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Qi (Richard Ireton Series, Book 1) Hardcover – October 1, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
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"I couldn't put it down and was utterly fascinated by its descriptions of Chinese culture. This book is Recommended." -- ChristianFictionReview.com
About the Author
David Aikman is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with wide knowledge and deep experience of the politics and religion of China. He served more than two decades as a foreign correspondent with TIME Magazine, reporting from five continents on many dramatic world events. Most recently, he authored Jesus in Beijing, How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the World Balance of Power and the best-seller A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush.
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I can't wait for the movie and hopefully the sequel.
suspenseful tour through the violent secret society underworld of
contemporary south China as a fictional coup is about to break in
Guangzhou out that will bring war with Taiwan. The hero fills a
rather unlikely professional role -- he's a journalist -- but as he
gets drawn inexorably into the coils of a complicated political plot,
he's every bit as interesting as your average thriller protagonist.
Of course, there IS a CIA character in the book, who's not the
derring-do type and more of a frustrated bureaucrat. There's also a
luscious Filipina girlfriend, who annoyingly for our hero Richard
Ireton, is infected with a dose of religion by a nosy African-American
missionary in Hong Kong and won't share her favors with him. That
produces some sparks, of course.
I read this book in two nights and couldn't put it down. In
addition to the fascinating story, I found author Aikman had packed in
a lot of really interesting stuff about China. On the whole, though,
the thought kept coming to me: Hollywood has gotta turn this into a
The word "qi" is actually pronounced "chee" and is used to describe the inner energy or life force that accompanies a person as well as the universe as a whole. Qigong, a derivative of qi, is an ancient Chinese spiritual and mystical practice. This is the unusual title that David Aikman chose to kick off his new fiction series based on the adventures of Richard Ireton, an American journalist whose profession reflects Aikman's real life work.
In this slow-starting but eventually fast-moving book, Richard Ireton is the bureau chief in Hong Kong for a successful news magazine known as Epoch (which rings a bit too true to Aikman's work with Time). Ireton is suddenly sent to Guangzhou, a Chinese province near Hong Kong, to look for a missing American named Chuck McHale. During his investigation, he encounters a wave of anti-Americanism and talk of a coup that traces back to the Grand Master of Qigong. Corrupt military leaders, the mafia and an underground criminal group known as the Triad are involved. But if that weren't enough, Ireton must also navigate a rather bumpy start to the relationship with his new girlfriend, Trish, as well as brief encounters with a sharp but kind Christian missionary and a few individuals involved in the underground church.
About halfway through the book, the story picks up steam as Ireton is invited to a rather posh restaurant with the leaders of the planned coup. The details of scenes, including the colorful and repugnant food and characters, as well as the pace with which Aikman writes, are exceptional. At this point, QI comes alive.
Unfortunately, the last third of the book seems rushed, with quick, pat answers offered as substitutes for a satisfactory sense of closure. A six-page epilogue is used to tightly seal up any loose ends, giving the feel that the book's climax is out of place. In the end, Ireton is heading off to accept a position as the bureau chief in Jerusalem and providing an easy transition for the next installment in the "Richard Ireton" series.
That said, there are many reasons to read this book. Some of the weaknesses of the title may actually be set-ups for future books in the series. But even if they aren't, Aikman undoubtedly will become a better fiction writer with future projects. Also, he offers rich insights into Chinese history, culture and spirituality. And the book manages to subtly touch on Christian themes without being preachy. Aikman is a gifted and talented writer, and this is a series that will keep getting better and better.