This long novel is a curious mix of naïve plotting, profound lifestyle philosophy and historical fact. Its maps, glossary, bibliography, explanation of the Chinese Zodiac and other material extraneous to the actual tale all strive to make the whole thing accessible to modern young western readers.
The author originally conceived of the ‘Kung Fu’ story when she was a child and following the success of Chinese Cinderella has rewritten a tale of four children from a Shanghai Martial Arts Academy who, in 1942, become involved in a dangerous secret mission to rescue some American soldiers, crashed in Japanese occupied territory.
As a glimpse into another culture at another time it is of value and I was impressed at the way the author has deftly attempted to throw impartial light on religious belief from world religions. However, the coincidences of the plotting did jar a bit and demand a high degree of suspension of disbelief.