Cover Image: Vagabonds

Vagabonds

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Welcome to the dream world that is Vagabonds!

The translation creates a prose poem that lasts through hundreds of pages. In the beginning, the Earth colonized Mars. Next, came the civil wars breaking the two worlds into separate societies. Finally, came peace activities including delegations from each world visiting the other.

This is the story of the return of the fifty-member Mars delegation to its home planet five years after leaving it. In particular, the story of one girl, Luoying, who has trouble readjusting to Mars political climate after experiencing the radically different politics of Earth. It is also the story of Eko Lu, a documentarian with the fifty-member delegation from Earth to Mars. He decides to document Luoying, who is the only granddaughter of the Mars’ dictator.

It is obvious from the beginning that Mars is China and Earth is the West. Mars is a communist dictatorship with strict rules for blending in. Earth is capitalist and full of sometimes conflicting nation-states. Both have their pros and cons. But the cons can only be seen from faraway. So only once Luoying and Eko left their own worlds could they see the full truth.

While there is definitely some world-building here, the main focus is philosophical. What’s amazing is this book was written by a Chinese woman who works for the Chinese government. It does not present the Chinese-like Mars community as always right and the Western-like Earth as always wrong. It is much more nuanced that a pure white hat-black hat viewpoint.

If you want to read a more languid and philosophical type of science fiction, please read Vagabonds. You won’t be disappointed. 4 stars!

Thanks to Saga Press, Gallery Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) is a recommended science fiction novel set on Mars which explores contrasting societal values between Earth and Mars.

A century after the Martian War of Independence, a group of teenagers who were born and raised on Mars are sent to Earth as delegates. Called the Mercury Group, when they return home with a delegation of Terran representatives, the group begins to feel separate from the rest of Martian society and caught between the societal differences of the two worlds. After spending five of their formative teenage years on earth, members of the Mercury Group now have a fractured sense of identity and question how they fit into their community and their roles.

It is clear that there are still tensions between the two different systems of Earth and Mars. The novel closely follows Luoying, one of the returning students who is a dancer. She explored many aspects of Earth's society when she visited and now struggles to rectify the rigidity of Martian society with the materialistic, individualistic society of Western civilization. Luoying is the granddaughter of Hans Sloan, the consul of Mars. After her return from Earth, she is questioning her grandfather's role in being chosen as one of the teens to visit, as well as his role in the death of her parents.

Vagabonds is beautifully written, poetic, thoughtful and contemplative. Certainly it is clear why Hao Jingfang is a Hugo Award–winning author. In many ways it could have been set on future Earth, comparing and contrasting two different societies, and is more of a veiled comparison of an evolved socialism versus Western capitalism. While it explores the difference, it doesn't openly berate one over the other. It is also coming-of-age novel. The most notable fact is, however, very slow-paced novel and how you have to make a monumental choice to keep reading. This would be highly recommended, but it moves way-too-slowly.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
The review will be posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Was this review helpful?
Three groups of travelers are bound for an independent Mars on the only ship allowed to make the journey between the estranged planets. The returning delegates of Mars are excited to get home, the Terran delegates are anxious about the forthcoming negotiations, and the returning children of Mars, sent to study on Earth 5 years previously, are ready to get back home but uncertain of their place there.

It's 30 years after the war for Martian independence ended, but relations between the planets are still delicate. Earth views Mars as an authoritarian society without freedom and Mars views Earth as devoid of morality and ideals. Stuck between the vastly different lifestyles and societies of the two are the group of students sent to learn about life on Earth but expected to conform back into the vastly different Martian society on their return.

Hao Jingfang's Vagabonds is a meditation on humanity and the meaning of freedom. Mars represents the collective ideals of societies, placing familial bonds and the betterment of the whole over individual freedom. Earth represents the individual, the pursuit of freedom and profit over the collective good. The students shuttled between these two worlds are thrown into internal conflict. Seeing the flaws of both societies, but unable to live in either, they must decide if struggling to fix the problems they have found is a worthwhile or achievable goal. Are revolutions ever truly successful, is it possible to build something without flaw?

