Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jade Tiger by Jenn Reese


I recently subscribed to a blog called SF Novelists. One of the contributors wrote a blog entry that really made me think. In summary, Ms. Reese would prefer if the way a character fights reveals a deeper insight into that character. Check out the actual blog post here, Pushing Your Punches.

Hey, what an interesting concept!

I decided to learn more about this author, and discovered that after joining up just five or so years ago, she has become a very serious practitioner of martial arts. And, using her new knowledge, she wrote a fiction book called Jade Tiger.

Well, this summary describes me, too (started martial arts about five years ago, and in that time have become more and more into it, and I have a fictional character who puts to use the martial arts I learn in reality).

So I couldn't resist buying Jade Tiger to see what the author did with her character. Here's my short and simple review: This book is a fast-paced, modern day pulp. If you want to be wowed by displays of martial art that supersede our own dull world, Shan Westfall is your heroine.

Stop Reading For No Spoilers
While I identified with the male lead, an archaeologist, and probably would have been just as much "in worship" of Shan as he instantly was, the unfolding relationship these two enjoyed seemed a little too destined, and a little too rushed. Of course, the whole book was that way--a rush (in the best sense of the word). So I suppose it was of a piece with the narrative.

I actually quite appreciated that the story didn't explore finding each and every piece (5 total) of the missing artifacts Shane sought--after one such sideline to discover a piece called the Dragon, the characters relatively quickly find themselves in the conclave of the mad martial-artist-villain. Here we get to enjoy several sweet fights in fast succession, a consummation of the building romance, and a demonstration of the fully armed and operational Jade Circle, in the villain's hands.

Overall I quite enjoyed this story and give it thumbs up.
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