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Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest [Paperback]

Albert A. Dalia
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Pleasure Boat Studio (15 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1929355343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1929355341
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,361,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert A. Dalia is a scholar of medieval Chinese history, longtime resident of East Asia (Taipei, Beijing, and Tokyo), and practitioner of various Chinese arts who has turned his decades of life experience into fiction writing. He has a great interest in the art of the story and the "art of immersion" in storytelling. Besides his academic writing, he has published a collection of Chinese style ghost stories (Strange Tales from the Dragon Gate Inn) and two historical fiction novels (first one: Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest) in the Chinese wuxia (heroic fiction) style. His latest novel (Listening to Rain) is the beginning of an adventure trilogy (The Adventures of the Shaolin Blade Tanzong) set in early 7th century China. Albert is an avid international cyclist and teaches in the Boston University Writing Program. Visit him at his website: www.aadalia.com

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest, Albert A. Dalia's impressive debut novel, presents readers with a magical blend of fantasy, history, and Chinese mythology. Western literature has only just begun to tap into the wellspring of Far Eastern tradition and mythology, especially China's "tales of wonder," which seem almost tailor-made for the fantasy genre, but Albert A. Dalia has already drunk deeply from its refreshing waters. Don't let that word "Daoist" scare you off; I couldn't have told you what it meant, either - although I do know there is absolutely nothing "simplistic" about it or this novel. Heck, we're talking about universal concepts of existence here, mixing it up with profound insights into the very essence of life and dancing around enlightenment itself.

Dalia builds his story around Li Bo (or Li Bai), one of China's most celebrated poets. History tells us that Li Bo, who lived in the 8th century, got himself exiled from the imperial court, then likely perished in the Yangtze River soon afterward. Dalia's fantasy begins where history ends, introducing readers to Li Bo and his faithful warrior companion Ah Wu as they set out along the Yangtze River on their way to Li Bo's probable death in the dangerous land of his exile. The possibility of impending death doesn't bother Li Bo too much, though, for he is much more concerned with finding the poetic muse that will reawaken the inner poetry he has lost. Whatever inner magic helped him conjure up such immortal poems as Drinking Alone by Midnight is now gone. That is why he makes a point of visiting the mysterious Dragon Pool Temple along the way; the next morning, he leaves the place with the famed Dragon Pool Sword and a mission to deliver it to the Rain Goddess on her sacred mountain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All this...and a drunken monkey! 10 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
The great poet, Li Bo, has been ordered into exile, but on his way out of the Empire he decides to stop at Dream Temple, "a place where dreams bring peace to troubled hearts." But, the dream vision he receives sends him and his friend Ah Wu on a quest to bring the magical Dragon Pool Sword to the Rain Goddess on Mount Wu. And so, Li Bo sets out on an epic quest that will lead him through life and death, and choices...and back again.

OK, Where do I start? I have read and enjoyed a few pieces of Chinese literature before, and found them interesting, if heavy, going (most notably Chang Hsi-kuo's city trilogy). This book was written by Albert A. Dalia, a Western scholar and traveler with two masters degrees and a Ph.D. in Chinese history and religion, and it ably succeeds in bringing a Chinese story home to a Western reader.

The story is set in eighth-century China, but it is the China of legend. Through his quest, Li Bo and the reader meet ghosts and dragons, magical assassins and potent shamanesses, magic swords and Immortals...oh yeah, and a drunken monkey. The story itself is quite excellent, being equal to any of the recent wuxia movies coming out (including House of Flying Daggers, which I highly enjoyed).

So, let me sum up by saying that this is an excellent fantasy story, a wonderful Chinese-style story that brings Chinese culture and religion within the grasp of a Western reader, and a very entertaining read. All this...and a drunken monkey. Come on, you know you *have* to read this book!

I loved this book, and give it my highest recommendations!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary and wondrous tale 26 July 2007
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Wine and dreams are at the heart of this remarkable novel. Frankly I have never read anything like it. Dalia who is a Chinese scholar has recreated a style and a world view long gone from this realm, a style that interprets the world as dream and mystery, a style that celebrates Dao as an occult religion.

