Chen, Da. Forbidden Tales: Sword. HarperCollins, 2008. ISBN 9780061447587. $17.89. 240 p.
Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
Reading Level: Young adult
Genre: Adventure stories;
Subject: China--Juvenile fiction; Revenge--Juvenile fiction; Books--Reviews;
On her fifteenth birthday, Miu Miu finds she is not to be wed like most girls, but is to avenge the death of her father who died by the hands of the emperor. Her betrothed, Tong Ting, who was pledged at birth to assist Miu Miu on her mission, joins her in exacting revenge. Using all their courage, luck, and cunning, the pair face their enemy but are ultimately outmatched in martial arts skills. Failing in their quest, the two are prepared to die, but they are saved by mystic forces that give them another chance at life.
Full of beautiful language and stunning cultural details, this novel is filled with lots martial arts action that will certainly appeal to many readers. Overall, however the story lacks cohesion. The author frames the narrative as a story within a story. The beginning is told by an unrelated storyteller, which is traditional but peculiar in this case since these characters are never mentioned again. Additionally, the main story’s plot jumps around so fast readers feel a sense of whiplash making the events very hard to follow. Lastly, there is no motivation for the characters beyond traditional cultural norms, which are abandoned so quickly in the end that no emotional link is formed between book and reader. Even with these flaws, this novel’s beautifully rendered setting and the eloquent descriptions of Kung Fu action make this novel a fun, appealing, fast paced read.
Volume 28, no. 5 (May/June 2008)
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.
The information available on this site, including any text, computer codes, data, artwork, video, audio, images or graphics (collectively the "Material") are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Parties other than Brigham Young University ("BYU") may own copyright in the Material. We encourage the use of this Material for non-profit and educational purposes only, such as personal research, teaching and private study. For these limited purposes, Material from this web site may be displayed and printed, and all copies must include any copyright notice originally included with the Material. Additionally, a credit line must be included with each item used, citing the article or review author, title or article or review, title of the database, sponsoring agency, date of your access to the electronic file, and the electronic address.