This contemplation of societies is understandable and raises good questions, but Vagabonds struggles with finding direction through it. Reading more like a selection from de Montaigne's Essais than a novel, the book features circular arguments, abrupt jumps in time, constantly adds new point of view characters and completely drops others. Structurally, it's a bit of a mess. While Hao Jinfang's lyrical writing often makes individual sections of this book unforgettable, the overall effect is a lengthy, overly descriptive slog. Entire pages are spent, paragraph after paragraph, on describing the same thing using slightly different words for sentence after sentence. Sometimes this is done to good effect, often when a character is using their surrounding to parse their conflicts. However, when combined with the time jumps and point of view changes, it leads to an overall muddle reading experience.

Hao Jingfang is clearly a talented writer. Vagabonds will appeal to people who would rather ponder than go on a journey. There are some truly wonderfully written sections of this book and I do look forward to reading future works from this author. Having said that, I will not be picking this one back up for a revisit.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a book about humanity. It tells the story of how people and the world around us shape us, sometimes gradually and sometimes in a blink of an eye. I found it to be a wonderfully done exploration of culture and our sense of belonging. The writing was detailed, it was an exquisite read that deserves to be contemplated and given time to breath. This is not an inhale in one sitting type of book. It reminded me of that feeling you get when you return home from studying abroad, things are familiar and yet you see things differently. The two main characters give the reader the ability to see Mars as a both a first time viewer and as someone returning home, which creates a beautiful dimension for the audience.
Was this review helpful?
It’s obvious that the writer is talented and has the ability to conjure images and some decent character development. However I was really bored with this story. The pacing was really off and there was a lack of anything that really pulled me in as a reader.
Was this review helpful?
I haven't read much newer sci-fi in a while. I enjoyed this book and would read more by this author. A bit long for my preferences but that's more a criticism of me and my attention span than the book or the author. 

I wanted to get a few thoughts down before the book is released. Will post a more complete review once I've had some more time to process.
Was this review helpful?
I read about 20% of this and what I read, I loved.  I just know that because of the world events, I am having trouble concentrating on this.  It deserves complete attention and I know I will not finish it before release day.  I plan on coming back to this one at some point later in the year.  When I do, I will update my rating and review.
Was this review helpful?
Hugo winner Hao Jinfang's Vagabonds details life a century after the Martian war for independence. A delegation of students from Mars is sent to earth to help ease tensions between the two societies. But the group finds it difficult to build a life there and even more difficult to re-acclimate to life on Mars when they return. For eighteen-year-old Luoying, a dance student and granddaughter of the Martian governor, her return raises more questions than it answers. She wants to know how her parents died and what the true purpose for sending her to earth really was. And what the future on Mars really holds--maybe man isn't meant to be there at all.

I can't imagine how lovely this novel is in Jinfang's native Chinese, because the writing through translator Ken Liu is beautiful. It's the writing alone that made me want to keep turning the pages.

Unfortunately, a couple things detracted from the overall experience for me. The length of the novel was a struggle. Not necessarily the length itself, because I can read long books, but I prefer them to be tightly paced. In Vagabonds, though it was technically gorgeous, and I was excited by the premise, I never really connected to any of the characters in any meaningful emotional way. I ended up reading through and not really remembering much of what I read and not being that upset about it.

That being said, I would definitely seek out more of Hao Jingfang's works. She clearly is a talented writer.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing this copy to review.
Was this review helpful?
I REALLY wanted to love it, I really did. I really liked the premise as it seemed unique and quite intriguing. However, I found it too hard to following and not enticing enough. Because I had an ARC, I felt quite distracted by typos and grammar errors. I only made it about a third of the way through the book so take this review with a grain of salt. There is a chance it gets better. It just wasn't for me. I hope to return to it at a later date in the chance I have just been in a reading slump. Will definitely keep my eye out for future reviews to help me reflect and potentially reevaluate. I think this book gives an interesting perspective on how our society is built and the values that we place and that alone was enough to give this 3 stars.
Was this review helpful?
A bit tedious at times, mainly for the political rhetoric, but the fault was too much repetition rather than propagandizing. I ends much stronger than it began, and I can give it a recommendation.
Was this review helpful?
Vagabonds is one of those books I've been excited for since I first heard about it. Translated fiction is something I so rarely read and translated science fiction? I've been following the translated works of Ken Liu for a while now and when I saw Vagabonds I knew I had to check it out! Vagabonds is written by the first ever Chinese woman to win a Hugo Award! As a Chinese American, I was thrilled to see Jingfang's win and knew I wanted to support this book with my whole heart. I am so happy to see the diversity within the SF field gaining more and more attention. 

