Somewhere on the internets, I saw Jade Dragon Mountain recommended by an author that I follow (honestly, I can’t even remember who that was right now). I thought the cover was beautiful so I read the synopsis online. It wasn’t my typical read – set in 1700’s China – but it intrigued me. When I was able to find a used copy, I immediately added it to my huge TBR pile.
Li Du is a fascinating character. He was exiled years ago by the Emperor for, well, being near someone who was found guilty of treason. Being exiled meant that he was making his way out of the country. When he comes to Dayan, on the Tibetan border, he announces himself as required to the local magistrate who happens to be his cousin. Little does he know that in a few short days the Emperor is expected in Dayan for a solar eclipse festival. He does his best to get out of town before the Emperor arrives but when a Jesuit priest is murdered, Li Du finds that he is the only one willing to investigate the death.
And, oh yeah, Li Du is a librarian who loves books.
The story is engaging and includes just the right amount of mystery and intrigue. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.
Well, to be fair, it isn’t really bad. But…while reading the first page I almost considered DNF’ing. That’s right. Page one. The problem? Purple prose. It was so purple.
“Beyond the city to the north, a mountain emerged slowly into the dawn. Its base was blue and featureless, a shape without dimension against a brightening sky. But on the distant summit, the snow and ice glowed golden pink in anticipation of sunrise.”
Listen, I know some people love this type of writing and are thinking I’m a heathen. It just isn’t for me. In this case, I was able to adjust and get used to it. There were only a few passages throughout that made me roll my eyes.
However, I will admit that the story and Li Du’s character more than made up for this and I am very excited to read book two.