Author: Jeff Stone
The year is 1650 AD. A hidden monastery in China that trains warrior monks is under attack. Fu and his four brothers are the youngest masters of their respective animal kung-fu: Tiger, Monkey, Snake, Crane, and Dragon. When their temple is destroyed by a traitor, they are the only ones left alive. Now it is up to them to protect the Dragon scrolls, save their own lives, and somehow redeem the one who has destroyed their home.
Fu, the Tiger, is the focus of this first story, and he makes an endearing lead. Heavyset, grumpy, and instinct-driven, he doesn’t exactly come off as a master of his art. He doesn’t like thinking too hard or talking too much. But he’s willing to take risks to do what he thinks is right, and he’s also willing to apologize when he turns out to be in the wrong.
The fighting is lavishly detailed and flows like a movie. It’s easy to visualize every action sequence. Equally of interest to me was the fact that the characters show a lot of depth, including a few who are more than they seem. I am particularly intrigued by the Grandmaster’s command to the five boys to turn Ying good again, if it’s possible, rather than kill him. Killing him would certainly be enough of a challenge, but the Grandmaster isn’t interested in turning his students on to the same kind of blood vendetta that’s driving Ying.
This is short enough to read in one sitting but intriguing enough that it’s a good idea to have the sequels handy, as it will be hard to stop after just one. I rate this book Recommended.