacks on the descendants of said zodiac. All very cool. However, somewhere in the middle...something slowed way down. Even the characters commented on the inactivi...more
This book was excellent! I haven't read many stories like this that so fully integrate another culture (Chinese/Lands of Smoke and Sacrifice). The story was carefully crafted and the explanation (which was a LOT) and back story required were seamlessly woven into the tale.

I have already looked into purchasing the next in the series - The Nine Gates. It appears that the minor love story will be picking up in the next book. It was refreshing to have characters that didn't jump into bed with one a...more
Aug 05, 2009 Jag rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lindskold fans
Shelves: fantasy
Not one of Lindskold's best, but not her worst. It's what I would call a fairly average story that gets dragged down by lectures.

The characters are enjoyable enough, though at least one of the enemies is a bit of a caricature. What mostly bogs the story down is that you have characters constantly explaining things. At times the story can read more like a crafting manual than a novel and it gets tiresome.

Get it from the library, buy it if you love it.
Two and a half stars.

I love big and diverse cast of characters, I love stories that are based on the Chinese zodiacs, and anything that has to do with kung fu and Asian mythologies. Imagine my excitement when I found Thirteen Orphans—a book that promises me all of the above. Unfortunately, by the time I finished this book, I strongly believed that there should be a legit rule that bans Westen authors from churning out Oriental fiction, anything with a narrative that tries to pass off as points o...more
It starts out a little slow. There's lots of explanations about maj jong and how its connected to magic. If you've played maj jong (not solitaire) you'd probably enjoy this book.

This book is an introduction for what's coming next. I hope the next one moves a little faster.
Chinese Zodiac, Mahjong, fantasy and magic: Thirteen Orphans contains all these things, in a unique blend of page turning fiction. One of my favorite book sale discoveries, it is definitely a great read for those literary fans who love out of the box tales. The story follows 19-year-old Brenda Morris, who was living a comfortable college life, when a man attacks her father, and alters his memories. Brenda soon discovers her father is a descendant of 12 outcasts from the Lands Born from Smoke and...more
Well, finished the book last night

Grrr -- now we have to wait for the next book!!!
What a nice book! It's clearly urban fantasy, but not of the kick-ass kind. Although there is enough ass-kicking going on, it is not of the Harry Dresden kind. Which is all to the good, as far as I am concerned. The magic is nicely original with its oriental shape. I'll admit some of the mahjong details went over my head, but fortunately it was not really important to be able to follow it. I liked very much that the crew was so mixed. Both in race, in gender, and in age. And they were properly m...more
Brenda Morris.

Just a young college student her way home for the summer. Her father picks her up, they'll stop by and see an aunt and an old friend, summer will be painfully normal and relaxed, right?

Wrong. For the same day that her father picks her up from school, Brenda learns that her father is a practitioner of magic facilitated by the game of mahjong and the Chinese zodiac...

As many, I think everyone who I've seen write a review for this book has said, the working of the magic and the con...more
Jane Lindskold has created a complex world and I love it. I enjoyed the connections to mahjong and the zodiac animals. I also loved the magics that could be done using the game pieces. I found myself playing mahjong on the computer more often just so I could see the tiles more and understand the look better.

The view point switches many times throughout the book without being confusing. Usually it's between Pearl, an old child actor & the Tiger, and Brenda who will one day be the Rat. Brenda...more
This is an engaging, action-filled book. It is neither as reflective, nor as deep, as her book "Child of a Rainless Year." While this is only the second book of hers that I have read, I find her characterizations of older women more real than her characterizations of younger ones. There are several passages involving Brenda, a nineteen-year-old, that feel false, which is too bad as she should be a wonderful character. The most engrossing passages involve Pearl Bright, a former child star now in...more
This is a YA readalike for the Percy Jackson/Kane children series, in my opinion. Same storyline of modern kids (in this case a 19 year old and a 20-something dude, but they really feel teenagery) suddenly discovering they are part of a mystical/magical race and they suddenly have to learn all this magic to protect themselves from the magical danger threatening the world that only they can stop given their unique heritage - except it centers around Chinese mythology and mahjong magic. BUT, there...more
It took me a week to read to read this book, which for me is a ridiculously long time, especially since I really liked it. It is fantasy set in our world, where the characters are the descendants of an ancient China- like universe that they call ‘the Land Born from Smoke and Sacrifice.’ Brenda and her friends’ forefathers were exiled here after an imperial coup, they were magic users whose magic system -- at least here-- is based on the Chinese zodiac and mah jong. Brenda’s father is the Rat, bu...more
The folklore of the British Isles, and of Western Europe in general, is well-trodden ground in fantasy fiction. So, when I heard that Jane Lindskold had begun a series based on Chinese mythology, I was eager to read it. It would be something fresh and unusual, and I’ve greatly enjoyed Lindskold’s writing in the past.

Thirteen Orphans is the first novel in the Breaking the Wall series, which I would classify as “old-school urban fantasy.” The phrase “breaking the wall” comes from the game of mah-j...more
Rena McGee
Breaking the Wall:Thirteen Orphans is the start of a new series by Jane Lindskold, author of The Firekeeper Saga and Lord Demon (co-written with Roger Zelazny) among many other novels. It’s an urban fantasy of the “magic is known to be real to a select few” variety with “people from the universe next door” as protagonists. It’s using a primarily Chinese and other Asian mythologies, though it’s also clearly indicated that other magical systems/mythoi also exist. (Culture appears to define Percept...more
One hundred or so years ago, thirteen refugees fled into this world from The Land of Smoke and Sacrifice. Twelve were warriors and magicians, sworn to guard the safety of the 13th, their boy emperor, forced from home and throne by war and a political coup. They accepted exile in return for oaths that their foes would spare their families and friends. The Land of Smoke and Sacrifice had been formed in its universe by events in China during and after the Warring States period, so they originally f...more
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Jane Lindskold is the author of more than twenty published novels, including the six volume Firekeeper Saga (beginning with Through Wolf’s Eyes), Child of a Rainless Year (a contemporary fantasy set in Las Vegas, New Mexico), and The Buried Pyramid (an archeological adventure fantasy set in 1880's Egypt).

Lindskold is also the author of the “Breaking the Wall” series, which begins with Thirteen Orp...more
More about Jane Lindskold...
Through Wolf's Eyes (Firekeeper Saga, #1) Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart (Firekeeper Saga, #2) The Dragon of Despair (Firekeeper Saga, #3) Wolf Captured (Firekeeper Saga, #4) Wolf Hunting (Firekeeper Saga, #5)

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