Vagabonds is an epic book both in scale and writing. I immediately fell in love with the way it's written from the beginning. With translated work, there's a balance between the writing and the translation and Liu and Jingfang nail it! There's fantastic writing from the prologue and as soon as you keep reading, a fabulously detailed SF world emerges. You might think that Vagabonds is going to be all SF space action from the beginning. Instead Vagabonds is a thoughtful and complex character driven story about home. As we begin leaving home, growing up in other countries, and return home, how do we think about home? What does home come to mean for us? The world building in Vagabonds is incredibly detailed whether it be the planet or the spaceships. For those who appreciate a good detailed world, they should definitely pick up Vagabonds! 

I have so much respect for this book and the translation. It's definitely a slower paced read, and I wouldn't take this to the beach (if you could even fit it in your bag), but it's a book you want to savor and sink into. There's political tension and a quest for independence and order amongst the stars.
Was this review helpful?
I really tried to give Hao Jingfang’s Vagabonds (translated by Ken Liu) a fair shake, pressing on even though I’d had problems with the book relatively early. And I think, given that I just about reached the halfway point (48% according to by Kindle), I did give the book a decent enough chance to win me over. But I just couldn’t push myself past that 50%, despite some intriguing ideas.

In the world of the novel, Mars and Earth are in that awkward quasi-peace period after Mars decided they wanted to be independent some time back, sparking a destructive war whose repercussions are still being felt. The novel stars with the return of some young Martians who had been sent as a delegation to Earth a few years earlier as part of the reconciliation process. The main focus is on Luoying, a young dancer whose grandfather is the Consul of Mars (or, as Earth likes to style him, the dictator of Mars) and whose return to Mars is awkward for a host of reason. A partial list includes: the huge difference between the consumer-capitalist culture of Earth and the more spartan-communal culture of Mars, re-adapting to the different physical environment (lighter gravity, always indoors), and her beginning to sense that there was more to her parents’ death some years back than she’d known. 

Sharing the focus with Luoying is the Earthling documentary-maker Eko, who has come to Mars with Earth’s delegation, but who has his own reasons as well, including finding out why his teacher/mentor spent so many years on Mars. Eko also finds Mars’ attitude toward the arts, a decidedly non-market-driven attitude, to be far more enlightened and inspiring than Earth’s focus on popularity and profit. 

I noted up above that there are  many intriguing ideas in the novel, and Jingfang’s exploration of the conflict between the two cultures is the source for all those ideas, many of which are thoughtfully presented in a welcome degree of complexity. My problem with the book, and what caused me to eventually give it up, is that I felt the ideas were prioritized over other elements that I need not necessarily to dominate a story — I thoroughly enjoy a good novel of ideas or a quiet character study — but to at least be present in somewhat adequate form:  character, emotionality, style.  

Now, Vagabonds is a novel in translation, so I can’t say what part of my issues stem from the original story or the translation (it always seems unfair to criticize a translated work for voice for instance) or just my lack of familiarity/comfort with the author’s culture. But generally, it felt like there was a lot of speechifying in the novel, a lot of clumsy exposition, characters who didn’t speak like people or didn’t speak naturally but instead were vehicles for themes, etc. The young characters in particular didn’t sound like young people. Some events that felt like they were supposed to have emotional impact did not. And while the writing has some lovely moments, there were also numerous times where I thought the metaphors/similes didn’t work to enhance or clarify; at least, it happened often enough I made a margin note after multiple times I’d thought so and then again when it happened several times more. 

If I’d had something else to lean on — compelling characters or style or something — I would have kept going because I did find the exploration of the two cultures, especially from the point of view of insiders turned outsiders to their own culture, intellectually stimulating. But the ideas themselves weren’t enough for me.
Was this review helpful?
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu.
Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley for providing a free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Vagabonds is a sci-fi novel about a future settlement on Mars, their history with Earth, and the settlement's struggle with political and societal change. The book is also about a group of teenagers who were sent from Mars to Earth to renew the two planets' relationship after a decades long separation that followed a painful war. 
The main character Luoying is 18 and just returned to Mars from her five year stay on Earth. She is struggling with her personal philosophy of life in the context of the extremely different societies she has now experienced. She is also discovering information about her family's past that she never knew - why her parents died and that her grandfather and older brother may know more about it than they were letting on. 

