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Dragon Bones (Red Princess #3)

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,814 Ratings  ·  323 Reviews
When the body of an American archaeologist is found floating in the Yangzi River, Ministry of Public Security agent Liu Hulan and her husband, American attorney David Stark, are dispatched to Site 518 to investigate. As Hulan scrutinizes this death—or is it a murder?—David, on behalf of the National Relics Bureau, tries to discover who has stolen from the site an artifact ...more
ebook, 322 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Random House (first published January 1st 2002)
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Trevor Nicholson I have yet to read the third one, but if it is like the second, I don't think you necessarily need to have read the first two. The only thing that…moreI have yet to read the third one, but if it is like the second, I don't think you necessarily need to have read the first two. The only thing that carried between the first and second books was the relationship between the two main characters. You might miss out on their background as a couple and how they came to cross paths originally, but most of the plot should be able to stand on it's own. The first two books each were crime stories where the crime was resolved by the end. Like I said, the only thing that carried to the second was just the developing relationship. I guess it is kind of like a TV show like CSI; there are some things about the personal lives of the characters you might have missed but it shouldn't take away too much from the plot.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tara Lynn
Jul 14, 2008 Tara Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always loved early Chinese culture, and adore many of the more popular "current" novels. (The Good Earth Trilogy, Amy Tan's books,) but I've just discovered Lisa See, and I have to say that her books are phenomenal. I
ve been doing a lot of in depth study on the practice of footbinding, and it's development as a perception of beauty in Chinese tradition. You can actually find current photos of footbound women, since the practice continued despite government protest, in the mountainous region
May 21, 2008 L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gio
Shelves: mystery
The back cover promsies "an extraordinarily rich novel" in which "myth mixes treacherously with truth." And, indeed, this is what See delivers. As a reader, you really feel the setting. See avoids easy political shots, taking a more nuanced (and interesting) approach than some might. The murder & mayhem got nasty, but the details are presented as they must be to move the story along, without sliding into the pornography of violence that is common in many thrillers/mysteries; this was a welco ...more
Read it for a book group.

It is third in a series -- maybe I should have read the first 2? What did I miss? I'll never know as I won't read the first 2.

I like the characterization, and I loved reading about the Gorges and the dam and all the Chinese stuff I know nothing about. Issues are with plotting and pacing and ending. Too many weird things that require willing suspension of disbelief (think tunnels and caves and people showing up in the nick of time)

I'd like to know more about the dam and
Jun 16, 2015 Nae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As with every single book of hers that I have read this is a compelling and exciting one to read. Lisa See's gift for painting indelible pictures of a country and people of such mystery to me is a true talent. "On Gold Mountain" was the first of her books I ever read and from the first page she had me hooked. I think I have now finally read everything of hers that is published and just cannot wait for what she writes next.
Dec 31, 2013 Annalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this third Red Princess book even more than the first two in the series. I'll certainly miss the gutsy, stubborn Liu Hulan and her lovely husband David! Unique and very interesting trilogy; more novels than murder mysteries and I learned much about China, its culture and history.
Aug 23, 2010 Katrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Archaeological mystery that I could not put down. Race to save the ancient Chinese artifacts before flooding the Chinese landscape. One more time, Lisa See's research is thorough and accurate. I became even more fascinated when I looked up the dig site on line.
Dec 12, 2013 Rich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been fascinated by the orient since 1967, when I met a college classmate from Hong Kong. I met his father in HK in 1975, and my (Navy) visit to HK that year reaffirmed my fascination and interest in all things Chinese. But life had taken me in different directions since then.

