About This Book
In ancient China, a man is sent on a quest that makes him into a legend.
His task is so great, it has never been done before. He must find a way to capture words. Forever.
Follow our hero Cangjie on this mythic adventure into the history of writing.
About the book:
Across generations of ancient China’s history, tribes of nomads have been at war. But no longer.
The Yellow Emperor and his powerful army have won decisive victories and united the tribes. For the first time in anyone’s memory, the land is at peace. It is the beginning of the great Chinese culture.
Cangjie, the Master of Communications for the Yellow Emperor, has returned to his village as a war hero, to lead a quiet and still life with his wife and son. Cangjie is happier than he has ever been.
Yet the Yellow Emperor believes that a time of peace is not a time for standing still. It is a time for invention and innovation, a time to bring greatness to this war-torn land.
It is time to find a way to capture the greatness in more than pictures or the memories of storytellers.
One morning, as the light breaks the horizon and the messenger’s most dangerous time arrives, Cangjie sees movement on the edge of the forest. It is a messenger sent from the Yellow Emperor.
As Shen the messenger tells him, “The Emperor summons you to…to… Oh, Master Cangjie, the Emperor desires for you to take these words that we speak and, I do not understand, but…capture them.”
So begins the quest of Cangjie, the man who invented writing.
So begins the hero’s voyage across a vast and changing land, and the adventure behind the history of writing.
As Cangjie seeks a way to do something that has never been done before, he travels the land and witnesses a world growing so fast that his task feels more and more impossible, and the quiet life with his family feels lost forever.
In this retelling of a legend from a time before writing, in the renaissance that gave rise to modern Chinese culture, award-winning author Baker Lawley spins a tale about the origin of the written word, and the burden and magic and miracle of the act of writing.
A Note from the Author:
As a writer and a professor of creative writing, I’ve always been fascinated by the magic of the written word and the origins behind it.
Years ago, I heard an ancient tale about a man in China who saw bird footprints in mud, and got the idea for written characters from the impressions they made. I loved this anecdote. But when I began researching it for this book, I discovered there was much more to the story.
The history of writing is full of adventure and war, danger and luck. Like any story that changes the world, it’s a fantastic mythology and legend.
And at its heart is a great and legendary character, Cangjie, the namesake for kanji characters, and a figure so important in the history of writing that his image is carved into the wall of the United States Library of Congress.