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A captivating fantasy novel set in medieval China

Listening to Rain

Whether readers are attracted to fantasy novels because they see them as a way to escape to a completely different universe, or they simply enjoy the sense of wonder and magic they offer, the truth is that fantasy is one of the most popular genres today. There are so many types of fantasy stories that it is impossible not to find one that you like, even if you’re not necessarily a fan. For instance, if you are interested in history and mythology, you might want to try some fantasy series that are based on legends, popular myths, and even historical facts. ‘Listening to Rain: The Adventures of the Shaolin Blade Tanzong’ by Albert A. Dalia is a great choice for someone who loves Chinese history, culture, and mythology.

Albert A. Dalia is a scholar of medieval Chinese history, and he has published a collection of Chinese style ghost stories and two historical fiction novels. ‘Listening to Rain’ is the first book in a trilogy he decided to write and structure in the Chinese wuxia style. This means that the story focuses on a martial hero who is bound by a code of chivalry that requires him to fight for righteousness and redress wrongs. Knowing this, it is easy to imagine what you should expect from this epic tale: adventure, heroism, bravery, and great sacrifices. Moreover, the author based the book upon a 7th century Chinese understanding of reality. Thus, the story will be full of myths, magic, mythical creatures, poetry, and sensibility, because all these elements can be found in traditional Chinese legends.

‘Listening to Rain’ is the story of Tanzong the Shaolin Blade, a great warrior who is in the service of the Emperor of China. The action takes place in 627 A.D., and the empire is ruled by the Tang dynasty. However, there are political problems in the north and the south, and the Emperor decides to send two of his trustworthy men to negotiate with the Lee aborigine tribes from the south in hopes that they would stop their rebellion. These two brave men are Tanzong the Shaolin Blade and the Imperial Commissioner Li Wei. In the first book, they have to reach the mysterious Isle of Pearls, and to get there they will have to go through many dangerous situations. They fight off the airborne attacks of the Thunder Lords, cross storm-tossed seas in a shaman’s bronze ship, and they sail aboard a pirate ship.

The narrator in ‘Listening to Rain’ is Li Wei, who wants to write Tanzong’s story in hopes that those who read the scrolls will remember him and his acts of courage. This technique the author decided to use, along with the fact that he also introduced many characters, incidents, and locations that actually appear in Chinese historical records, gives the novel a true sense of realism that the readers will find absolutely captivating. No doubt, this is one of the books that can keep readers glued to the pages for hours on end.

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