So I picked up this book by Lisa See, not from any recommendation but from that long ago interest. This book was very enjoyable to read. Lisa See captures the sense and scenes of life in China through intrigue, murde
Jun 16, 2009 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really more like 3.5 stars. After reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I was not expecting a detective/mystery story. That is what Dragon Bones is--a mystery book with Chinese history, politics, and legends woven in. At times, it was a bit boring, but at other times, it flew right through interesting sections without going into enough detail. Although some of the book was predictable, I think the rest was written well enough where you weren't 100% sure which way things would go. ...more
Susan Jones
Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
The controversial construction of a massive dam on the Yangzi River is the backdrop for the latest adventures of Liu Hulan, inspector in the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, and her husband, American lawyer David Stark, familiar to readers of Flower Net and The Interior. Many years in construction, the Three Gorges Dam will benefit millions of people, but it will also bury untold archeological wealth. At the start of this complex, atmospheric thrille
Nov 02, 2014 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, gave-up-on
I loved Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls, and liked Dreams of Joy, so I was delighted to find that she also wrote detective fiction. But I was very disappointed in this book. I got as far as 200 pages and then gave up on it. It was so dull that I knew I couldn't slog through another 150.

Some writers shine in one genre or another but fail at others. Georgette Heyer, for instance, was a brilliant author of historical fiction, but her contemporary mysteries are awkward a
Nov 07, 2015 Dyana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 3rd in the Red Princess trilogy - I want more stories in the series, but I'm out of luck. The book could be categorized as a complex Chinese murder mystery. There is a gap between book two and three. At the end of book two, Hulan (an Inspector for the Ministry of Public Security) is pregnant, and she is insisting that she and her husband David Stark (an American lawyer) live in China instead of the U.S. At the beginning of book three, we find Hulan and David are estranged and living ...more
Oct 19, 2007 Kimberly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a mystery, a contemporary analysis of China, and a love story all in one. Sadly, sometimes the whole is less than the sum of its parts and that is the case with this book. It is almost painful to watch how the author attempts to tie these elements into one story. I wanted it to work, because I like intelligent mysteries, but it couldn't provide intellectual engagement OR mindless escapism.
Dec 09, 2007 Trista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is written by an author I really admire. It is the third book in a series that involves Liu Hulan. It is set in China and Liu is sent to investigate the deaths of some people at an archaeological dig site. I really had to think while reading this book as many things that the author describes were not familiar to me.
Apr 27, 2011 Luanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in a set of mysteries that Lisa See wrote. Every book I have read of hers has been excellent. This follows Liu Hulan in China as an Inspector solving a murder case. This also follows Hulan's personal life with her marriage to an American attorney. I learn so much about China from See's books.
Feb 09, 2015 Shawna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not usually a fan of mysteries but this was excellent.
Sharon Apple
Feb 01, 2011 Sharon Apple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thrilling!! Gives more Insight into the world's largest dam, as well as enticingly scratches the surface of: the origin of Chinese language; Chinese thought on domestic control and global political dominance; and, among other things, archeological treasures.
Jan 05, 2014 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I am amazed by the versatility of Lisa See. It seems like all she has to do is touch pen to paper and she begins to unravel a magnificent story.
(Obviously she spends a lot of time doing research to be able to write with such clarity and understanding of her characters and the places they inhabit.)
It doesn't matter if she is writing the story of her own family in On Gold Mountain, or the three books, that make up The Red Princess Trilogy, Flower Net, The Interior and Dragon Bones, or the histori
Anita Claire
Dec 26, 2014 Anita Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good who-done-it.

American husband and Chinese wife team living in Beijing are reeling from the death of their daughter. She is an investigator sent to the Yangzi river while he is a lawyer investigating stolen artifacts. This story is told in third person, alternating from the husband then the wife's point of view.

