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The Library of Legends

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  6,514 ratings  ·  1,189 reviews

From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel in which a convoy of student refugees travel across China, fleeing the hostilities of a brutal war with Japan

 “Myths are the darkest and brightest incarnations of who we are . . .”

China, 1937. When Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian

ebook, 400 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Lisa I would classify it as a YA book. The majority of the characters are college age. The plot is simple and explores issues like peer pressure, love, loy…moreI would classify it as a YA book. The majority of the characters are college age. The plot is simple and explores issues like peer pressure, love, loyalty and friendship. It takes place during a war but there are no overly gruesome descriptions of battle. Romance is chaste. (less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,514 ratings  ·  1,189 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
This is a gorgeous Historical Fiction novel (based on a true tale of the Second-Sino Japanese war), with mysticism and folklore.
The storytelling is both enchanting and heartbreaking.

I’m a Janie Chang fan!!! I love reading her books.
This is my third.
“Three Souls” was magical ... beautiful....
“Dragon Spring Road” was equally beautiful and brilliant as “Three Souls”.

“The Library of Legends” has a slightly different feeling than Janie Chang’s other two books.
It was more political and even has a
Diane S ☔
3.5 I love reading about events in history that I knew nothing about and the authors who bring them into the reading light of day. It is 1937 and the official start of the second Sino-japanese War and China has ordered the evacuation of their middle schools and Universities. Hoping to save thier brightest young for the future. This is the story of one such University and the students, students who will travel a thousand miles to China's interior. They also carry with them, in the hopes of protec ...more
Kate Quinn
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a cover quote--Janie Chang and I are friends, though I read and enjoyed her books before I met her--and this one enthralled me. THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS is a gorgeous, poetic journey threaded with mist and magic about a group from a Chinese university who take to the road to escape the Japanese invasion of 1937 – only to discover that danger stalks them from within. Pure enchantment!
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
2020 review:

**Full transparency - Janie Chang wrote my all time favorite book "Three Souls" and sent me an ARC of "The Library of Legends" early. THANK YOU Janie for sending me this!!**

Let me begin by stating the obvious - I did not give this 5 stars like I did Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road. I was slightly disappointed in this book for two reasons that were my own fault:
1) my expectations were absolutely THROUGH THE ROOF
2) this wasn't the book I was expecting... because I didn't
3.5 stars

The first thought that popped into my head after I finished reading this book was how different it turned out to be from what I had expected. From a historical perspective, this is a story I greatly appreciated, as it covered a portion of history not widely known, set during a time period not often depicted in novels about the World War II era. The year is 1937 in Nanjing, China — as Japanese bombs begin to fall on the city, students and faculty at various schools are ordered to evacuat
Kathryn in FL
Stunning novel that manages so many facets of good ole fashion story telling. A dynamic tale set between opposing matters of rule in 1937 China where wealthy children of the ruling oligarchy have only adjusted to adulthood, students who now have their illusions shattered as they flee into the impoverished interior with little food security or even protection from the elements. They come face to face with those in pursuit of communism versus nationalism and an the additional challenge they face t ...more
I didn't really enjoy this book for a few reasons: the arrogant, mindless but rich male protagonist was unlikeable to me, the female protagonist didn't seem to have a mind of her own, the writing was a bit simplistic for not being YA. I guess I expected more from this book when I read the summary.

The story takes place during world war II in China among University students. A group of the students must travel from their campus to another part of China that isn't being attacked by the Japanese. Th
Susan Meissner
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. Magical and beautifully written.
Holly Mascaro (birdbrainbooks)
2.5 - This book on paper sounds like everything I normally love: historical fiction in a vivid time and setting with some fantastical elements. Unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed this one. There was a promising story here but it just never pulled me in. I never got invested in the characters—they felt extremely flat, as did the writing throughout. The story itself basically follows this group of students and faculty trekking across China for 220 pages and then follows a few of them all the way ...more
“The exodus of Chinese universities and middle schools began in 1937, the official start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.” The purpose of schools relocating to China’s interior was about “safeguarding the nation’s intellectual legacy, so necessary for building the future.”

