Archive for the ‘Albert Dalia’ Category
Inspired by the Small Press/ Independent Books posts on Genre Reader and Fantasy Book Critic, I decided to pull my review of Albert Dalia’s Dream of the Dragon Pool out of the archives. Small Press, but readily available, this should be a must read for fans of historical fiction/fantasy or Asian legends. I think this might have been one of the first true fantasy novels I read, so reading the review again, I laugh at my naive opinions on fantasy.
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At first blush, Dream of the Dragon Pool seems a rather simple narrative following the poet Li Bo on his journey into exile after being expelled by the royal court. Stopping at an ancient dream temple, Li falls into a dangerous quest that he must complete, or face the anger of the spirits.
Li Bo was a real person, one of the most famous poets in Chinese literature. Of central Asian descent, Li Bo was often seen as an outsider. After an attempted coup, he was sent into exile to the southern reaches of the empire. Before reaching Burma, he was invited to return to the capital. Dream of the Dragon Pool is what may have happened during his travels south. Although many of the people and places in the novel have historical context, Dalia does a beautiful job of unique world building. Where some historical background would usually be helpful, it isn’t needed to enjoy this wonderful tale.
Li is told at the dream temple that he must bring the Dragon Pool Sword to Mount Wu, to be protected by the Spirit who resides there. To accomplish this, Li and his swordsman companion Ah Wu travel down the Yangzte River and through the three gorges (also a real place, The Three Gorges is to this day a dangerous area of the Yangzte River). But they aren’t the only ones who know the Dragon Pool Sword is in transit. The sword is an object of power, can it be protected by a mere mortal?