Review of Quang Van Nguyen’s Fourth Uncle in the Mountain

Abandoned by his mother, who is unable to provide for him in a Vietnam riven by the grim struggle against colonialism, Quang van Nguyen is adopted by an elderly Buddhist doctor who specializes in Chinese style medicine, mixed with a variety of animist practices and with the aptitude to take care of all the people he comes across in an itinerant lifestyle. The doctor becomes a father to young Quang and encourages him to follow in his footsteps as a barefoot doctor, one who aims to possess nothing but who will occasionally accept gifts and hospitality from grateful patients.

Read the full review here.

Review of Kuhn’s Soulstealers

The reign of Hungli, the Ch’ien-lung Emperor, was one of the greatest of Chinese history and is remembered for the extent and longevity of his administration of the empire, as well as the process taken towards modernization that coincided with the reign. As a representative of the Manchu Dynasty, Hungli was acutely aware of the need to preserve the outwards signs of difference and the need to integrate the ruling classes and their distinctive characteristics into the bureaucratic state.

Read the full review here.

Review of Katz’s The Occult Tradition

People have, throughout history, sought to bend the physical world to their will in one way or another. When they beseech supernatural beings to change the laws of nature for the benefit of the member of an exclusive club, this is called religion and is not only considered a good thing but also privileged under the law in most societies.

Read the full review here.

Review of Wolfe’s Soldier of Sidon

It seems that the authentic Gene Wolfe book contains certain recurrent features: it is told in the first person; the narrator is unreliable through choice, inadequacy, or for structural reasons; important facts and features creep into and out of the narrative with a whimper rather than a bang and so forth, among other things. Soldier of Sidon certainly follows this pattern: it takes up the story of Latro (or Lucius), who has previously appeared in Latro in the Mist and Soldier of Arete, who is a capable soldier cursed by waking up each morning with no memory of his life or, indeed, much else.

Read the full review here.

Romances of Shakespeare: The Tempest

The Tempest is one of the most magical of Shakespeare’s plays – quite literally, since the central character Prospero is a magician and the play is full of spells, charms and supernatural creatures. The play was first staged in 1611 and has been a favourite of audiences ever since, in part because it is the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays in terms of lines and it obeys the unity of time – that is, the action that the play describes takes place in exactly the amount of time it takes to stage it.

Read the full article here.