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on 5 December 2012
If you are new to Chung Kuo...buy the these books, you'll love them! Read the prequels too.

If you've read the original series...still buy the new books, you'll love the story all over again and these new versions are even better than the originals.

The story is terrific and very original (and not a little frightening due how prophetic the premise seems to be becoming!). They are incredibly ambitious works and are always interesting and exciting. Can't wait for the next one - already have it on pre-order.

If you are a fan of Frank Herbert, James Clavell, Peter F Hamilton, David Feintuch, Orson Scott Card etc (like me) then give these a try. The series is like Dune meets Shogun...

For fans of the original series who are unsure whether to read these new versions, I was in the same boat but decided to try them and am so glad I did. There is plenty of new material in here and the re-writes improve the excellent originals.

Looking forward to the remainder of the series and also hopefully some other new original novels by a great writer in David Wingrove...
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on 4 October 2012
It's as good as the original, which I read circa 2002. There are some striking scenes that I can still remember from all those years ago, but a lot of this new version feels new. Still, it remains a very good read.

Unlike the other reviewer, my Kindle book was perfect with all chapters present.
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2196. For more than a century, the Earth has been under the rule of Chung Kuo, a world-spanning civilisation founded by a Chinese warlord using advanced technology. That warlord was later deposed by the T'ang, seven senior rulers who feared his insanity. The T'ang now rule a strictly hierarchical world at peace, but one where the powers of the privileged few are built on a pyramid of oppression and strictly-enforced order. With thirty-six billion people packed into the vast, continent-spanning cities of 'ice' (a nanotech-based material with super-strong properties), the dangers of chaos are all too apparent.

But there is growing discontent in Chung Kuo. Wealthy industrialists and ambitious scientists want change and growth to prevent stagnation. The enforcers of order will not stand for this. When the Minister of the Edict, whose job it is to prevent any drastic change to the order of things, is assassinated, it becomes clear that a war is coming. The War of Two Directions, which could spell a new dawn for humanity or spell its utter extinction.

The Middle Kingdom is the third novel in David Wingrove's revamped Chung Kuo mega-sequence. Originally published in eight volumes in the 1980s and 1990s, the series was abruptly cancelled and the author forced to write a highly unsatisfying quick ending which satisfied no-one. With new publishers Corvus at the helm, Chung Kuo has been recast in twenty volumes, including an all-new beginning and ending. The first two novels, Son of Heaven and Daylight on Iron Mountain, showed the foundation of Chung Kuo and the destruction of the world before, serving as scene-setting prologues. The Middle Kingdom, picking up a hundred years later, is where the story itself really gets started. It's also where the series catches up to the original series, and in fact The Middle Kingdom consists of the first half or so of the original novel of the same name, published in 1988.

This means that you don't need to have read the first two novels to leap straight into The Middle Kingdom. For those who have read the first two books, The Middle Kingdom features a surprising (and welcome) shift in gear. The first two books were extremely fast-paced, with some character development and worldbuilding having to be sacrificed to get through epic events in a reasonable page-count. The Middle Kingdom is slower-paced, with events more deliberately unfolding. Characters are established and explored, the opposing thematic concepts of change and stasis are set up well and complex conspiracies unfold with relish. This doesn't mean the book is devoid of incident, with several assassinations and bombings, some underworld crime machinations and high-level political intrigue making for a busy novel, albeit one that is not as rushed as its predecessors. The pacing is pretty solid, though the later-novel introduction of a whole new major character and situation does betray the book's status as merely the opening salvo in a much vaster tale.

The characters are split between the Chinese and Western-descended inhabitants of the world (those who've read the first two books will know that Africa and the Middle-East did not fare well during the takeover) and such characters are present on both sides of the central thematic argument of the series. Wingrove's characterisation is pretty good, though he tends to lean a little more towards the broad rather than the subtle. Still, it is effective. Wingrove is also non-judgemental (at least at this stage) about his thematic argument: in a society of almost forty billion people, utterly dependent on technology to survive, the dangers of both change and stagnation are clear. With a few exceptions, his characters are not clear-cut good or bad guys either, with both honourable men and the amoral present on both sides of the debate.

The Middle Kingdom (****½) is a highly enjoyable SF novel that leaves the reader eager to read more. It is available now in the UK, with US readers able to order (with free delivery) from the Book Depository. The fourth volume in the series, Ice and Fire, will be published in December.
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on 26 November 2012
I can remember when I first discovered Chung Kuo- it was late 1997 and two pages into it I knew I had found something special. As I raced through the books I was inspired and amused and shocked and, in the end, puzzled. This reboot of the series (which promises finally getting the ending it deserves!) is proving to be everything I hoped it would be. Mr. Wingrove's style is fluid and assured, the pacing is by turns frenetic and luxuriously slow, the characters are memorable and true to life, and the grand scheme is jaw-dropping in scale. If you are looking for a world you can disappear into for 20 volumes, this is it. So far there are no weak spots, and the world of Chung Kuo is becoming more and more intriguing with each chapter. I see the next two books are coming out in rapid succession, and this is good news indeed to those of us who have been waiting for so long to return to Chung Kuo. Kudos, Mr. Wingrove!
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on 5 September 2013
Tsao Ch'un is long dead, the seven T'ang rule the world and change is forbidden!

I like like the way the story develops and new characters come to fore.

A good read, look forward to the next book
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on 1 January 2013
Not quite as good as the first 2, Takes time to get used to new characters but still a fantastic read. I have no idea where this is heading, that's what makes it good, keeps me guessing.
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on 20 January 2013
What a great writer for an awesome time period.
I love the humanity a well as the science parts, most of which seem very likely.
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on 4 June 2015
The item was as described and arrived in the specified time slot
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on 28 January 2013
Competent writing and some interesting ideas, but virtually 'Golden Age' in racial and sexual politics. Perhaps would not bother some people, but threw me 'out of the story' multiple times. As a historian, I'm used to reading things according to their time of origin, and this has some interest as an earlyish and ambitious e.g. of the non-western-future concept. But a culture war in which freedom-loving neoliberal white guys battle and/or collaborate with socially ultra-conservative inscrutable 'orientals' - in a world where women are mothers, sex slaves, amazons or secretaries (who mainly get to die and/or be raped), and sons by prostitutes transcend their base origins by the sheer power of European genetics - is not my kink. No doubt there are 'strong female characters' somewhere in this massive series, certainly the Han characters are not individually caricatures, and appear on both sides of the culture war, but I had to put this book down too often to care.

Having previously read another volume of this series at the time of original publication, I was persuaded by blurbs that the series had been 'updated' for this re-issue, and expected this sort of thing to be made at least somewhat self-aware. The fact that it isn't also highlights the degree of handwaving about the practical side of extreme population pressure, which itself dates the book. Non-western-dominated futures and the impacts of exponential population growth were far-future ideas 20+ years ago, but that's no longer so. In a world where these are current factors, this book just doesn't stand up against the likes of 'The Wind-up Girl'. In short, fair play to those who don't mind these kinds of tropes, but if fridging and cultural determinism bother you, not recommended.
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on 6 March 2013
I loved the first two in this series but did not like this book. I kept waiting for something to happen and to join the various threads of the story. It took a long time to get started and whilst the author must know the various relationships and families it was difficult for me to follow. I couldn't identify or feel for any of the characters - apart from the young boy and he only appeared three quarters of the way into the book.
Such a pity since the first two books held my attention and worked on a really interesting theory and twist of events.
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