Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SF/F: Dragon in Chains by Daniel Fox

The story goes that Daniel Fox traveled to Taiwan and became obsessed, to the point of learning the language and writing about it every chance he got. He was, in essence, filled with the place.

When he was sufficiently filled, what ultimately flowed back out was Dragon in Chains (DelRey) a compelling and epic tale set in some alternate mediaeval China where the youthful emperor must flee to an island -- a lightly disguised Taiwan -- where, with his richly varied court, he repairs to get ready for his own destiny.

Fox recently described what was in his heart when he wrote Dragon in Chains:
Partly it was that classic image of the tiny island bristling at the vast mainland, bristling with weapons; partly it was the experience of the native Taiwanese, invaded by a vast northern army and living under military dictatorship. Marry those two together, and there’s a novel. But I’m a fantasist, I have small interest in mimetic fiction. I wanted to recast the story into feudal China first - an emperor in flight, the dynasty at hazard -- and then into imagination, put magic in jade and a dragon in the strait.
Dragon in Chains is the first in what is meant to be an epic saga. If another book were never to follow in this series, this one would be enough. As much as I want to discover what comes next in Fox’s carefully created world, Dragon in Chains stands alone. Fox is not only a wonderful storyteller, he has a poet’s heart and ear. Dragon in Chains is a beautiful book.

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