Cover Image: The Library of Legends

The Library of Legends

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Member Reviews

Hu Lian and Shao, two students at Minghua University in Nanking in war torn China of 1937, escape with their professors and other students into the Western provinces, fleeing with the Library of Legends, precious books of Chinese literature. With the two students is an immortal, a Star, posing as a humble servant girl.

The magical elements of celestial beings, gods, guardian spirits, and other immortals pepper this novel, giving a fantastical flair to the novel that describes the drudgery and danger of war. Hu Lian and Shao later  leave their nomadic campus and travel to Shanghai to find their mothers, who are both in danger and ill. Their stories give a personal side to these historical events of universities moving to the Western provinces on foot, dodging the enemy planes and troops during the second Sino-Japanese War between China and the empire of Japan. 

The historical background, the mixture of the magical into the novel, the well developed characters and their stories, and the legends made this book both informative and a delight to read.
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Really slow and I was grasping a bit at what exactly the plot was supposed to be.  I loved the history, I loved the myths, but the main characters were too boring for me.  They did grow and their relationship was inspiring, but the action was slow!
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One of my favorite type of books is historical fiction that covers an event that I know nothing about. The Library of Legends fits that perfectly. In 1937, Japan and China are at war, with a Japanese invasion imminent. Hu Lian and her fellow students follow their professors on the long journey to China's interior, carrying the Library of Legends with them for safekeeping. I was swept up in this tale where professors continued lectures as they walked and the students banded together to keep each other safe. I loved the little bit of mythology thrown in and thought the story was well put together. I plan on reading Janie Chang's previous two novels- her writing is fantastic!
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Disappointed. I thought I was going to learn more about the Chinese mythology and the Library of Legends. But it was only few mentions of it which left me with so many questions. 
The war story was good, but again it wasn't written as well as it should be.
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Goodness, this is the only kind of historical fiction that I want. Set in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War in the '30s and '40s, it tells a story that is more character-driven than plot-driven with a touch of the mythological. It's somewhat of a slow burn ... I love a good slow burn, so this was right up my alley. There are so many lovely characters here to welcome into my heart. The characters and this story will stay with me. 

Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a copy of this ARC.
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The Library of Legends is a historical fiction fantasy retelling about students in China during the Sino-Japanese War, as they traverse the countryside protecting a series of books called The Library of Legends. These books tell China's history through stories of the gods, one being the Willow Star, now on earth as Sparrow, a servant trying to regain the love of a prince, sworn to forget her through generations.

I loved this book for the time period, as it really informed me about a time that I didn't know much about, if at all. As a scholar myself, it was so interesting to follow people who just loved studying and learning, I felt that deeply.  I also loved Sparrow and found her and the mythology aspect of this story to be the most interesting portion of the story.

However, other than Sparrow, I felt that most of the characters in this book were very one-dimensional and I just wanted more from them. Because of this, I really didn't enjoy the ending of this book or the way that the romance worked out. There's a lot of this story which is just traveling here to there and it gets to be quite tedious and boring.  I listened to this book on audio, which definitely helped, but if I hadn't, I don't think I would have gotten through it (or probably given this book 2 stars). 

That being said, there's still things to recommend this book. If you like historical fiction that's set in a different time that typical (World War 2, you know...) or are interested in the mythology plot line, than I recommend this book to you!
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When Japan starts to bomb the city of Nanking, the students of Minghua University find themselves fleeing for their lives. The University has been entrusted with the invaluable collection of the Library of Legends. It is up to the students and teachers to safely transport this sacred treasure as well as save their own lives. Hu Lain finds herself on the long road fearful of her truth coming out and falling for the wealthy Shao. This story had everything I could ask for in a book. It had adventure, romance, family ties, and a bit of magical realism. I would have loved to get more insight into the magical realm, but it did not make the book any less enjoyable. Thank you, NetGalley for the eARC. 4 solid stars for this one.
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A beautifully written story that bookworms are sure to devour! This story weaves together themes like friendship, culture, war, love, and history like magic!
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While I enjoyed the historic aspect of the story, overall it felt shallow to me. Maybe it was the mixture of genres. I never fully connected with any of the characters making it kind of a beating to finish reading. 

Thank you to the publisher through Netgalley for this copy.
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I love reading historical fiction.  This book was so good. Such a beautifully written book. I will define recommending this book to all my friends.
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⭐️The Library of Legends ⭐️
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💫 Janie Chang💫
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📚Book 191 of 2020📚
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First of all this cover is stunning, just like this story. In 1937 a group of Chinese students from university must evacuate when Japanese bombs start falling. They must walk over a thousand miles with danger lurking everywhere. They must also protect a priceless collection that is a 500 year old collection known as the Library of Legends. 
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This book is utter magic full of folklore and myth. It is like nothing I have ever read before and is written so beautifully. When you are done also do yourself a favor and read the authors note.
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Thank you so much to #netgalley and #williammorrow for an arc in exchange of a honest review.

#quarantine#foffimreading#bookclub#bookblog#bookreviewblog#bookaddict#bookcommunity#goodreads#bookishbounds#dec2020#bookishladiesclub#bookwineandmetime#netgalley#williammmorrow#thelibraryoflegends
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Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, I was not able to review it earlier, having received the ARC last minute and not being able to fit it into my schedule at the time. I subsequently purchased the book, and this review is based on the final copy.

I had never read Janie Chang before, however, I was intrigued by The Library of Legends and how it depicted the Second Sino-Japanese War and how that brought China into World War II. I also more recently read The Poppy War series, which was inspired by this time period, so I was excited to read a book set during that period more directly, although once again containing  an intersection of historical and magical (but in a different way).

