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Topic: Fantasy Set in Asia?

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Subject: Fantasy Set in Asia?
Date Posted: 5/8/2008 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
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I have looked everywhere and only been able to find a very few suggestions for fantasy books set in Asia.

I have The Nightingale Floor by Liam Hearn on my TBR (just got it today). I just finished Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart (if anyone has Eight Skilled Gentlemen that I can swap or borrow let me know). Sean Russell's Initate Brother and Gatherer of Clouds are on my TBR as well.I have Monkey: A Folk Novel of China and The Laughing Sutra on the way to me right now.

Does anyone have any suggestions for other fantasy (or fantasy- type) books based in Asia, the further back in time the better, and preferably China or Japan?

Date Posted: 5/8/2008 11:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 192
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I had remember a cover I have seen at the library and I looked it up here. It was Paper Mage by Leah R. Cutter

and I did a quick google search and found a listmania list from Amazon that seems to have a number of others. www.amazon.com/Alt-Asia-fantasy-and-sci-fi/lm/31H2S1VIZS3C5

I haven't read any other than Tong Lashing which is the third book in a series by Peter David so I can't really comment on how any of them are.

Hope this helps.


Date Posted: 5/9/2008 2:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2008
Posts: 25
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  I was going to say Sean Russell's books but you beat me to it.  Loved those!

  Have you read Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka?  That one was very good, though not pure fantasy - no magic, creatures, etc.  Set in Japan  late 1800's (I think) so very little in the way of technology.  Everyone was still riding horseback and carrying swords.  Except for the American cowboy character (who was pretty cool).  It is on my bookshelf, if you're interested.

  You reminded me of 8 Skilled Gentlemen.  I remember looking at that and thinking I should get it but I never did.  Going to have to look it up when I get some points to spare. 

  I'll have to keep an eye on the posts - I've been looking for some good Asian high fantasy for a while, but so far everything has been fantasy-lite.  Even if it was modern - ala Big Trouble in Little China, it would be worth a look.


Date Posted: 6/18/2009 3:12 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I believe (though I can't promise, because it isn't out yet) that Jacqueline Carey's new novel Naamah's Kiss is going to spend significant time in China. This is really the 7th book in the series, but it skips a couple hundred years after the last one and all have stand-alone plots, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good place for new readers to join. If you dont know the series (which starts with Kushiel's Dart), in it Carey has created a skewed Renaissance Europe with one big difference: when Jesus (called Yeshua) was crucified, his blood and Mary Magdalene's tears mingled in the dirt to create another son of god, named Elua, who founded a race of people (called the D'Angelines) in what the names would indicate is France (called Terre d'Ange). The descendants of Elua, of course, are more closely linked to their gods than most people, but there isn't any real magic in the series. It's really fun to draw the parallels to what I know of Renaissance Europe (necessary because all the names are alternate or original -- Alba instead of England, Caerdicca Unitas instead of Italy, etc.) and I imagine that Carey will do (has done?) as good a job drawing the parallels to China in this next book, though as it is the 1st of a trilogy and starts on Alba/England, it may take a while to get there.

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 11:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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There is a series out of China, very old. I read one once, but now I can't find it, and that shames me, also that I cannot remember the exact name. But the protagonist is called Monkey, and his exploits permeat all Chinese literature that follows.

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 11:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2009
Posts: 285
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I just finished Naamah's Kiss and while I think those who are fans of the Kushiel series will love it, I wouldn't recommend it as a "China" book (or even as a "Ch'in" book, as the the country is called in that alternative universe).  Most of the book is set in Alba (Britain) and Terre d'Ange (France) and the Ch'in part of the adventure doesn't really get too deep into the culture, etc.

Date Posted: 6/19/2009 2:16 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Sad to hear that about Naamah's Kiss, though I still hope there will be more in depth about the "Ch'in" in the two later books in this trilogy.


I thought of another book that should qualify, though again I haven't read it myself. It's called  The Fox Woman, by Kij Johnson, and is actually posted here on PBS.

Date Posted: 6/19/2009 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/7/2009
Posts: 26
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TSR produced a fantasy series set in the Forgotten Realms, titled the Horselords, perhaps? Set in an Asian/Mongolian-type setting in eastern Faerun with various authors. Circa ~1994?

