Title: The Sage, The Swordsman and the Scholars
Author: Pierrre Dimaculangan
Publication Date: Sept 28, 2015
I received a copy of the book and the artwork seen below from the author for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
When enigmatic nonhuman visitors arrive from the sea, the very foundations of the Middle Kingdom are under attack. The evil agenda of these invaders sparks a massive war that will determine the fate of the Ming dynasty and the nations beyond. A legendary swordsman allies himself with a banished Shaolin monk, a defeated bandit chieftain, a carefree Mongolian merchant, and an unknown philosopher who knows the only hope for victory. Together, this band of misfits strives to be proven worthy of the impossible task before them, even finding themselves at the Emperor’s doorstep. Determined to combat the invaders’ initial offensives, they must also help the Ming Army repel countless internal enemies who have rallied to bring down the mighty Ming dynasty.
The descriptions in this book are beautiful and from the beginning I got older Martial Arts (Wuxia) movies feels. I could clearly visualise the Swordsman Sun Xin, with his wide-brimmed hat pulled low, his coat fluttering in the wind, releasing his sword from the scabbard, turning smoothly and fluidly, making short work of his attackers.
Sun Xin is a warrior, not especially religious somewhat scornful of the antiquated ideas of heaven and God which he felt were only a useful for philosophical thought. He is soon going to realise that to stand against the rising forces of darkness, he is going to have to follow the Way, for there is only so much he can accomplish with the help of the Swordsman’s Curse. that terrible darkness which resides within himself. fed by anger and buried pain.
I really loved the cinematic feel of this novel and could clearly visualise the scenes as described so clearly by the author. I was captivated and wanted to savour this experience.
The main character Sun Xin is a likeable, memorable character and a great Swordsman. I liked the glimpses into his life and some of the people he comes into contact with such as the hermit/Sage Famin Jie and the monk Zuo Shilong.
I was most intrigued by the Sage’s character. Even with all that was going on, his faith never wavers and this gives him the power to stand against evil and its agents. His power comes from Heaven and from following the way and allowing his belief to guide his every action. I was comforted by his calm and so were the people he came into contact with. He is even humble enough to know when to seek help instead of thinking he can handle everything by himself. His journey brings him in contact with persons who will be especially important in the battle that was fast approaching.
Through the religious undertones. I felt like I got a glimpse into beliefs other than mine and in a non-intrusive manner and I was surprised to see how many similarities there were. There is political intrigue and a mystery surrounding a race of pale people whose real intentions are hidden behind gifts and bribes. When that doesn’t work, they will try to take by force and it is up to a small group of people including The Swordsman, The Sage and the Scholars to stand against them.
This leads to a battle which was brought to life by avid details and descriptions so that I felt like I was there. The fighting scenes were what I enjoyed the most with a unique mixture of swordfighting and the almost magical power channeled by followers and believers of the Way. Some of the baddies are really scary and downright evil and added an element of dire straits to the plot.
I also loved the glimpses of The Terruks (the pales ones) homeland and I hope to learn more in the sequel about them and how they came to be.
I had a few minor issues; I felt like there could have been better indication when a point of view was being changed probably by using a page break of some kind and at times it was a bit preachy and did affect my enjoyment a bit. Apart from that I was impressed with the way the author was able to blend fantasy, martial arts and history almost seamlessly while employing themes for philophical debate about good and evil.
Overall, The Sage, The Swordsman and the Scholars is an interesting mix of high fantasy, martial arts and ancient Chinese history with an underlying theme of good against evil that will leave you sated yet curious and eagerly awaiting a sequel.
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