Author: Jeff Stone
Long has won the championship, but at the cost of several injuries and a price on his head. Now that Tonglong has secured many allies, as well as the jade swords and armor set, he marches to his ultimate destination: the Forbidden City. The seat of the Emperor. Can the members of the Resistance break Tonglong’s evil plans?
I like several things about this series. I like how good the historical detail is: everything from clothing to cities to using Chinese names for things like guns. I like how realistic the story is portraying fights and injuries and how long it takes to heal, thus demonstrating vividly why even a master is not quick to jump into a fight (especially when it’s kung fu against guns). I like the mix of nationalities, Dutch and Chinese, and how those tensions play into the story. I like the complex web of relationships, betrayals, and counter-betrayals.
Long’s story is in many ways as atypical as the rest of the series. He’s not even able to do too much in the beginning thanks to all the injuries he sustained during the pit fight in the previous book. Like Seh, he’s a plotter, gathering information and positioning himself before he makes his move. I found his fight against the bandits particularly interesting, as a movie would portray the Dragon master easily toppling a handful of men with bows and pistols; the book, in contrast, shows how very human even someone with Long’s abilities is.
As a finale, this does a nice job. Most of the loose ends tied up; the only thing I really noticed that got dropped was Malao never reacting to Bing as the one who killed his father—I don’t remember anyone telling Malao how or why it happened, so he took to her a little too easily, considering. I liked what happened with Ying particularly, as it proved he really had changed.
Overall this was a very quick read, like all the rest. If you’ve followed the series at all until now, this will be a satisfying conclusion. I rate this book Recommended.