Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Book Review: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny by Wang Dulu and Justin Hill

Another life-altering quest, another struggle between honor and lust for power, another generation of warriors forging alliances and enmities. The adventure, romance, and artistry of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon continues in this novelized companion to the first ever Netflix debut film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny based on the novel by Wang Dulu.

Seventeen years after the legendary fighter Mubai dies protecting the world-conquering sword The Green Destiny, four great warriors are called together to guard the formidable weapon once more. The forces surrounding the sword irrevocably altered the life of Shulien, Mubai’s lover, but seventeen years later she is still honor-bound to defend the blade from the power-hungry warlord Hades Dai. The young fighters Wei-fang and Snow Vase, switched at birth, also have heritages and inheritances that inextricably link them to both each other and the fate of the sword. And Silent Wolf, Shulien’s former fiancé, returns from presumed death to thwart Hades Dai—and rekindle an emotionally isolated Shulien’s feelings.

Jam-packed with all the hallmarks of an epic adventure—sacrifice, battles, betrayal, vengeance, redemption, and destiny—this saga also explores the deeper meaning of true heroism and virtue. As Wei-fang and Snow Vase search for identity and forge their places in the world of warriors and heroes, Shu-lien and Silent Wolf struggle to reconcile both the traditions and heartbreak of the past with a fragile hope for the future.
I was just a teenager when I first saw the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  I had never seen a film like it before and it captured my imagination and gave me a new found respect for foreign cinema.  It has been about sixteen years since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came out in British cinemas and now it is back in a big way with a new film called Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny coming out on Netflix in February.  Alongside the film release, we are also being treated to the book written by Wang Dulu and Booker Prize nominee Justin Hill.
I have never read a book like this one before.  It is strange to read something completely new which features characters I know well from somewhere else.  It was great to see what happened to some of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's best loved and most iconic characters.  Both Shulien and Jiaolong are back in this sequel and there is also a host of brand new characters as well. 
For the most part, I liked Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of destiny.  I wanted to love it but it didn't grip me as much as I would have liked.  I thought the storyline was good and I enjoyed how everything came together.  It was poetic in some places and epic in others, and it was all brought to vivid life with the writing. 
It is the writing that comes out on top.  Everything from the scenery to the epic battles is beautifully written.  Great care has been taken to set a tone for this book and stick with it all the way through. I found all the characters to be well-rounded and interesting.  Out of all the characters, it is Shulien who carried most of the emotional weight.  Much like her role in the movie, she is forced to shelve her own needs in order to carry out her duty.  The moments where she looks back at her life and what she has lost are the most poignant of the whole book.
However, there were times where this book managed to bore me.  It was not always an easy read and sometimes I found myself getting distracted.  There are just moments where this all felt a little slow and I wanted a little more character to the book.  I think it all comes down to taste, as a whole this book didn't always work for me but that is not through a lack of talent on the author's part.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is a beautifully constructed book with some stunning writing.  It just could have used a little more pace at times.

3 stars

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Expected publication: January 26th 2016 by Weinstein Books
A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review. Image courtesy of Goodreads.


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