Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang ~ My Thoughts #TheLibraryOfLegends

The Library of Legends

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang
Historical Asian Fiction, 400 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks

From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel—the third in a loosely-connected trilogy—in which a young woman travels across China with a convoy of student refugees, 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 and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Lian and a convoy of more than a hundred students, faculty, and staff must walk a thousand miles to the safety of China’s western provinces, a journey marred by hunger, cold, and the constant threat of aerial attack. And it is not just the student refugees who are at risk: Lian and her classmates have been entrusted with a priceless treasure, a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.

Her family’s past has made Lian wary of forming attachments, but the students’ common duty to safeguard the Library of Legends forms unexpected bonds. Lian finds friendship and a cautious romance with the handsome and wealthy Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is murdered and another arrested, Lian realizes she must escape from the convoy before a family secret puts her in danger. Accompanied by Shao and the enigmatic maidservant Sparrow, Lian makes her way to Shanghai, hoping to reunite with her mother.

On the journey, Lian learns of the connection between her two companions and a tale from the Library of Legends, The Willow Star and the Prince. Learning Shao and Sparrow’s true identities compels Lian to confront her feelings for Shao. But there are broader consequences too, for as the ancient books travel across China, they awaken immortals and guardian spirits to embark on an exodus of their own, one that changes the country’s fate forever.

Based on true events, rich in Chinese history and lore, The Library of Legends is both an illuminating exploration of China’s recent past and an evocative tale of love, sacrifice, and the extraordinary power of storytelling. 


My thoughts about The Library of Legends ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"The approaching aircraft were too far away to tell whether they were Chinese or Japanese. A moment later, she didn't need to guess."

I love reading about Asian cultures, I've always been fascinated with their customs, beliefs, and lifestyles. The Library of Legends totally delves into all of that as we follow a group of students fleeing for their lives, all while trying to keep the sacred set of books safe. 

As Lian flees with the other university students, she comes to rely on Liu Shaoming and Sparrow, learning the secrets of their past and the danger that comes along with that knowledge.

This is a beautifully written story that swept me away to another time and place, rich with the folklore and tales of the ancient Chinese. I definitely want to go back and read this author's other books. 

I received an ARC of The Library of Legends via Edelweiss and this is my honest opinion.

About the author

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 and 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 Legends will be available April 28, 2020 (Canada), May 12 (USA).

Born in Taiwan, Janie has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, and New Zealand. She now lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with her husband and Mischa, a rescue cat blessed with astonishing beauty and no self-esteem issues whatsoever. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Janie


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