This book is hard to describe and review. It is very long and the story is slow moving. There are very long passages about philosophy and the differences between Mars and Earth; mainly that Earth is overly capitalistic to the detriment of creativity and art, and that Mars is overly socialist, to the detriment of personal freedom. 

At the start of the book there are very descriptive passages that made me wish the story would get moving. The book is written in third person so I felt quite removed from the characters and the action when it did happen. 

I ended up liking Luoying and many of the other characters, and my favorite parts were when the group of teens would spend time together. They had a strong connection because their experience of living on both planets was unique only to them. 

The sci-fi concepts are beautifully written - Mars City is built all from glass since sand was the main resource the Martians had to work from. The Martians are dedicated to innovation and creativity, and there is a beautiful passage where the teens invent personal aircraft they control with their bodies, and they fly and dive through giant canyons. 

I gave this book 2.5 stars because it was hard to get into and it was really long with a lot of tangential parts that sidelined the story. I was impressed with all of the philosophy and how the author portrayed it through the characters. It felt more like a philosophy text almost than a story.
Was this review helpful?
I was really surprised by how much I ended up liking this story. Typically, stories that deal with futuristic Earth don't really grab my attention but I became captivated by the writing style and the characters. There's a lot of conversation between the two sides of the "civil war" and I really liked how the author handled the topics of allegiance and how that defines an individual.
Was this review helpful?
Mars and Earth have reached an uneasy peace since the conclusion of the Martian War for Independence. Over the decades, the differences in philosophy, governance, ideology, and lifestyle have only increased. A group of young Martians was sent to live on Earth for five years, and has just returned home. Now that they are back, they are forced to contemplate what it really means to be free, and what is the price of ideological purity. Luoying, the granddaughter of the Martian Consul, was part of that group and now feels adrift in her home world. She sets out to learn the real history of her planet and her family, and the answers may only lead to more questions. 

Vagabonds is decidedly science fiction, but has cross-genre appeal. Hao Jingfang is a master storyteller, and Ken Liu has translated the story in elegant English prose. The questions posed by Luoying and the other characters get at the heart of what it is to be human and how we define progress without straying from the narrative or getting too bogged down. This isn’t a particularly light read, but it is certainly worth the time and effort. Highly recommended to anyone who is willing to invest in a book and see it through. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Initially when I sat down to write this review, I thought the main conflict in this story was between capitalism and socialism. However, upon further reflection, I think that it’s more about asserting individualism within a controlled environment. We very much do start off with the framework of capitalism vs. socialism, but the majority of that conflict (systemically, at least) is discussed and dealt with in Part One. Parts Two and Three were much more focused on Luo Ying’s search for her place in the world and discovering her past.

I think Part One really sets this novel up to be about a conflict between Earth and Mars, and that’s just not what the rest of the novel discusses. Instead, it focuses on the students that have returned to Mars, their altered views on their own society, and the actions they take in response to those alter views. Both stories are something I would have enjoyed reading, but because they’re pieced together the way they are, they both have lost a little impact. The plot ended up being more introspective than I expected, but I still enjoyed reading it, overall. 3/5 Stars.
Was this review helpful?
I was excited to check out this international adult Science Fiction novel and was happy to win the raffle for the ARC. I found the plot, the war between Mars and Earth and how it resembled the Cold War to be interesting.

I was completely hooked for the first two hundred pages of this dense Science Fiction. I liked the writing style and translation. However, it was once I hit the middle of this 600-page novel that I struggled to keep picking it back up.

It was not a bad novel at all. It was just too slow-paced for me and lacked intense scenes to keep me hooked.

I do recommend reading this one if you enjoy slow-burn science fiction with a focus on characters. It sadly was not for me.

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5 Stars.
Was this review helpful?
The gist: Jingfang’s Vagabonds is a thoughtful, reflective science fiction novel exploring politics and society across time and space. It's not fast paced, but rather takes its time delving into the different characters, getting to know the worlds they live in and the windows through which they view their lives, their opportunities and communities. Multiple viewpoints from different perspectives highlight the greys in our society, the ways in which nothing is ever so simple as right or wrong, and the ways in which sometimes things are not so different as they might at first appear. The cycle of history has a tendency to repeat itself, the question is how much is learnt. 

