Grace Tjan's Reviews > The Book and the Sword

The Book and the Sword by Louis Cha
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's review
Jan 18, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, chinese-literature, long-ago-and-never-was, wuxia
Recommended for: wuxia/ Jin Yong fans
Read from January 29 to February 02, 2010 — I own a copy

Jin Yong's first wuxia novel is set in the reign of the Qian Long Emperor, when the Qing dynasty was expanding its realm through the Uighur lands in China's far west. The main protagonist, Chen Jialuo, is the young helmsman of the Red Flower Society, a secret organization dedicated to the restoration of Han Chinese sovereignty, which they wish to accomplish through the secret tie between their helmsman and the Emperor. The plot is woven around two stories that date from this period in Chinese history: the rumor that Qian Long is in fact Chinese by birth, not Manchu, and the legend of the Fragrant Princess, a Muslim beauty who Qian Long took as his concubine. There is martial art fighting galore, especially in the earlier part of the book ---which could have been trimmed a bit --- and other exciting episodes: wolf packs, war scenes and a lost city in the desert. There are also poetic moonlit boat rides on the West Lake and a romantic journey through the Edenic grassland of Xinjiang. The characters are ably rendered, although not with as much depth as in Jin Yong's later works. The story is relatively brief at around 500 pages (an effect of the English editing?) and somewhat realistic for this genre, except for the tragic end with its echo of the Legend of the Butterfly Lovers (Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai), China's Romeo and Juliet. It is interesting to compare this book with The Deer and The Cauldron, Jin Yong's last novel, which also takes place during the Qing dynasty and deals with similar issues of loyalty and patriotism.

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Reading Progress

01/30/2010 page 50
9.33% "Secret society, Uyghurs and a Holy Koran."

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Grace (last edited Jan 20, 2010 07:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Grace Tjan Hi Leola. It's a wuxia (Chinese martial art) novel. I don't know if you're familiar with them, but they're very different from Western historical fiction. I grew up reading Jin Yong's books and I still like to read them. They're a lot of fun. You might also like The Deer and The Cauldron by the same author.

That's my dog Max. He's a 3 year old Mini Schnauzer and I love him to bits! Do you have dogs or cats yourself?

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