Set in the distant past of 14th century China, ‘The Ming Admiral: A Chinese Odyssey’ by Mee-mee Phipps is a spellbinding tale about a boy named ZhengHe who faces many hardships and adversaries along his journey to fulfill his dreams. The story is rich with accurate historical facts from this period in Chinese history, which grounds the story in a realistic and pleasing way. The details about the Chinese elite, such as the emperors, admirals, and soldiers who fill the pages cause the story to have a certain sense of urgency, as the oppression they so often impose upon the characters fighting to get by gives a significant emotional weight to any instant in which ZhengHe succeeds.
Since this story is so rich in Chinese history, names, places, and events, this is a wonderful read for anyone who is a lover of Chinese culture. Even if you are not familiar with much about the Chinese, Phipps has written her story in such a way that is accessible to anyone. Her passion for historical fiction shines through the narrative, as you can tell her research about the facts present that serve as marking posts in the story are thoroughly thought out. The book is a little bit dense, as there are many characters to keep track of, but each are described in such a way that you will be able to remember them. ZhengHe grows throughout the narrative, falling in love and losing himself, only to find his true calling once again with the help of his master. All in all, this is a wonderful book that is a true testament to the author’s strengths in writing such a well-organized and complex tale in the genre of Chinese historical fiction.
This title has yet to be released – look for it soon!