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Broken Lightning: Legend of the Qi Symbol Paperback – October 6, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Jonathan V. Cann was born in Manhattan, raised in suburban New Jersey, and educated in upstate New York. He holds a degree in Asian Studies from Bard College, and has written novels, memoirs, video games, and comics. He lives in Queens.
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I particularly like his scenes in Riktalash, the not-quite fantasy kingdom (is it a lost island in the Riyukus?) where the society stands on the knife edge between order and a complete breakdown of the natural world. As the world gets further and further out of balance, "linkers" arise who have extraordinary powers and superhuman ability. Throughout this, Jon stays true to his source material by presenting his warring characters as neither fully good nor fully evil. Like the classic symbol of yin-yang, each contains the potential to become the other.
For serious students of East Asia like myself, there are some nuggets of wisdom in Broken Lighting that are quite thought-provoking. For example, about 2/3rds of the way through the book the main character Kurt comes to a realization about the inspiration of the oracle-bone divination cracks that appear in the I Ching. Traditionally these are thought to represent cracks in turtle shells that have been heated in the fire, but Jon presents an alternative that seems to me just as plausible. To be sure, these are only asides in a story that is by and large driven by its characters (and not by lectures on Asian philosophy) but it's refreshing to see that Jon has really given the underlying premise a great deal of thought. The post script by the author regarding source material is also a welcome addition.
I'm looking forward to the sequels, and hoping that he'll return to Riktalash--the isle of the immortals--and flesh out that society even more.
The story starts as a familiar (though not overburdened by tropes) guy-gets-superpowers type story, which is deepened significantly over the course of the book by the gradual revelation of a deeper, mystical history underlying the present events. It's through these images and stories of a legendary past (the sub-titular Legend of the Qi Symbol) that the author really finds his voice; one almost wishes that the story had focused on these past events, but in the end they are made sweeter, and more convincingly mythic in tone, for their tantalizing brevity.
I canna recommend this book to anyone. Ever.