Ever since I read A Journey to a New World (part of the Dear America series) when I was eight years old, I have loved historical fiction with a passion. And, for the last year or so, I've had a fascination with ancient China and its history and culture. So when Lady of Ch'iao Kuo fell across my path, I was ecstatic at finding a book that combined the two interests.
The book was an excellent read, telling an exciting story of a time of war and cultural tension as the Chinese moved southward, settling the forest regions of southern China. Lady Redbird, the main character of the story, belongs to the Hsien people, who are native to the forest region and are struggling to accept the Chinese and adapt to the changes the settlers are bringing with them.
The historical information for the book was researched from authentic ancient Chinese history texts, so the insight into the culture, technology, and events of ancient China were rich, realistic, and enlightening.
There were a few instances throughout the book where I thought the author's choice of words was rather odd. The use of phrases like 'they hit it off' and 'a child acting up' particularly caught my attention as feeling rather inauthentic. I can see why the author may have chosen those phrases deliberately to create a connection between the readers and the people of the past, but I still found it somewhat jolting.
And of course, the book is supposed to be a teenage girl's diary, but it was written by a man. So inevitably many of the thought processes and feelings recorded (or not recorded) can seem a little out of place or inaccurate. But then, only someone who was a teenage girl at one point would notice that.
On the whole, I really enjoyed reading this book. It would be great material with which to supplement a study of Chinese history, or just as a fun read on its own. This one will definitely be staying in my library.