Title: Forbidden Tales: Sword
Author: Da Chen
This is a guest review, written by Susan Canfield, my mother-in-law. She is a literature teacher at a local junior high school. Who better to read/review a YA literature book than a teacher? Enjoy her thoughts on Forbidden Tales: Sword by Da Chen:
Emperor Ching has commissioned Master Swordsman Mui to create the finest weapon on earth. Shortly before the swordmaster delivers his heavenly creation to the emperor, he has a premonition that this honor would bring tragedy to his family. His fears are realized when the emperor has him brutally murdered to prevent him from ever making another sword that would match the magic of his treasured blade.
Soon after his death, his widow gives birth to a daughter, Mui, Mui. The child's destiny in life is to seek her father's murderer and take his life in revenge. Although outwardly, she appears to be nothing more than a wood gatherer, she is being secretly trained to fight and conquer not only her enemy, but her own passions and will. Her journey of vengeance requires her to find the son of her father's apprentice, a young warrior by the name of Tong Ting. Together, they plot to attack and destroy the emperor during his prayers at the Festival of the Sun.
Having lived her life under the shadow of almost certain death while she accomplishes her mission, she is surprised to find that Tong Ting awakens in her the dream to live and build a future. Now she must battle, not only the supreme enemy, but her own misgivings and desires. Should she fight and avenge the honor of her father, or should she flee to safety and honor her father by bearing his heirs?
I enjoyed getting a glimpse of rural China, of geese and wood gathering, traditions and superstitions. Mui Mui had a unique viewpoint for a woman in her culture, detesting the expected roles, succeeding in martial arts and swordsmanship and yet, delighting in her womanhood and maintaining a desire to find a soul mate
Author Da Chen grew up in China and most of is books, including Colors of the Mountain, a New York Times best seller, are set in his native land and explore life during the Cultural Revolution. Sword brings to life the brutal repression he experienced during his boyhood years in rural China. Da Chen has written several children's books and Sword mirrors the simplicity of a children's tale. I was completely taken in by the author's introduction where he tells of seeing his town's deeply treasured book collection burned by the local political powers. Da Chen writes with the passion of one who treasures the gift of fiction.