This was a translated version of the second major Chinese mythological epic that I read recently, the other being W.J.F. Jenner's excellent translation of "Journey to the West" (reviewed elsewhere, and equally worth reading). "Creation of the Gods" is a story in two volumes (over a thousand pages in total).
Based on true historical events in ancient China three thousand years ago but given a major mythical twist, "Creation of the Gods" (or more accurately "Canonization of the Gods") tells the story of the rebellion against, and the fall of, the degenerate and tyranical last emperor of the Shang Dynasty, the rise of the benevolent first emperor of the Zhou Dynasty, and the subsequent canonization of the fallen warriors of both sides as gods in the Chinese pantheon.
The story begins with King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty visiting the temple of Goddess Nu Wa, the creator of mankind, and insulting her with his lust by writing a love poem dedicated to her on the temple wall. Greatly angered, the Goddess sends a beautiful fox-spirit to bewitch the king, causing him to indulge in all kinds of evil deeds and sensual pleasures, and to neglect his official affairs. Encouraged by the fox-spirit, the king becomes increasingly degenerate and cruel, causing his officials to renounce him and to rebel against the Shang dynasty one after another, pledging their allegiance to King Wu of the Zhou dynasty and his prime minister, Jiang Ziya.
Bulk of the book deals with the war between forces loyal to the dying Shang dynasty and those of the rising Zhou dynasty. Warriors with magical powers are applenty, and Chinese readers should have no problem recognising their beloved folk heroes and mythical gods, including such colorful characters as the Third Prince Nezha with his three heads and eight arms and his magical weapons (a lance, a ring, a coverlet and a pair of fire wheels) and his brothers Jinzha and Muzha, the warrior god Yang Jian (also called the Little Sage Erlang in "Journey to the West") with his all-seeing mystical third eye, 72 magical transformations and his immortal demon-subduing dog (hey, the Chinese had a superdog three thousand years before Superman had Krypto!), Thunderbolt the thunder god, the four Heavenly Kings (commonly seen as temple guardians in Chinese Buddhist temples) and Li Jing, the pagoda bearing heavenly general. These characters also make cameo appearances in "Journey to the West" (another good read!).
The chapters do get repetitive at times, with King Zhou committing ever more heinous crimes (such as tying loyal officials to red-hot burning bronze pillars for admonishing his behaviour, gouging the eyes of his queen and burning off her hands, cutting out the heart of his uncle, forcing his chief political rival to eat buns made from the flesh of said rival's own son, throwing innocent palace maids into pits full of poisonous snakes, cutting the legs off innocent citizens and splitting the bellies of pregnant women, to quote a few unsavory examples), while various and sundry warriors, magicians and spirits loyal to the Shang dynasty attempt to destroy the advancing Zhou army. Still, I managed to read both volumes in less than a week, enthralled as I was with the unfolding story of the march of the rebel forces towards Zhaoge, the capital of the Shang dynasty.
For lovers of Chinese classics, this two-volume epic is a must for your collection. For others unfamiliar with Chinese mythology and folk religion, the book may be a little difficult to appreciate at times, as it is chock-full of unbelievable superhuman feats from cover to cover. Now you know why "all Chinese people fly" in Chinese swords and sorcery/fantasy movies. *grin*