Chang conveys the political situation with such realness, with university students throughout the country coming together to flee Japanese invasion in a beautiful and inspiring display of unity. And this is displayed beautifully through cautious Lian, who struggles with trusting people due to her family’s past, but finds herself depending on others as they face many trials on their journey and share the common goal of protecting the Library of Legends.

And the romance, while not the main plot, is quite beautiful, and one of the bright spots in the turmoil that Lian and her comrades are going through. 

And the Library itself? It conveys such beautiful stories, and promotes the importance of preserving one’s folklore and heritage. 

This is a poetic, genre-bending story, and one that both educated and entertained me. If you love historical fiction and are looking for a World War II book set in China, or love a story that combines history with light magical elements, I think you’ll enjoy this one.
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I went into this book not knowing too much of what to expect. I had skimmed the synopsis after being immediately drawn to the cover. What I thought was going to be solidly historical fiction also had a flavor of folklore and magical realism, and I was there for it.

In The Library of Legends, we follow Lian and her classmates as they travel across the country to safety once the Japanese start bombing. Shao and Sparrow are the other two main characters, and between these three perspectives, the story is told.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written and the characters had a lot of depth. I alternately read and listened to the audiobook for this book; the audiobook is narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, who also helped bring the characters to life (she is a great narrator). I am excited to read what the author writes next, and I have already added her previous works to my TBR list...
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Actual rating: 3.75

I really enjoyed this story. I am always looking for stories about World War 2 that take place in Asian countries. I've read a few things about the Rape of Nanking, so I was really excited to dig into this story.

What I liked: 

The writing was beautiful. I felt that the time period was well researched and very fleshed out. I felt like I was there with them. This novel is following the stories of a few students marching with their college across the interior of China to get to safety and protect a collection of legends - the Library of Legends. 

I really liked the themes of friendship, love, and devotion, both romantic and familial. 

What didn't quite work for me:

The fantasy element kind of fell flat for me. There were moments where it worked, but overall, I felt like it needed to be more fleshed out. 

Overall though, I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone interested in reading more about this time period in history.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. It was interesting to learn about Chinese university students during World War II, but I feel like this book focused less on that and more on supernatural elements, which I didn't love. I had a hard time being interested in it at times, and I never got invested in the characters. The Library of Legends concept was interesting, though, and I was sad to discover it wasn't real.
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I wasn't sure I was going to like this book but I ended up enjoying it! This book followed students in China in WWII trying to save themselves and their library. If you enjoy WWII stories and atories about books, pick this one right up! 4 stars
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This was my first novel by the author and I enjoyed it! It was set in WW2 and follows along as a group of students fleeing the bombing of their city as they cross to safety in China. I loved how the author intertwined the stories the students carried with their lives. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book!
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The synopsis for The Library of Legends sounded wonderful. This story takes place in China in 1937, when the city of Nanking falls to the Japanese. The narrative follows Lian, a scholarship student who is fleeing with her university to save not only themselves but the Library of Legends, an original collection of China’s fables and folklore that is integral to their national identity. Lian does her part to protect the Library, and I very much enjoyed this aspect of the story. As the journey progresses, we start to see these legends come to life on the periphery of the story, as the legends themselves begin to evacuate the mortal world. 

There were so many excellent building blocks to this story. An interesting and well-developed setting, a dramatic and compelling plot, a respect for stories, a star-crossed romance, and even an element of mysticism were all present. But there was something about both the characters and the writing itself that just fell a bit flat for me. None of the characters ever felt tangible to me, which made them less than believable. I think this disconnect is directly linked to Chang’s writing style and choices in prose. Something about it just didn’t resonate with me as a reader.

Though I had my issues with The Library of Legends, I loved getting to learn more about a time and place with which I was fairly unfamiliar. I can see this novel appealing to a lot of readers, especially those who gravitate towards non-literary historical fiction.
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What a journey! The writing, the storytelling, everything about this book blew me away. I was so hesitant going into this book, mostly regarding the fantasy element, but it was such a subtle part of the storyline (and so well done) that even for those like myself who like their historical fiction completely realistic, this book is sure to please. Nothing about the story, from the actual journey of the university student refugees to the fantastical element of these immortals and guardian spirits being awakened from the pages of Library of Legends, felt far fetched and I so appreciated that. 

The absolute highlight of this book for me was learning of a circumstance and place I had not previously known about, 1937 China during their war against the Japanese and the transportation of the Library of Legends. Nothing about the history that was included in the story was familiar to me and added to how absorbed I was in these pages. The settings were atmospheric and I couldn’t help but feel as if I was right amongst these characters through it all. Which, speaking of characters, of whom I truly enjoyed each and every one, I just couldn’t get enough of the bravery and strength of the main character Lian. Her character inspired me so much and I simply love coming alongside memorable female characters like her in the HF I read.

I was completely new to Janie Chang’s books when I picked this one up, and I can confidently say that I enjoyed her beautiful writing so much that I’m eager to go back and pick up her backlist now. If you’re looking for the perfect historical fiction read to get lost in this fall on a cozy weekend, let me recommend you pick up The Library of Legends. A gorgeous yet heartbreaking story of war and survival, Chinese cultural stories and history, friendship, community, and family, I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I did!

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for the gifted copy.
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Nice blend of history, romance, and magical realism. I didn't think the characters were well fleshed out and some of the pacing was slow but I still enjoyed the story itself. Thanks very much for the copy of this book!
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