“Explosive… Poignant and shattering… While [the] climax is inevitable and the stories lead directly toward it, a reader is still shocked and horrified when it occurs.” -The Boston Globe
“Shan Sa creates a sense of foreboding that binds the parallel tales of her protagonists. Her measured prose amplifies the isolation amid turmoil that each character seems to inhabit.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Dreamy… powerful… This unlikely love story… is beautiful, shocking, and sad.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Compelling… Emotionally charged chapters evoke the stop-and-start rhythms of adolescence… Sa handles the intersection of the personal and the political quite deftly.” – The Washington Post Book World
“What makes Sa’s novel so satisfying is the deceptive simplicity of her narrative strategy.” – San Jose Mercury News
“An awesome read… Shan Sa describes the story so well that you almost forget you’ve never visited the places in her book… This book is truly for every reader.” -The Decatur Daily
“Entrancing… [With] an ending that you won’t predict.” – Austin American-Statesman
“It has the sweep of war and the intimacy of a love story… Shan Sa is a phenomenon.” – The Observer (London)
“Spellbinding… Sa’s language is graceful and trancelike: her fights are a whirling choreography of flying limbs and snow, her emotions richly yet precisely expressed.” – The Times (London)
“One is struck by the economy of the tale, its speed, and the brutality of its calculations. There is never an excess word or a superfluous phrase: each paragraph counts… Fine literary work.” – Le Figaro Magazine (France)
“An astonishing book… Ends up taking one’s breath away… Goes straight to our hearts.” – Le Point (France)
“Gripping… A wrenching love story… [The protagonists’] shared sense of immediacy and the transience of life is what in the final analysis makes this novel so strong, so intelligent, so moving… You’ll have to look far and wide to find a better new novel on an East Asian subject than this finely crafted story, satisfying as it is on so many different levels.” – The Taipei Times
In a remote Manchurian town in the 1930s, a sixteen-year-old girl is more concerned with intimations of her own womanhood than the escalating hostilities between her countrymen and their Japanese occupiers. While still a schoolgirl in braids, she takes her first lover, a dissident student. The more she understands of adult life, however, the more disdainful she is of its deceptions, and the more she loses herself in her one true passion: the ancient game of go.
Incredibly for a teenager-and a girl at that-she dominates the games in her town. No opponent interests her until she is challenged by a stranger, who reveals himself to us as a Japanese soldier in disguise. They begin a game and continue it for days, rarely speaking but deeply moved by each other's strategies. As the clash of their peoples becomes ever more desperate and inescapable, and as each one's untold life begins to veer wildly off course, the girl and the soldier are absorbed by only one thing-the progress of their game, each move of which brings them closer to their shocking fate.
In The Girl Who Played Go, Shan Sa has distilled the piercing emotions of adolescence into an engrossing, austerely beautiful story of love, cruelty and loss of innocence.
In seventh-century China, during the great Tang dynasty, a young girl from the humble Wu clan entered the imperial gynaecium, which housed ten thousand concubines. Inside the Forbidden City, she witnessed seductions, plots, murders, and brazen acts of treason. Propelled by a shrewd intelligence, an extraordinary persistence, and a friendship with the imperial heir, she rose through the ranks to become the first Empress of China.
Re-creating the lives of two of the most intriguing rulers in history, Shan Sa brings us a novel filled with the sound of hooves, the whistle of arrows, blood, passion, and betrayal. The familiar figure of Alexander the Great comes to new life in this richly imagined tale, which entwines his historical legacy with a fantastic love affair set in a wartime between Western and Eastern civilizations.
Abused by his father, King Philip, who loved and hated his beauty; shadowed by his mother, the mystical and overbearing Queen Olympias; educated by Aristotle who wanted him to be a wise philosopher of Macedonia, Alexander develops a complex character. He becomes a brutal warrior, a pitiless strategist, and a poet longing for the world's wonders. Meanwhile, in the remote steppes of Siberia, an abandoned girl grows up among the wild mares, then adopted by the queen of the Amazons – the tribe of female warriors who dominates a wild world of snow and volcano. As a future queen, the young girl is trained to hate men and to fight against all invaders.
In the course of his great conquest of Asia, Alexander first meets the stunning Alestria on the battlefield. Surprised to find that his adversary is a woman, he is instantly smitten by the fierce queen. Dazzled by his strength, she decides to kidnap him and make him her "wife." At last, this legendary king – renowned for his beauty and love of men – has found his equal. And at last, this indomitable young woman has found a reason to leave her tribe. Their love, deeply passionate and problematic, evolves against an exotic backdrop of warfare and political turmoil, sweeps from antique Greece to Egypt, across the ancient Iraq and Iran, unto the mysterious kingdoms of India.
"An epic fictional romance between Alexander the Great and an Amazon queen drives the latest from Shan Sa (Empress). As a boy, Sa's Alexander is abused by his father, King Philip of Macedonia. Alexander grows into a cruel and narcissistic youth with an unquenchable thirst for revenge. His political ambitions blossom under the tutelage of Aristotle, and after his father's assassination, Alexander sets off to conquer Greece, Persia and Egypt. When he meets Alestria, the young queen of the Amazons (a mythical tribe of nomadic, male-spurning female warriors from the eastern steppes), he has perhaps met his match in love and war. Told in the extravagant voices of Alexander and Alestria, and of Alestria's protector and confidante, Ania, there's little subtlety in this sweeping, heroic romance. But strewn amid the pageantry and clamor are fascinating details about Alexander's world and about the legendary Amazons, who, if they existed at all, might have been his contemporaries – and equals. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Romance, action, and intrigue combine to set the stage for a page-turning romp through alternate history." Booklist