Penick ’67 explores the 15th-century Chinese court

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Douglas Penick ’67 (Photo: Bill Oliver)

New book: Journey of the North Star, by Douglas Penick ’67 (Publerati)

 
The author: Penick has had a wide-ranging career. He’s been a research associate at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a chef, and has taught on Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian religion, history, and culture. In addition, he’s written libretti for two operas; short fiction, essays, and poetry; and three books deriving from the epic cycle on the life of the central Asian warrior hero, King Gesar of Ling: Crossings on a Bridge of Light, Warrior Song of King Gesar, and The Brilliance of Naked Mind.
 
The book: In this historical novel set 700 years ago, the Chinese emperor’s eunuch slave, Ma Yun, records the reign of the emperor, Yong Le, who helped return China to world power after years of decay. Narrated by the slave, the novel also is the story of two men in different positions in life who come to share a single goal. (The book is available in e-book format.)
 

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Opening lines: “I have lived in the heart of the world. Amid many others of my kind, this eunuch slave has hurried silently, day and night, through the vermilion corridors of the Son of Heaven’s palaces to serve his needs as ruler of the world. Despite my utter insignificance, the Lord of Time has been so kind as to use this eunuch slave as one of his innumerable instruments in determining the way of life of unseen millions.”
 
Review: Publishers Weekly called it a “meticulously researched historical novel.” “Extraordinarily evocative details, moments of disarming poignancy, and an overall verisimilitude suggest this might really be the found work of a devoted courtier. By the time the Emperor makes his final dictation and Ma Yun fades into obscurity, the reader is completely beguiled by this glimpse of a lost world.”

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