The form of the novel is a quest. Li Bo, a celebrated poet from the eighth century of the current era, whose drunkenness has led to his banishment from the imperial court, is the central character. He has lost his power with words. He is a poet who can no longer rhyme, to whom metaphors no longer occur. He and his warrior companion, Ah Wu, are traveling west as the adventure begins. What will they find? Will they encounter the Daoist immortals? And what does it mean to acquire the Dragon Pool Sword? Is it a curse as Ah Wu believes or an instrument to bring about heavenly recognition to Li Bo and perhaps a return to the imperial court with his poetic powers restored?

Dalia's prose, like those of a fairy tale master, immerses the reader in the mists of the long ago, into a world in which ghosts and dragons, shamanesses and wondrous magicians, goddesses and monsters, exist in reality as they do in myth. He recalls a vision of this world in which there is no line drawn between the mysterious and the mundane, between the world of spirit and that of mortal flesh. The gods and the goddesses are real. Monkeys can catch ghosts and creatures such as the Albino Swordsman can enter your dreams and kill you while you lie sleeping. The dragon can assume horrific forms, terrible and awesome to the eyes. And mortals can mingle with immortals.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Only More Historians Wrote Such Fine Stories 22 May 2007
By William Porter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have known Albert over thirty years, and Li Bo longer. And I've been waiting for this book for more moons than I have hairs left on my head. The wait was worth it, though I hope the next one won't take so long to reach me. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this journey. But then again, I'm so out of touch with the times, sharing, as I do, Albert's love of the Tang. Meanwhile, I will be keeping an eye out for the glint of a sword blade, the next time I travel through the Yangtze Gorges.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Jedi you'll like wuxia 8 Jan 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is my wife's account, my name is Dawud.

I bought this book because I'm interested in wuxia literature after having been into wuxia films and comics for years. I'd never read a wuxia novel all the way through before. Most of those I knew about don't have English translations and are subject to gradual fan translations online. So when I heard of Mr Dalia's work I was eagerly anticipating it. I was not in the least disappointed.

I'm a huge Star Wars fan, and I've been reading Star Wars novels for the last 14 years and in recent years I've been really noting the similarities between Star Wars and wuxia ever since I became interested in wuxia. So Star Wars novels were a good introduction for me into this genre I'd say, and reading Dream of the Dragon Pool was like putting on familiar clothing with a different design and maybe a bit more vintage.

Dream of the Dragon Pool really drives home for me how wuxia Star Wars is, especially when it comes to the use of chi in the martial arts. The first time Wang Ah Wu uses his chi to boost his awareness of his surroundings I was reminded of the way Jedi are written to use the Force for the same thing. This book is a must read for Star Wars fans. I also highly recommend it to anyone interested in wuxia fiction in general... and people who have an interest in Chinese culture and martial arts.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary and wondrous tale 26 July 2007
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wine and dreams are at the heart of this remarkable novel. Frankly I have never read anything like it. Dalia who is a Chinese scholar has recreated a style and a world view long gone from this realm, a style that interprets the world as dream and mystery, a style that celebrates Dao as an occult religion.

The form of the novel is a quest. Li Bo, a celebrated poet from the eighth century of the current era, whose drunkenness has led to his banishment from the imperial court, is the central character. He has lost his power with words. He is a poet who can no longer rhyme, to whom metaphors no longer occur. He and his warrior companion, Ah Wu, are traveling west as the adventure begins. What will they find? Will they encounter the Daoist immortals? And what does it mean to acquire the Dragon Pool Sword? Is it a curse as Ah Wu believes or an instrument to bring about heavenly recognition to Li Bo and perhaps a return to the imperial court with his poetic powers restored?

Dalia's prose, like those of a fairy tale master, immerses the reader in the mists of the long ago, into a world in which ghosts and dragons, shamanesses and wondrous magicians, goddesses and monsters, exist in reality as they do in myth. He recalls a vision of this world in which there is no line drawn between the mysterious and the mundane, between the world of spirit and that of mortal flesh. The gods and the goddesses are real. Monkeys can catch ghosts and creatures such as the Albino Swordsman can enter your dreams and kill you while you lie sleeping. The dragon can assume horrific forms, terrible and awesome to the eyes. And mortals can mingle with immortals.

