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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan by Hildi Kang







 

Summary:
Chengli is an orphaned errand boy who lives in Chang’an China in 630 A.D. His mother has died from illness and his father is presumed dead after disappearing into the desert when Chengli was a baby.
Now thirteen, Chengli feels ready for independence. He is drawn to the desert, beckoned by the howling of strange winds and the hope of learning something about his father—who he was and how he died.

Chengli joins the caravan to travel down the merchant route known as the Silk Road, but it is a dangerous life, as his father knew. The desert is harsh, and there are many bandits, particularly drawn to Chengli’s caravan because a princess, her servants, and royal guards are traveling with them.
This story invites readers to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this fabled desert route.
Summary taken from Goodreads.com

So I took a trip to China for my around the world challenge and I managed to go back in time as well. Our maincharaqchter is a 13 year old boy named Chengli who was orphaned as a baby and raised by an elderly woman named "Old Cook". He spends his days delivering silk for the merchant he works for with his companion Little Limp until one day the urge to find information about his father leads him to quitting his job and joining up with a caravan that will travel 2,000 miles from where he'a grown up.

The road is long and the days are harsh, Chengli has to battle exhaustion all the time. Plus the fact that he's got to deal with an annoying child princess, the threat of bandits, and the fact that the boy he thought of as his friend Fourth Brother is stealing and Chengli can't do anything to stop him.

Mile after mile the days begin to wear on him but after a brief stop in a town he becomes friends with the bratty princess and still manages to seek information about his dead father but he recieves very little information at all.

At another stop the Caravan is attacked by brigands and the princess is stolen. Chengli risks his own life in pursuit of her but becomes injured. As he slowly begins to heal and his story spreads the people that have taken care of him and he recieves information bit by bit about where the princess is. Soon he is well enough to pursue her and rescue her from her captors and with the help of his new found friends he finds her and frees her and in the process avoids death serval times to find a man who knew his father.

The princess goes on her way to meet the king she was supposed to be married and Chengli returns to his home town knowing that his life is forever changed and that he's made a life lng friend in this once bratty princess.

I liked the idea of the story more than I liked the writing itself. It was not written badly I just didn't feel that it flowed at times and I found it to progress fairly slowly despite being a tale of adventure the writing seemed stiff. I did like the characters though and I like how both the Princess and Chengli evolved ad grew up as their circumstances changed. Both in the end showed that they had an inner strength to them that was not evident before.

I feel that this book while I didn't like it as much as I wanted would be perfectly suited for 10-12 year olds, as it expose the readers to a time and culture they might not already be familiar with.

*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review.

★ ★ 1/2

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