The Library of Legends: A Novel

Written by:
Janie Chang
Narrated by:
Emily Woo Zeller

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2020
11 hours 20 minutes
“The Library of Legends is a gorgeous, poetic journey threaded with mist and magic about a group from a Chinese university who take to the road to escape the Japanese invasion of 1937 – only to discover that danger stalks them from within. Janie Chang pens pure enchantment!”  —Kate Quinn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel—the third in a loosely-connected trilogy—in which a young woman travels across China with a convoy of student refugees, fleeing the hostilities of a brutal war with Japan.

“Myths are the darkest and brightest incarnations of who we are…”

China, 1937: When Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Lian and a convoy of more than a hundred students, faculty, and staff must walk a thousand miles to the safety of China’s western provinces, a journey marred by hunger, cold, and the constant threat of aerial attack. And it is not just the student refugees who are at risk: Lian and her classmates have been entrusted with a priceless treasure, a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.

Her family’s past has made Lian wary of forming attachments, but the students’ common duty to safeguard the Library of Legends forms unexpected bonds. Lian finds friendship and a cautious romance with the handsome and wealthy Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is murdered and another arrested, Lian realizes she must escape from the convoy before a family secret puts her in danger. Accompanied by Shao and the enigmatic maidservant Sparrow, Lian makes her way to Shanghai, hoping to reunite with her mother.

On the journey, Lian learns of the connection between her two companions and a tale from the Library of Legends, The Willow Star and the Prince. Learning Shao and Sparrow’s true identities compels Lian to confront her feelings for Shao. But there are broader consequences too, for as the ancient books travel across China, they awaken immortals and guardian spirits to embark on an exodus of their own, one that changes the country’s fate forever.

Based on true events, rich in Chinese history and lore, The Library of Legends is both an illuminating exploration of China’s recent past and an evocative tale of love, sacrifice, and the extraordinary power of storytelling.
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Beautifully written story with the 1937 Japanese invasion of China as its background. There were many hard truths touched upon: Girls being abandoned so that the rest of the family can survive is one of these truths. The cruelty of the Chinese Government to its own people is another. Janie Chang mixed historical facts with great storytelling. There are characters who are odd, but endearing. I loved this, and I'm keeping the book as opposed to my usual donate. I firmly believe I will revisit this story again in my lifetime. Albeit I have never purposefully reread any book but my Bible, when I look at the beautiful cover and my donate bag, I can't let go. This is one book where knowing the ending can take the second read to a new level. I read along with the audio, and thought the narrator was good. Her main voice was beautiful and calming. I didn't care and cringed early on at some of the other impersonations. Overall, without the audio I would not have been able to enjoy (my loss) due to all the Chinese, etc., names. Oh there is always a but, I don't like the deckled edges.

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