To write such a novel requires a child-like love of mystical adventure combined with a deep understanding of the subconscious of human beings. It requires a love for the legends and the mysteries of the past. Dalia's quest is to take us back to the supernatural world that existed for the people who lived during the time of the Tang dynasty and to allow that consciousness to invade our minds and envelop us in wonder and mystery. His is a splendid accomplishment, a fantasy rich in imagination and history, an atmospheric tale charged with the phantasmagoric.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked and nefarious enemies and wondrous adventure flow from this exotic and utterly enthralling tale. 4 Nov 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Written by Albert A. Dalia, a scholar of medieval Chinese history and culture for four decades, Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest is an amazing novel based on the historical death-sentence exile of China's beloved poet-adventurer Li Bo (also Li Bai, 701-762 A.D.). A fanciful tale of myth and wonder, told as traditional Chinese-style heroic fiction, Dream of the Dragon Pool follows Li Bo on his journey toward certain death in faraway Burma/Myanmar. Unconcerned about the threat of his imminent demise, Li Bo sees his travels as a quest for poetic inspiration. Along the way he befriends the emperor's most powerful shamaness, accidentally awakens the horrific Blood Dragon and its ghostly slaves, and stumbles into possession of the coveted and legendary Dragon Pool Sword after a dream visit from a Daoist Immortal. Wicked and nefarious enemies and wondrous adventure flow from this exotic and utterly enthralling tale.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and engrossing blend of fantasy and Chinese mythology 31 July 2007
By Daniel Jolley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest, Albert A. Dalia's impressive debut novel, presents readers with a magical blend of fantasy, history, and Chinese mythology. Western literature has only just begun to tap into the wellspring of Far Eastern tradition and mythology, especially China's "tales of wonder," which seem almost tailor-made for the fantasy genre, but Albert A. Dalia has already drunk deeply from its refreshing waters. Don't let that word "Daoist" scare you off; I couldn't have told you what it meant, either - although I do know there is absolutely nothing "simplistic" about it or this novel. Heck, we're talking about universal concepts of existence here, mixing it up with profound insights into the very essence of life and dancing around enlightenment itself.

Dalia builds his story around Li Bo (or Li Bai), one of China's most celebrated poets. History tells us that Li Bo, who lived in the 8th century, got himself exiled from the imperial court, then likely perished in the Yangtze River soon afterward. Dalia's fantasy begins where history ends, introducing readers to Li Bo and his faithful warrior companion Ah Wu as they set out along the Yangtze River on their way to Li Bo's probable death in the dangerous land of his exile. The possibility of impending death doesn't bother Li Bo too much, though, for he is much more concerned with finding the poetic muse that will reawaken the inner poetry he has lost. Whatever inner magic helped him conjure up such immortal poems as Drinking Alone by Midnight is now gone. That is why he makes a point of visiting the mysterious Dragon Pool Temple along the way; the next morning, he leaves the place with the famed Dragon Pool Sword and a mission to deliver it to the Rain Goddess on her sacred mountain. Ah Wu considers the sword dangerous, but Li Bo is determined to fulfill his new, sacred quest.

The men soon meet a fellow traveler and his ghost-catching, alcohol-loving monkey (yes, you read that correctly) both of whom can be good to have around when danger beckons, which it does in the form of an assassin capable of killing people within their very own dreams and a Blood Dragon anxious to get her hands on the unmatched sword. Throw in the emperor's favorite shamaness attempting to flee to the Rain Goddess' sacred mountain, as well, and you've got yourself quite an engrossing adventure. The emotional heart of the story, though, is Chen, the ghost of a young woman. Bound to do the will of the Blood Dragon, she must befriend and betray Li Bo (whose true identity is unknown to her) against her will; what makes her struggle all the more poignant is the fact that her only remaining solace in her ghostly life is Li Bo's poetry.

There is plenty of action and excitement, on both land and sea, as Li Bo attempts to fulfill his quest and deliver the Dragon Pool Sword to the Rain Goddess on Mount Wu. All of the characters are wonderfully developed, while the backdrop of this ancient land and time makes for a wonderfully exotic setting for such a fantastic tale. As a long-time scholar of medieval Chinese history, Dalia really knows this long-ago world he is recreating and brings it vividly to life. If you're a fantasy fan looking for something a little different, or someone with an interest in Chinese history and mythology, or if you just appreciate a well-written novel, you'll want to undertake this Daoist quest alongside the great poet Li Bo. Dream of the Dragon Pool is a wonderfully engaging novel.
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