The genres that encompass the broader category of fantasy are experiencing a powerful resurgence in entertainment and media. From movies, television shows, to books, and video games, the demand for fantasy content has rocketed in the last decade or so. Not anymore is it just for children. Adults are consuming more and more fantasy material. This is where my work comes in. But first, I’d like to express my big thanks to Author’s Lounge for allowing me to have this opportunity to share my work as an author and artist.
When a person thinks about fantasy, what comes to mind? Usually it is images of dragons, dwarves, elves, knights, and various other mythical creatures. We see gorgeous landscapes, grand displays of magic and sorcery, illustrations of wondrous architecture, and lots of fictional lore taught as history. These are what we imagine from the books, movies, and video games we consume. George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, or the classics of JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are some of the biggest names in fantasy today. The vast majority of these fantasy works have two things in common: 1) they’re built off of elements from Western traditions, and 2) They’re all completely fictional.
I decided to do something different as an author: combine my love for history with an awesome fantasy story. My tetralogy “Trials of the Middle Kingdom” (TOMK) is a historical fantasy series set in medieval China. Think GOT or Lord of the Rings, but in an actual time period in a very real place. Why medieval China? The main reason is that it has a very rich 5,000 year history. This history provides an abundance of materials with which an author could build amazing stories. Chinese civilization is still somewhat niche even in academia; this makes Chinese history fresh ground for lots of content. This is why Chinese filmmakers create so many movies set in some period in premodern China. With my books I wanted to play a small role in piquing interests of fellow fantasy and history lovers in the West. This is why I wrote The Sage, the Swordsman and the Scholars. I decided to write the book I would want to read.
Fantasy books are full of history and lore, almost all of which are fictional. “Trials of the Middle Kingdom” utilizes the key points and figures of Chinese history and presents it to the reader as the story’s official lore. While certain liberties were taken in this history, TOMK follows the Confucian tradition of Chinese historiography and serves as the foundation of the story’s lore, as well as draws inspiration from ancient China’s rich philosophical heritage.
So what is Trials of the Middle Kingdom all about?
It’s set in the late 15th century during the Ming Dynasty. The reader follows the story of a legendary wandering swordsman and a political cabal of vigilantes known as the “Martial Scholars” as they investigate the maritime arrival of a mysterious nonhuman military force. After they conduct an investigation on the foreigners, they discover the truth about their agenda and a conspiracy against the emperor and the entire Ming Empire. Through careful planning and utilization of their deep network, they succeed in warning the emperor who then prepares the nation for the possibility of war. First however, he must quell the Underworld where rebel groups and secret societies have risen against him, and conspire with the nonhuman foreigners to create a new world order. Together with a motley crew of misfits, the legendary swordsman ventures into the Underworld to discover the deeper plans of the enemy. His new friend, an enigmatic sage insists that the real battle is, in fact, a spiritual one, and that victory lies only through following the will of Heaven.
The story branches out beyond China, and reaches the shores of Japan, the Philippine kingdoms, Malaysia, and even Korea. There’s tons of martial arts action, scenes of epic warfare, some key twists, and a style of storytelling that moves at an accelerated pace. Through my on-going book series and the related artwork I made for its media kit, I hope to bring Asian culture and history to the spotlight, and help readers gain interest and an understanding of Asian civilizations through something fun, engaging, and entertaining.