By using multiple perspectives, from characters of different worlds, cultures, ages and social standing, Jingfang carefully constructs a story where nothing is presented as the truth, nothing is presented as being better than something else. Instead, the characters are allowed to explore the nuances themselves, and the reader left to draw their own conclusions. 

Vagabonds takes us on a journey into identity and politics, and what it is to be an individual within society. It doesn’t necessarily have the answers, but the questions are important ones, relevant as much to this world as the one that Jingfang creates. Political insights are gained through the stories of high-level politicians, artists explore their own freedoms to create within the constraints of their respective societies, and children grow up in opposing communities and learn to deal with the internal conflicts raised by their experiences.  

This book is not an adventure, but rather an exploration – of what home is, of who we are and who we can be in a society. It’s a journey into what it is to experience freedom, and where the boundaries lie. It’s a trip to understand what it means when your home is not what you thought it was, and as a reader you become as much a vagabond as the characters within it. And by stepping outside of the boundaries, Jingfang’s Vagabonds encourages you to inhabit the areas between the extremes. 

Favourite line: “All the sharp claws of his disposition had been retracted, all his yesterdays put away.” 

Read if: You want a thoughtful, reflective science fiction tale, a tale about the past, present and future seen from the eyes of the young and the old. 

Read with: Time to reflect, and a critical mind, open to ideas and possibilities and prepared to explore the areas between the extremes. 

This review will appear at www.thedustlounge.com closer to release date
Was this review helpful?
This book is a kind of philosophical meditation wrapped in a Mars colony story.

There is a fairly large cast, and at first it felt like a slog to get through. Once I understood the central situation and problem, though, I wanted to keep reading. I love it when one of the plot's mysteries is history itself. It starts with a group of teenagers sent from the Mars colony to Earth as ambassadors finally returning home after many years. But that's only where it starts.

The writing is lyrical, and the issues range from debate over the Earth economic system vs the Mars system, to the fate of the Mars colony, to each individual character's Holden Caulfield journey through the agony of existence. It was a lot, and sometimes seemed to be overshooting its scope, but overall Vagabonds was a worthwhile read.
Was this review helpful?
Reading Science Fiction or Fantasy originating in other countries is something I highly recommend, as it shows you fiction of ideas from people whose backgrounds and worldviews are very different from one's own (the same of course is true for domestic authors from different backgrounds as well).  Given that most of the genre is based on the use of future and different worlds to discuss and explore ideas reflecting our own world, the fact that these different backgrounds result in different ways of exploring ideas makes them especially interesting.  This is almost more true of translated SF/F, if only because only the most interesting and promising such works tend to get translated and published over here, for obvious reasons.

All of which is to say Vagabonds, written by Chinese Author Hao Jingfang and translated by Ken Liu, is an incredibly fascinating piece of work and like few other works I've read.  It's a book set in a future in which Mars has been colonized, revolted against the Earth in a harsh long war, and now the two planets live in an uneasy peace with very different political systems - an ultra-capitalist but disorganized Earth and a fully socialist oligarch ruled Mars.  The results is a piece of SciFi with heavy thoughts and questions about the meaning of freedom, the meaning of home, and the worth of revolution, and very few clear answers.
------------------------------------------------Plot Summary----------------------------------------------------

40 Years ago, the Martian War for Independence ended with an uneasy cease fire.  Trade between the two worlds has uneasily resumed, with a new round of negotiations about to take place between representatives from Earth, traveling on the ship Maearth to Mars, and Martian representatives on the red planet.  But also on board the Maearth is another group - 20 students, now aged 18, who were born on Mars but spent their last 5 years obtaining their education on Earth, and are only now returning to their birthplace.  Known as the Mercury Group, everyone on Mars, expects the students to reintegrate themselves into Mars culture naturally and easily, with the group being the right age to pick their ateliers - the field/workplace they are likely to work for the rest of their lives.

But after 5 years of the capitalist freedom of Earth, the Mercury Group finds themselves uneasy with what they find on Mars and unable to fit in to the controlled environment there.  One such adrift teen is the dancer Luoying, a girl who is the granddaughter of Mars' most powerful politician.  Luoying has spent the last 5 years traveling the Earth, sometimes with a dancing troupe, other times with others with more radical goals of revolution.  Now back on Mars, Luoying and the Mercury Group find themselves unsure of what their place in Mars and whether they can fit in, and whether they should try to take drastic measures to change things based upon their experiences on Earth.