China, 1937. Nineteen-year-old Hu Lian has been studying at Minghua University in Nanking. She comes from a humble family. She is one of only three students awarded scholarship. Now, due to Japanese bombing the city, the studen
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book absolutely enchanted me. And it wasn't just Luin, Shao or any of the main characters either. It was the "eyes" and voice of this long story. How it flowed in and out of the majestic, magical - from one earthy sphere of misery to another of wise joy or tranquil ponder or musical vibrant throbs at a point of a pin. It's hard to explain. It's called magic realism when done in the Western Hemisphere "eyes" sense- but this was something quite different. It fused the past of China into the v ...more
Amanda Hupe
I am now a part of a book club on Bookstagram called The Bookstorians. We read a historical fiction book every two months. Our first selection is The Library of Legends by Janie Chang. The story takes place in China during WWII. The Japanese are invading and bombing major cities. When the bombs fall on Nanking, Minghua University has to evacuate. One hundred and twenty-three students and staff must journey across China. They need to take with them The Library of Legends which is a collection of ...more
Stephanie Thornton
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Atmospheric and beautifully told, Janie Chang has woven a tale that tugs on the threads of China's history and legend alike. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story of love amidst war, hope amidst sacrifice. Highly recommended! ...more
The synopsis for The Library of Legends sounded wonderful. This story takes place in China in 1937, when the city of Nanking falls to the Japanese. The narrative follows Lian, a scholarship student who is fleeing with her university to save not only themselves but the Library of Legends, an original collection of China’s fables and folklore that is integral to their national identity. Lian does her part to protect the Library, and I very much enjoyed this aspect of the story. As the journey prog ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction with a twist of folkloric fantasy-- a genre right up my alley!
I found the majority of the book to be somewhat tedious, however. I wish there had been more to the history and folklore and less to the romance.
I enjoyed the last quarter of the book the most (probably because that's when the most action and fantasy took place?), but I got a little bored with the unending account of the character's moods and march to safety during the first half of the book (a long march across Ch
I hated this book so much that I managed to sell it and mail it off within an hour of finishing it.

I was excited to read this at first. I’ve been interested in the Rape of Nanking ever since finishing the Poppy War, so when I heard that this was about a university evacuation during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, I was stoked. Throw in an exodus of Chinese gods, star-crossed lovers, and communist intrigue, and you’re bound to have an interesting book, right?

Wrong. This book somehow managed to take th
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
A memorable and mesmerizing love story amid a backdrop of war, politics, and folklore

The students at Minghua University are ordered to evacuate as Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking in 1937. Nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates, a convoy of more than a hundred students, faculty, and staff must walk a thousand miles to the safety of China’s western provinces. It’s a journey marked by hunger, cold, and the constant threat of aerial attack.

