Constructed of stone and packed earth, the Great Wall of 10,000 li protects China’s northern borders from the threat of Mongol incursion. The wall is also home to a supernatural beast: the Old Dragon. The Old Dragon’s Head is the most easterly point of the wall, where it finally meets the sea.
In every era, a Dragon Master is born. Endowed with the powers of Heaven, only he can summon the Old Dragon so long as he possesses the dragon pearl.
It’s the year 1400, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years. Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. Folk believe he has yin-yang eyes and other paranormal gifts.When Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor, a bitter war of succession ensues in which the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon.
Bolin embarks on a journey of self-discovery, mirroring Old China’s endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, Heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east?
|Matador (28 November 2018)
|15.3 x 3.5 x 22.9 cm
"A stand out novel that ticks all the boxes – murder, mystery, treason, glorious villains, reluctant heroes and more than a touch of the supernatural."
"The author is an excellent storyteller."
British Fantasy Society.
"History meets magic, culture meets supernatural… I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a twist."
Books Beyond the Story.
"This is an exceptionally well-written book which takes one back to the China of 1400."
That's Books and Entertainment
"Show me a book with a dragon in it and I want to know about it!"
Books and Me!
"I absolutely loved the mix of fantasy elements well-rooted in Chinese history."
"I enjoyed the different perspectives and the magical realism."
"This book was part murder mystery and part fantasy with some fabulous villains and heroes."
Over the Rainbow
"This isn't your typical coming of age story - it's filled with tough choices, unexpected surprises, and a destiny that's bigger than anyone can imagine."
The Faerie Review
"This epic story has it all - adventure, mystery, villains, the supernatural, and at its heart a true coming of age journey."
Books and Emma
"This is a book of historical fantasy, but in terms of the fantasy, it is subtle, and firmly rooted in cultural beliefs and superstitions within the time period covered in the book."
Book Mad Jo
"The Old Dragon's Head … is more historical mystery than magical realism."
"This is not just a fantasy book, this is a fantasy with history, murder, mystery, legend, myth and of course the supernatural. There are villains and heroes and action and adventure."
Bookmarks and Stages
"I found this book very difficult to review. First, I was muddled by the many names of Chinese and Mongol at the very beginning, having to restart several times. Then I discovered that the names of most individual characters were a single syllable and was able to get used to these and recognise them. Then, secondly, I became so interested in the story that my critical faculties switched off and all I wanted was to see what came next. The author is an excellent storyteller.
Several characters share the story, switching from chapter to chapter, but luckily keeping to the timeline roughly. Some of them do not have a great time of it, somewhat graphic descriptions of torture they endure pervade the book. Reminded me of Dick Francis's poor heroes. It is beautifully written, the description of the great wall of China, and the work required to keep it in good order shone, bringing a touch of reality to this fantasy.
The acceptance of manners and how one ought to behave governs the actions of these people.
The book is not in the least like Mulan, the Disney film set in the same background of Chinese versus Mongol war. However, the heroes are the Chinese and the villains the Mongols in both. In other circumstances, one might conclude a war between two races. But in the book both have the unpleasant methods of tyranny, neither being altogether heroic in nature. The use of burying of horseshoes at the entrance way we have more commonly seen in this country as being nailed to the doorway for luck to be contained within the household. Magic near to a hero induces migraines rather like Robert Graves' Theseus heralds earthquakes.
My emotions were enlisted by the heroes and I wanted to follow the story of each, while the chapters switched between them, often, as they reached a point where a serial film of old would switch at a cliff hanger. This kept the action at a pace suitable for the modern reader. This is, however, a full- length book, perhaps the first they have encountered. A solid read I am glad to have read and I can recommend it thoroughly to anyone other than those identifying with the Mongols, the putative evildoers. Readers may find it useful to note the names of the characters until well into the book to keep them clear in the mind."
Ann Mair, British Fantasy Society, May 2019