Amph Dream of the Dragon Pool - A Daoist Quest by Alfred A Dalia

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by Dawud786, Jan 8, 2008.

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  1. Dawud786 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2006
    star 4
    I'm just going to cut & paste my SW.com blog entry about this book, but I think it might be of intersted to other Star Wars fans:

    So I've never really written a book review, and I'm not sure this is so much going to turn out as a review. I'm no critic, and I'm just going to gush over how much I liked this book with no real quibbles about writing or anything like that. So... here goes:

    I've previously written about my interest in the genre of Chinese literatue and cinema called "wuxia" or "Martial chivalry" and how I see correlations between it and Star Wars. Specifically when it comes to Jedi, Sith and the Force. Plus, you know, the sword fighting. You can find those previous blogs here: Intergalactic Swordplay and here: Intergalactic Swordplay Episode II

    There's some available wuxia literature in English translation from Chinese, but most of it costs a great deal of money because it's published by Oxford University Press and the like. It's also kinda hard to find unless you're prepared to pay 25+ dollars and shipping from Amazon. You're not likely to find it just on the shelves at your local B&N or Borders. There are resources online for fan translations of many novels by the most popular wuxia authors, links to those are in the previously mentioned blogs on the topic.

    Dream of the Dragon Pool is set during the Tang dynasty and is loosely based on some historical facts. Our hero is Li Bo, the most famous and revered poet in Chinese history, who has been exiled by the Emperor to distant Yunnan province for his remaining days. He is accompanied by Wang Ah Wu, a "xia" or swordsman. Dalia prefers to use the term "wandering blade." We pick of their story as Li Bo is essentially dragging Ah Wu along with him on what may prove to be a foolish and fruitless quest... to find the Dream Temple so that Li Bo can have a dream reveal how to bring back his gift for poetry and return triumphantly to the Imperial Court.

    They encounter ghosts and swordsman along the way. Their path becoming increasingly intertwined with the Emperor's favorite Daoist(Taoist) shamaness, who has fled the Court for fear of her life, and a swordsman named Ma Ssu-ming who is seeking the shamaness along with his drunken monkey friend and "master" Lao Huang. Li and Ah Wu are also pursued by a Blood Dragon, an immature dragon that feeds upon human blood, and its ghostly minions after coming into possession of the legendary Dragon Pool Sword by way of mystical happenings.

    I'm not going to go into great detail about the story, and what I liked. I don't want to hurt the experience for anyone... so what I have put here will have to do. What I do want to do is draw the attention of my fellow Star Wars fans to this novel and hopefully to wuxia fiction in general. The martial prowess and chi abilities of our wandering blade xia characters will remind anyone with the abilities of our favorite Jedi and Sith. Within the first chapter of Dream of the Dragon Pool we are treated to Wang Ah Wu using his chi to expand his awareness beyond what his eyes and ears percieve. Along the way we are treated to swords fights and extraordinary abilities that conjure up memories of some of the best duels and interesting powers in Star Wars. No doubt wuxia was a huge influence on Star Wars at its inception, and especially with the prequel trilogy.

    Here we have a unique opportunity to read some of this type of fiction, and luckily it's not a translation. Albert A Dalia is not only a wuxia fan, but a scholar of medieval Chinese history and culture. His love for Chinese life, history, myth and religion shines through in this novel. As does his love for heroic fiction in general. His is the first, that I know of, serious treatment of wuxia in English, for English speakers. He's already at work on his next foray into the genre. So, I think we have alot to look forward to he
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