The student are asked to c
Kate Baxter
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was initally seduced by this book's exquisite cover art and was quicky drawn into an epic tale based upon historical fact. The book is beautifully written, drawing on the harsh realities of a China during World War II, yet, at the same time, incorporating a touch of magical realism. The 1,000+ mile walk to the western reaches of the empire built character, developed honor, loyalty as well as humility, and taught so much more than any classroom could deliver. The story incorporates a love of ed ...more
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Set in 1937 China, The Library of Legends tells the true story of students and faculty from Chinese universities moving into China's interior to protect their educational and cultural heritage as Japanese troops approach. As the characters in the novel travel over a thousand miles, not only do they have to worry about the enemy army, they must also contend with the growing distrust of those who align themselves with the Communist Party. A beautifully written story of love and sacrifice in a ti ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A poetic love letter to China's mythology and culture. These kind of books are the reason I fell in love with reading - they enrich your knowledge and make you almost feel like you have lived in another place. When they say whoever reads books has lived a thousand lives, they mean books like this one. I absolutely loved it!!! ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is another one those historical fiction books that makes me realize I need to read some nonfiction about the subject if I want to actually learn something. I made it about a third of the way through the book and was really bored. Up to that point, college students had trekked along carrying books of historical significance, a communist student had tried to convert her classmates and the protagonist had mooned over another of the students (who actually seemed to attract everyone). This just ...more
Tracy Frenette
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: botm
Beautiful story, it's historical fiction with a sprinkle of fantasy and romance. It was so well written that I felt like I was there with them. If you like historical fiction I would definitely recommend it. ...more
Dinah Moore
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-hb
I chose this book for my BOM (April 2020) choice for 3 reasons. 1- I thought it had a pretty cover. 2- It’s an early release. 3- Because it’s subject matter is not something that I would normally choose to read. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. The magical aspect contributed to the book without being overpowering or too much and made it seem more ‘legend’ like. I liked that a map was included so I could follow along on the trek through China, and I also enjoye ...more
Sara Bruhns
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars for a beautiful, atmospheric story that succeeded in transporting me into a wartime fairytale, but kept me at a bothersome distance from the characters.

The book follows Lian, Shao, and Sparrow on their walk across China with their university in 1937 while Japanese bombs fall all around them. The university students carry with them the Library of Legends, a centuries-old collection of myths and folklore that represents China’s culture. As they travel, gods, fairies, and other celestial
Review based on ARC (Advanced Readers' Copy received in exchange for an honest review).

I was completely sucked in by the cover and title. Even though this is squarely in the historical fiction category, the description did nothing to dissuade me to seek this book out. Briefly, it's about a young adult student at University in China in 1937, during the Japanese-Chinese war. As bombs begin falling on her city, Nanking, she and the other students are forced to trek 1000 miles to safety, protecting
Well written, with likable characters, a vivid sense of place, a dash of magical realism, and an interesting plot, this novel will hold your interest to the end!

In 1937, the Japanese army invaded China. Amidst the turmoil and upheaval, universities began to evacuate their students to the country’s inland area. Education is highly valued in China, and the students were seen as being the nation’s intellectual treasure - necessary for rebuilding the country after the war, and for building the count
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was on the boring side. It really didn’t have much to do with the description on the book cover and nothing exciting happened throughout the book. The magical realism was interspersed, but it seemed irrelevant to the book and to its characters. In the end, the spirits in the book were never mentioned again and things were wrapped up quickly. Unfortunately, I missed the point of this story.
Amy Imogene Reads
Mar 29, 2020 marked it as to-read
One of my Book of the Month picks for April! This premise sounds pretty good, but the added supernatural element is really pulling me in.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Library of Legends takes place in 1937 China whilst they are at war with Japan. We follow Lian, a university student, who with her classmates and professors at Minghua University must escape across the country to avoid bombs. They leave, forming a travelling campus whilst the students are tasked with taking care of the Library of Legends, an ancient collection of Chinese myths.

The book deals with the horrors of war and being a refugee. There is also an interesting political backdrop, particu
Susan Ballard
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This was my April BOTM pick. And while I’m not going to deny that the gorgeous cover caught my eye, the synopsis is what sold me.

Set in China in 1937, during the war with Japan, Minghua University students must evacuate to safety as the city of Nanking is under attack. Professors, students, and servants begin a treacherous thousand-mile journey, but they carry with them precious cargo: The Library of Legends. These volumes contain the ancient myths and folklore of China’s past.

The quiet student
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Janie Chang grew up listening to stories about life in a small Chinese town in the years before the Second World War and tales of ancestors who encountered dragons, ghosts, and immortals. Her two novels, THREE SOULS andl DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD have been nominated for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award. DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD was a Canadian national bestseller. Her upcoming novel THE LIBRARY OF ...more

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