This story is more then a who done it, the story gives us a window into the viewpoints of Chinese and the history of China. I like that the main characters have flaws, that the
I didn't realize this was an ongoing saga of Liu Hulan; I read this one out of order. I may have enjoyed it more if I started with the first book.
Jan 14, 2014 Helaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started the book with Hulan's daughter dead and the estrangement between David and Hulan, I thought this would be the novel that creates a reason for Hulan to be single and never emotionally involved with a man in subsequent books in the series, a la James Bond. I sighed and thought, do I really want to read on? But I am happy that I did, as Lisa See expertly and seamlessly weaves the personal story of David and Hulan into an engaging mystery with a lot of Chinese history and geography dr ...more
Chris Rogers
Jul 24, 2015 Chris Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the series got stronger and ended on the best book. Hard to say of most trilogies. It definitely followed a strong arch. I thought the first book the characters were forced and flat, the story a little outside of what I usually like but the writing was good. The 2nd book brought depth which the last book built off of. The last chapter of Dragon Bones was really great, good dialogue, I was there visually and physically. This is the fourth Lisa See book I read, probably won't be the last ...more
Janet Eshenroder
I don't read many mysteries but this one was very well done. It kept the suspense and conflict through out and never felt contrived or unnatural. I learned about Chinese politics, archeology, and the art world. The use of two characters being married (with their own conflict) and working on the same case allowed clues to develop from two different directions. Each character presented in the book had a motivation that was nuanced and believable. The changes to the protagonist's internal struggle ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
I like the way Lisa See writes. I fell in love with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and have continued reading her books. This story is wide in scope. We have a couple very close to divorce, who have been living separate lives under the same roof. They have lost their only daughter. Can they survive their grief and guilt and find a mutual place to begin their marriage again? Hulan Liu has recently incurred the wrath of a political group who have made threats against her. Hulan's husband, David S ...more
Nov 06, 2014 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
Hulan and David, after facing a personal tragedy, are sent to the site of a dam project where an American archaeologist was killed and cultural relics are being stolen from the site.

The final Red Princess mystery is much like the first two in that it spends a lot of time on the mystery/plot and not so much on the character development. I like David and Hulan. I like their relationship so I'm always disappointed when the books don't feature that in exchange for a fairly predictable mystery.

Melinda Seyler
Again, the deep interesting China parts juxtaposed against the trying love story of the main characters. I guess I just don't like the format. Love stories: okay. Mysteries; okay. Histories; okay. Altogether: not so good. The mystery part is only okay- kind of like watching a tv show where "now it's time to introduce the drama" so something totally unbelievable happens. The historic part is okay but a bit OTT with the conclusions drawn. I found the landscape of China parts the most interesting.
Graham Crawford
If I want to enjoy reading a Lisa See Book, I have to resign myself to knowing that there will be at least 20 pages of the worst kind of drivel mixed in with the interesting stuff. She is an appallingly bad writer with interesting things to say. Her emotional expositions, romances and boggling stupid crime writing make me want to laugh out loud, and laughter is the only sane response when reading her sex scenes. The phrase "She made him hard and he got her wet" lingers uncomfortably in my memory ...more
C2003: According to the Mail on Sunday this book is “exciting and informative”. I agree 100% with the informative part but not so much on the exciting bit. I was going along quite happily until about two thirds of the way through and then, either my reading mood changed, or the plot development did not sit well, because I then started to flounder somewhat. Perhaps, having started on Book 3 of a series (never a good thing) I failed to see the import of some of the developments regarding the backg ...more
May 04, 2008 Carrol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have come to really enjoy Lisa See's books. This is the second one I have read. (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan being the other one.) Both book are set in China - Snow Flower in the 19th century and Dragon Bones in the early part of the 21st century. Dragon Bones is a "Red Princess" mystery. This mystery is set along the Yangzi River and also explores a number of the issues relating to the controversial Three Gorges Dam construction as well as some of the current political and social issues of ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Dragonbones, by Lisa See, A-minus. Narrated by Liza Ross, produced by Isis, downloaded from audible.

This is actually a mystery, including murders that combines greed from various sources. It involves archeologists at a dig, some of whom are willing to sell artifacts; unscrupulous art dealers, who also want the artifacts to sell; the Chinese government, which wants these artifacts preserved and kept in China, and a religious cult fostered by a man who exploits the people of china to create a reli
After reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, it wasn't hard to pick up Lisa See's Dragon Bones at the library, and be willing to give it a try.

Having not previously read the first two books in the series (not knowing it was a series!), was not an insurmountable challenge, as See writes an immediately gripping thriller of smuggling, politics, and cultural clashes set in 21st century China, shortly after the repatriation of Hong Kong. See does such a wonderful job of w
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Dragon Bones 1 6 Jan 28, 2012 01:43PM  
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Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

More about Lisa See...

Other Books in the Series

Red Princess (3 books)
  • Flower Net (Red Princess, #1)
  • The Interior (Red Princess, #2)

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