Fiction / Ancient China that never was
First off, I love stories of Ancient China, especially about Qin Shi Huandi, the first emperor. I love the histories I've read, and the fiction I've read, and the fantasies of Ancient China whether or not it ever was. So it was with great excitement I began this book. I was not as excited by the end of the book as I was at the beginning.
The writing is consistent, and while I enjoyed some of the characters, I really didn't bond with any of them. I never saw them as anything but paper cut outs. And there were a few times when I was thrown completely out of the story.
The story has its amusing moments, as Li Kao and Lu Yu (aka Number Ten Ox) go about their adventures finding the treasured ginseng root to save the children of Lu's village from a mysterious illness. However, I thought it a tad too long. By the time we were on the third, and final, adventure, I found myself wondering if I cared enough to finish the book. I was, at best, only mildly curious at the whole outcome (saving of the children was a foregone conclusion).
I believe this is Mr. Hughart's debut novel, and long as it was (psychologically, not literally) I will give his next book a read. He has a good story, I think, just too much fluff and not enough busting (editing). I want to care about his characters. I want to identify with at least one of them.