Date Posted: 6/19/2009 10:47 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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The Healer's War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.  Vietnam.  (She was a nurse there.  Powerful.)

Jessica Amanda Salmonson has at least three set in Japan.

Date Posted: 6/21/2009 6:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 30
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I remembered that Kara Dalkey had re-told the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Emperor's Nightgale".  It's called The Nightingale.  There are six people who have wishlisted it.

Kara Dalkey has two other fantasy novels set in Japan.  They are Genpei and Little Sister.  They're on my wish list.  I love Kara Dalkey.





Date Posted: 6/24/2009 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2006
Posts: 50
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I second the suggestion for Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Tomoe Gozen trilogy.

Date Posted: 6/24/2009 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 56
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Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days is based on the Tam Lin fantasy and takes place in a sort of Mongolian setting.  It's marketed for young adults, however, but I still found it to be one of those books that anyone can read. 

Date Posted: 6/27/2009 11:13 AM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2006
Posts: 871
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It is a bit cyber punk science fiction but Battle Royale was good.  It is was a pulp favorite in Japan.  Translated to english.  The Liam Hearn books are great, you may have a hard time finding a similiar well written fantasy world in Japan.

Japan has a lot of fantasy but you will need to find translations of graphic novels.  The Miyazaki films (released by Disney) were based on Japanese fantasy fiction and history.

Last Edited on: 6/27/09 11:17 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/5/2009 12:07 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 553
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You might enjoy the "Kai Lung" series by Ernest Bramah, it is somewhat similar to Hughart's books.

There is a series based on the "Legend of the Five Rings" collectable card game - "Dragon", "Phoenix", "Crane", "Crab", "Scorpion",  "The Wind of Truth", "Wind of Honor", "Rokugan", "The Steel Throne"



Date Posted: 7/8/2009 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 9/17/2007
Posts: 367
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Cindy Pon's novel.

Also some old novels by Jessica Amanda Salmonson.

Date Posted: 7/18/2009 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
Posts: 4
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What about Naomi Novik's Temeraire series? They're basically the Napoleonic Wars With Dragons, and I know at least one of the later books takes place in China.

I've never actually read any of these, though, so I have no idea how well-done the China setting is.

Date Posted: 7/18/2009 1:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I didn't find the China setting terribly convincing -- it still felt too European. It served the plot well enough, but I wouldn't read these because the later books are set in China. Read them if you want to read moderately well-written dragon adventure stories that feel like British nautical stories. ;)

Date Posted: 7/24/2009 3:00 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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In the book browser yesterday, I found this book: Chung Kuo: The Middle Kingdom : Book 1 (Chung Kuo) :: David Wingrove

Looks a little more SF than Fantasy, but you never know. It's on my RL for now.

ETA - I just re-read your OP and I see you want something in the realm of ancient times. Still, that above book might interest you, so I'll leave it up.

Last Edited on: 7/24/09 3:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/27/2009 9:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 9
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You might like Liz Williams's Inspector Chen novels (Snake Agent, The Demon and the City, Precious Dragon). The setting is near-future and the books contain some science fiction and mystery elements as well as fantasy, but the underlying premise is that various elements of Chinese traditional beliefs (the Jade Emperor, other gods, demons, dragons, ghosts, magic, feng shui, etc.) are all very real and interact directly with the human world. Inspector Chen, a magician and protege of the compassionate goddess Kuan Yin, deals with occult crimes; in the first book, Snake Agent, he's tasked with figuring out why the souls of innocent young girls are turning up in hell instead of heaven. I wouldn't say the books are particularly deep, but they're very interesting and fun to read. 

Date Posted: 8/4/2009 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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Kara Dalkey also wrote a trilogy (The Blood of the Goddess) set in India: Goa/Bijapur/Bhagavati. Andre Norton wrote The White Jade Fox. A.Merritt did a book of short stories, The Fox Woman and Other Stories, some of which are based on Japanese folklore. There are also Mark Rogers' Samurai Cat books - very strange and wonderful.

Last Edited on: 8/4/09 12:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/19/2009 1:57 AM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
Posts: 112
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You might try "The Paladin" by C.J. Cherryh.  Set in a chinese-like culture, but no magic.