Book review: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny by Justin Hill

18 Jan

sword of destinyWhen master warrior Shulien learns of the death of her family’s patron, she abandons retirement and returns to the capital to protect Green Legend, a sword renowned for its historic triumphs. But much has happened in the years she has been in seclusion, and she finds herself beset on all sides with hidden enemies, and the tragic past which she had hoped to forget returns to haunts her.

In her hour of need arrives a beautiful young warrior, Snow Vase, who is seeking a master. But the new apprentice is not all that she seems. When she falls in love with the bandit Wei-fang, a secret is revealed that makes all of them question who is friend and who is foe. In an age of thwarted love, can these two youths find happiness?

Based on the original novels by Wang Du Lu, this is a beautiful love story set in the fading years of nineteenth century Imperial China.

I was a little unsure when I was offered Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny to review as I’ve not read any books in this genre before and I’ve not seen the original film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but I was drawn to the story by the cover quote that says the book is ‘action-packed and romantic’ and by the fact that the book features a number of female warriors. I’m so glad I took a chance and read this because I loved it and now want to read more like it!

This book is a tie in to the film version of the story which is being released as a Netflix original next month. The story is inspired by Wang Du Lu’s Iron Crane series and is written by British author Justin Hill. Wang du Lu is considered one of the four greatest wuxia writers of modern China and according to the blurb at the front of the book, his writing is known for, “it’s fresh, complex renderings of women and warriors.” Having read the book, I think Justin Hill has absolutely nailed it and the female warriors of the story, Shulien, Jialong and Snow Vase really stood out for me.

For those, like me, who haven’t heard of ‘wuxia’ before, it means “martial hero” and is a genre of Chinese fiction focusing on  the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. It’s amazing how reading can suddenly open up a whole new world to you and I absolutely loved the descriptions of time, place and action in this book. The Sword of Destiny of the title is called the Green Legend. It’s a weapon that legend has it is unbreakable and invincible, so powerful that it has been hidden away for many years. But when the guardian of the sword dies, Shulien, a reclusive legendary female warrior, is compelled to secure it’s safety. She isn’t the only one who wants to get her hands on the sword, and so begins a story packed with action and adventure!

True to the cover quote though, the story does have a romantic side and an epic love story at it’s heart. Shulien is still mourning her lost love, Mubai and there is a complex back story to their romance. There’s also a thread involving two babies born around the same time whose destinies are linked. Hill gets the balance between the action and romance just right and with short but powerful paragraphs and scenes, the book has excellent pace.

I loved the descriptions of ancient China in this book and the way that the world surrounding the characters was such a part of their adventure. I loved the ‘kick-ass’ heroines and the way that they showed their strength not just by being warriors. I loved the magic and legend of the story and I will now definitely be looking out for the film and for more from Justin Hill.

4/5

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank publisher, Abacus for sending me a review copy.

Find out more about Justin Hill and his writing at: http://www.justinhillauthor.com/

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