Review: A Hero Born: by Jin Yong (Author), Anna Holmwood (Translator)

Rating: 5*

The epic Chinese classic and phenomenon published in the US for the first time! 

A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic, Jin Yong’s A Hero Born is the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. 

After his father was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Genghis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned.

With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive.

*** At first I wasn’t sure I would finish this book for the first pages listed ALL the characters and their backgrounds right from the start.  And there seemed like hundreds!  [Pretty darn close too!]  And note these were not common names but ones I couldn’t pronounce so consequently, my reading was a bit slow at first until I really got into the story.  But once in I was HOOKED!   Even though the names were foreign, the action and pace moved extraordinarily fast.  And that is due to the excellent translation of the tome by Anna Holmwood.   It was an easy read with enormous momentum, and some of the key characters (of which some did not last long in this brutal world of fantasy and wonder)  added a plethora of emotions from horror and hate to caring and love.   

However, I did finish this book and there are a lot of words I can use to describe it – AWESOME – FABULOUS – UNFORGETTABLE – EMOTIONALLY STIRRING.   Loved the pace, the people, the historical strands of actual historical figures, and the wonder of the fantasy and of course, the descriptions of all the martial arts moves and action!

Highly Recommended!!!

Marilyn Rondeau * marilynsbookreviews.com

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Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Hardcover, 384 pages Published September 3rd 2019 by Minotaur Books

ISBN 13: 9781250204448             Series :  Two Rivers #1    Setting: Devon, England 

In North Devon, England, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished by the Brethren, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too. 

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his detectives. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.  The case calls Matthew back into the community he’d thought to leave behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

Matthew Venn is just a regular guy – a cop turned detective after putting in his time but also a very good person.  He was brought up in a strict religious community but had come to the conclusion early on that he just didn’t agree with all their rules and tenets.  Unfortunately, you either agreed or you were out and as much as it hurt he followed his heart.    Now with the new case and leads beginning to point him back to the Brethren he has to discover what if anything the murder and the mysterious kidnappings of young women had to do with one another.  

The pace of this was to my mind a bit on the slow side in the beginning but it sped up. I did find it quite interesting to follow all the loose ends and tiny bits of clues as Matthew and his team dug into the murder and then missing young women to discover how the connections started to knit together.  

The characterizations of the lead characters were beautifully molded together with compassion and love.  I particularly loved that Matthew and his husband were treated  as not an oddity, but as two people who genuinely cared for one another, even though the Brethren had to get a couple of snipes in along the way.  However, the writing and the story itself were both done exceptionally well and I love a great mystery so yes, I highly recommend this book. Good solid writing. 

Marilyn Rondeau