Ken Liu, World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Paper Menagerie, announced yesterday the sale of his first novel, The Chrysanthemum and the Dandelion, and its sequels. The Chrysanthemum and the Dandelion is the first volume of The Dandelion Dynasty. A full synopsis of the series was provided on io9:
The Dandelion Dynasty follows Kuni Garu, a charming bandit, and Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke. At first, the two seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, they quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures. The scope of the series is epic, involving gods, massive armies, diverse cultures, multiple plotlines, numerous characters, politics, war, courtly intrigue, and love.
He describes the series as “a loose retelling of the historical legends surrounding the the founding and early years of the Han Dynasty.” Liu further explains the impact that these legends have had on Chinese culture and literature, likening them to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. They’ve “been an important part of the mythic imagination of people in the Sinosphere for millennia,” he says. The Chrysanthemum and the Dandelion is Liu’s attempt at address an issue that he sees in contemporary narrative. He says:
Most of my stories are reactions against something I don’t like: a popular narrative leaves something out that I feel is crucial, a set of assumptions and myths being told and retold that I feel is damaging and limiting, or the kind of story I want to read isn’t being written. This series is no exception. I wanted to write a novel that told these stories that I loved to a readership that might be unfamiliar with them, but I didn’t want to write a straight historical novel or a “magic China” fantasy series — these approaches are fraught with the kind of appropriation issues that I find so problematic.
So I decided to do something different. I wanted to retell the stories in a new setting, with new cultures, new peoples, new technologies and magic that are not tied to their Chinese roots directly.