When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Posted in Blog and tagged book, china, Chinese, culture, fantasy, fiction, historical fiction, novel, Opium Wars, R.F.Kuang, review, The Poppy War, YA
With the release of Big Fish & Begonia, Xueting Christine Ni looks at China’s diverse pantheon that influenced the animation… As a public speaker who saw the oncoming wave of Chinese animation in the early 2000s, and who spent the last decade promoting these to West, it was my absolute joy to introduce Big Fish & Begonia this spring to the general public at various venues in London for the cinema release. Summer brings the home media release, set for the 9th of July, which coincides with the UK publication of my new book From Kuan Yin to Chairman Mao: An Essential Guide to Chinese Deities. Many of the beings I have written about are also featured in this 21st-century animation, and one of the reasons I have written the book is to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of these deities. In this article, I take a look at their origins and their reinterpretation in the film. China has a long tradition of taking inspiration from its Shen Hua (mythology) for the creation its Dong Hua (animation), from classics such as the 1964 Uproar in Heaven and Nezha Conquers the Dragon King (1979), to The Calabash Brothers (1986) and recent renditions of Investiture of the Gods. Certain deities, such as ones that have evolved with urban entertainment, tended to be focused on. Big Fish & Begonia takes a fresh angle on the subject. The story is set in the Undersea, the world of Chun, heroine of the story. Based on the concept Gui Xu from the 4th to 5thcentury BCE Daoist text Lie Zi, Undersea is the final Continue Reading →
Posted in Blog and tagged animation, Big Fish & Begonia, china, Chinese, culture, Daoism, deities, fantasy, pop culture
My English partner once told me, that China should re-Christen themselves the East Pole, claim Father Christmas as one of their own, and tell the children of the world, that he’s just moved closer to where the toys are made.
As we hear sleigh bells on the horizon, I know a lot of you will be facing Christmas with a mixture of excitement and dread, with many of you still hunting for exactly the right gift to spoil your loved ones and friends. Interest in Chinese culture have grown in recent years, and I hope this gift guide may help inspire anyone shopping for a sinophile!
Posted in Blog and tagged Ben Chu, Big Trouble in Little China, book, Chinese, Chinese Fairly Tales, Chinese Whispers, christmas, classicist, culture, Donnie Yen, fantasy, film, Folio Society, Geek, Genjing Records, gift, ginger, indie record label, Ip Man, JING, John Carpenter, music, POP!, punk, review, Sci-Fi, sinophile, tea, Terracotta Distribution, urban adventurer, Victo Ngai, vinyl
The Chinese Lunar calendar doesn’t always match up with ours, and our festivals hardly ever overlap. Whilst the West gets all its gruesome ghosts and ghouls taking centre stage at the end of October, the biggest festival of the dead in China takes place half way through the seventh lunar month. This friday saw the end of Zhong Yuan (or Ghost Month http://snowpavilion.co.uk/zhong-yuan-ghost-month/), and to celebrate, here’s a review of 2015’s big fantasy monster movie, released internationally (but not in the UK yet) in August.
Posted in Blog and tagged Attack on Titan, Bingbing Li, china, Chinese, cinema, culture, demon, demon slayer, DevilMan, fantasy, film, Frozen, Ghost Month, horror, Kun Chen, Labyrinth, Lord of the Rings, monster, Peter Pau, Shaw Brothers, Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, Tsui Hark, Wuxia, Zhang Ji Zhong, Zhong Kui, Zhong Yuan
As we head into 2015, I’m taking a moment to recapture what a great year 2014 has been.
Posted in Blog and tagged 2014, Auto Assembly, china, Chinatown Artspace, Chinese, Chua Boon Kee, culture, fantasy, literature, LonCon3, ReadCon, recap, Sci-Fi, Shaw Brothers, tea, World Con