To determine what she should do, Luoying decides to try and research her the past of both Mars and her family - her powerful grandfather and her dead exiled parents.  But what she finds is that the past may in fact be repeating, and that their actions seeking a place they can comfortably call home may be all that's needed to restart conflicts once bloodily settled.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Vagabonds is a really difficult book to describe, as the book shifts directions quite a bit, and not every plot conflict really matters how you think it would.  For example the first third of the book essentially splits the story between Luoying and an Earthborn filmmaker named Eko, who comes to Mars to figure out why his mentor once stayed on the planet, and finds in the central repository of art/IP a system for promoting and showing creativity that he could only dream of in the profit obsessed system of Earth.  Eko disappears* after the first act of this book, having left Mars, and has no further impact on the plot other than a few communications he sends to Luoying which contribute to her sense of disorientation - so I didn't mention him in the above plot summary....and yet he's basically a main character for a good third of the book!

 *A cynical side of me wonders how much Eko exists in the plot to show the flaws in a Western style capitalist world to show Chinese readers that the book isn't going too hard against an idealized Chinese version of utopia, but upon reflection I don't think that's quite what's going on here. 

This is because Vagabonds is dealing with a lot of ideas - about living, about love, about plans for the future, about revolutions, about what it means to be home, about what it means to be free, etc.  It's not a particularly focused book on these ideas, but the questions it asks about each of them tends to be fascinating and thought provoking, in ways I didn't quite expect.  The basis for this exploration is its two different worlds, which each carry elements you can see in today's governments.  The Earth in this book is ultra-capitalist, with everything being done for the sake of profit and nothing else, and where squabbling governments may still exist but are secondary in importance to the billionaires and corporations who have real power.  Still, it's a world where everyone is certainly free to choose whatever life they wish to lead, to the extent they can stay out of poverty, and partying, rebelling, or altering the way one expresses themselves are an expected and ordinary part of life.

Mars on contrast is far more centralized and socialist, to the point of utopia.  Ruled by an oligarchy of politicians (although individuals can somewhat move into the governing counsel from outside), everyone has all their needs provided for on the planet, with creativity and innovation promoted for its own sake from a young age - and where everyone's creativity is available for anyone to purview in a central archive.  Still, it's a world where individuals are expected to choose their vocation from a young age, and are expected to stick to that vocation - their atelier - for the rest of their life, with freedom to move about and drift between career paths highly discouraged.  And the world is starved for resources, leading to a potential major shift away from the physical structure of the settlement being discussed by the people, and to potential firebrands supporting a potential new war with Earth to pave the way for such a transition.

It's in this contrast of worlds that Luoying and the Mercury Group find themselves dropped.  Being basically the only ones to have seen both systems, they find themselves uncomfortable with either - how can they constrain themselves to one path after five years of being free to wander?  How can they enjoy the freedom of Earth if nothing they do can be worth it unless it leads to profit?  And they find themselves desperate to both change things and try and ensure that no new conflict can occur to destroy either world.  But the only people who can understand this are the members of the Mercury Group themselves, leading to further estrangement as they discover more truths about themselves and their pasts....and the group itself is hardly monolithic, with different ideals about revolution, about ways forward, and about love among each other.

The resulting plot is fascinating to read, although rather depressing in resolution.  Vagabonds has very dim views about the prospects of revolution doing anything other than causing a short term change in the status quo until another revolution arises in the old one's place, with revolutions frequently being hijacked by outsiders for their own goals.  It suggests that the past tends to repeat itself as a result, with people forgetting the mistakes and wishes from the past to the point where one time's desires are another time's horror.  And it's a book that suggests that finding a home for oneself can in fact be impossible at times, especially for those who have had the fortune or misfortune to have spent significant time away from the place they were born and have a contrasting sense of ideas that no longer fits in any particular place.  And as these ideas are all explored, characters encounter substantial moments of heartbreak as their individual ideals clash with realities of the past and present.

"Sometimes the fight over the treasure is more important than the treasure itself" is a quote from a character in the book's first few pages, and that appears to be Jingfang's major theme here: that for an individual it is the fight that matters, not the cause, as causes themselves lead to nowhere.  It's a depressing theme, and one in which its not clear Jingfang herself even buys into, but its all that's left after the end.  Do I agree with that idea?  I don't, no, but Vagabonds makes a case from a worldview I don't have, and is worth your time to read.
Was this review helpful?