Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Da Mo Yao (Ballad of the Desert) by Tong Hua

Ballad of the Desert
Title: Da Mo Yao (Ballad of the Desert)
Author: Tong Hua
My ratings: 5 out of 5 stars
Released: 2011
Once in a while you read a book and that simply compels you to start writing about it. Da Mo Yao is this kind of book. Rarely has a story left such an impact on me this did. I am moved occasionally by a well written book but never has a book left me bawling in my room. Yes, that’s the impact this book had on me. Let me start from the beginning.

Da Mo Yao is a Chinese novel written by famous writer, Tong Hua. She is immensely popular in China and many of her other books have been made into TV series. Unfortunately, I can’t read even the C of Chinese but a blogger (A Koala’s Playground) whom I follow, decided to translate the book word to word from Chinese to English.

Yu Jin is an orphan who has grown up amongst a pack of wolves in the Gobi Dessert. One day when she is 8 years old, she is recused by a Han civilian who tries to teach her how to be a human. However she grows up in a Xiong Nu settlement, the enemies of the Han Kingdom. One day due to political reason her adoptive father dies and she is again forced to leave the lives of human and go back to being a wolf again. But one day she decided to fulfil her dead father’s wish to go back to the Han Kingdom and live as a Han citizen. On her way to the Han city Chang’An she meets two fellow travellers, Meng Jiu and Xiao Huo.

 She safely arrives at Chang’An and meets them again but it turns out that Meng Jiu is the heir to a vast business enterprise in the city and Xiao Huo is the famous Han warrior, Huo Qu Bing. Hence slowly the story unfolds and we get to her how her romance unfolds with both the guys who are so viscerally different from each other but affect Yu Jin so deeply.

Yu Jin is one of the strongest heroines I have read about in any romantic story. This story is set in 200BC but Yu Jin’s wit, intelligence and adaptively never fails to amaze me. She is a wolf girl yet she is sensible and yet passionate. Tong Hua managed to create a heroine who is not only relatable but fun too. She has so much determination that is she sets her mind on something, and then she will follow it till the end.

Meng Ju was a loyal, quiet brooding character who was crippled from childhood. Burdened by his responsibilities and his position he can quietly supports Yu Jin and everything.

Huo Qu Bing is one of my favourite romance heros. Ever. He was passionate, wild, endearing, charming and everything a girl could ask for. Huo Qu Bing was a force to be reckoned with. In fact he is real life Han Dynasty General who is celebrated throughout China even today. Therefore all the wars and conquests described in the story are real life historical event even is the romance is fictional.
Yes, there is a love triangle but at no point was Yu Jin being stupid or irrational with her feeling so it was not annoying in the least. She had two men who loved her, one who was the quiet protector who loves her from afar, steadfast and loyal. And on the other hand you have the charming, boisterous, funny and passionate Huo Qu Bing.

The story is obviously has many political plot lines intertwined with the story but they was not boring in the least and were intrinsic with the plot.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I never thought I’d like it so much. I took a chance and it paid off. The writing is beautiful and I can only imagine what the original text would be like if the translation was beautiful. This book opens up many horizons and made me realise that I don’t have to limit myself to only the English Language books.

This book is a must read for any romance novel fan who wants to try something different. If I’m able to get even one person to try this book, I believe that this post is a success.

Here is a link to all the book chapters on A Koala’s Playground ans scroll right to the bottom of the page.


Joyce Chua on May 16, 2016 at 6:28 AM said...

Late to the game, but I recently just finished watching the show and am completely obsessed with it! I've bought the books (the original) and can't wait to devour them. From what I've read of the English version, the show stays quite true to the books.

I enjoyed reading your review! If you'd like, you can read my review at :)

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