Xiang Li is a cultured, rational Chinese Mandarin, Governor of Xinjiang Province. He sees a sign in the skies and falls under a compulsion to travel to the west in the depth of winter. Nothing is clear but that he must hurry.
His journey takes him through the snow-choked passes of the Tian Shan mountains and the searing heat of the Syrian Desert, through ambush by evil tribesmen and the deadly court of King Herod, while ahead of him rises a light in the night sky...
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Book Reviews Winter 2015
The Chinese Magus by Richard Yeo Publisher: Top Hat
ISBN: 978 1 78535 239 3 e-book ISBN: 978 1 78535 240 9
This is a lovely piece of fiction which should be out in January 2016. It's a shame that it won't be out in December, because there are within it links to the Christmas story, but as with so much in this many-layered tale, things are not always as they seem. You will have deduced from the atmosphere of the cover, which is well-chosen and atmospheric, that there are resonances with TS Eliot's poem “Journey of the Magi” which runs in counterpoint through the unfolding story.
The book is full of surprises, as the reader is taken on a journey along the Silk Route and beyond in imagination, a desert journey, an adventure, travelling with strong protagonists and devious villains. The main character is Xiang Li, governor of Xinjiang Province, “arbiter of life and death to a million subjects..........once he went on a long journey, and it changed him, it changed him.”
An able administrator, Xiang Li is the voice of the Emperor in this part of a huge empire, and represents the rule of law in a rigid system founded on Confucianism. An intelligent, politically astute man, Xiang Li is at the same time scholarly and sensitive. However he is unable to express himself emotionally in that role; he does what must be done in the Emperor's name without question.
He embarks on a journey that profoundly affects both his outer and inner life, and during the course of which he passes through a series of initiatory experiences which lead, layer by layer, into the unfolding of a profound mystery entering the lives of the group of travellers. Even as their journey reaches its climax they may not fully understand the import of what they have witnessed, where life is leading them, or why. But therein lies the nature of a Mystery, and the paradoxical nature of experience.
A haunting book that stays in the mind long after reading, its effects are subtle and things are fleetingly revealed as though veils are withdrawn, yet just as swiftly hidden again. Highly recommended.
. ~ The Journal of Inner Light, Review Editor
Xiang Li is an accomplished Confucian bureaucrat - stern and unyeilding.
In this vividly imagined novel, Richard Yeo disrupts Xiang Li's settled, successful life, sending him on a pilgrimage that goes far "outside the narrow constraints that life has shown him".
Pulled forward by mystery, but connected to the rough and tumble of his most unpredictable journey, Xiang Li has an encounter that will change everything in his world.
Clear, engaging prose, with witty dialogue and memorable characters, the story takes the reader into a world that is at once exotic and increasingly familiar... ~ Jennifer Doherty, author of The Unicorn of Holy Island
The Chinese Magus is a compelling evocation of the journey to Bethlehem. Richard Yeo has the gift of taking you right inside the story; the characters are vividly real and come alive in front of your eyes. I felt as if I was taking the journey with them, and was changed by the experience. This is a very special book. ~ Wendy Berg, author of Red Tree, White Tree: Fairies and Humans in Partnership
Elegant, moving, witty and redemptive. ~ Jennifer Doherty, author of The Unicorn of Holy Island
A book that stays in the mind long after the final haunting page, this tale of a Chinese Mage's pilgrimage in search of a half-understood ideal resonates deep within, evoking the frailties and triumphs of life, and enlightenment in all its manifestations. ~ Review Editor , Inner Light Journal
Starlight reveals a hemispherical cupola... it is here that the Magus works his rituals and seeks truth.' From the very beginning, an atmosphere of mysticism, ancient knowledge and ritual - and the life of a world very different from anything we in the modern West might know - permeates this novel. Richard Yeo's tale gradually unfolds - like a message inscribed on ancient parchment. A restrained and subtle elegance of style, interwoven with deep meaning, leads me to think that a new Jan Morris or Umberto Eco has emerged. ~ Stuart Millson, Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review
This is a masterful retelling of a well-known tale in which Xiang Li’s challenging journey through dangerous lands leads to personal transformation and fulfillment.
Xiang Li undertakes a dangerous and challenging journey led only by a mystical compulsion. Accompanied by ancient seer Te Zhu, Xiang survives extreme discomfort and personal danger achieving on the way deep contentment and self-knowledge as he becomes one of the chosen to witness a major historical event.
Yeo draws his readers into a world within a world as he confidently merges the mystical with the manifest on a journey taken two millennia ago. Uncovering physical reserves and mental endurance, ruler Xiang Li is driven forward to pay homage with two other travellers and is rewarded by a life enhancing experience. ~ Pat Elliott BA BSc(Hons) DipPID , Editor, East Borders Living
Richard Yeo’s version of the Nativity approaches the Mystery from a completely different angle. Reading it is like sneaking through a doorway in Time. The colours are intense, the language and characters resonate, the numinous world we find ourselves in is utterly believable. We have a sense that there is more than just a yarn being relayed here, and that the book is more of an invocation. His story of the Chinese Magus settles into our psyche in the best way possible as we find ourselves challenged, concerned and involved in the quest, with a quiet voice asking ourselves: Can this, at some mystical level and in some odd way, be true?! ~ Alan Richardson, author of Du Lac and On Winsley Hill
Yeo's take on the journey of the Magi - in this case, that of a Chinese Magus - is at once a gripping and fast-paced adventure story and an inner journey of self-discovery.
At the heart of this exuberant adventure is the story of a man learning to be human as he follows the mysterious call of his destiny.
A vivid and exciting tale that takes us to the heart of the journey of the Magus. ~ Kathy Tiernan, author of Place of Repose