The Initiate Brother (1991)
Art: Michael Whelan The One Kingdom
480 pages
ISBN 0-88677-466-7
published by DAW Books

When I began The Initiate Brother (originally called A Journey to Seh) I was looking for a way to write fantasy without producing yet another Tolkien imitation. I was fairly knowledgeable (I mistakenly thought) about the history and literature of Japan and China and decided to set a book in an imaginary Asian world drawn from those sources - just as Tolkien had drawn from Norse sagas and the Finnish Kalevala.

I knew that the Japanese were not indigenous to Japan but had come from the continent somewhere (no one knows where) so I postulated a very ancient continental empire where Chinese and Japanese influences could be credibly blended.

I was strongly influenced by the Tale of Genji, the old Samurai epics, T'ang dynasty poetry, and books like Journey to the West.

Unfortunately I didn't visit Asia until after the books were finished. I would have had a lot more material to add. The Imperial Purple City in Hua, Vietnam was really an evocative place, as was the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, and another Buddhist temple out in the middle of a shallow lake surrounded by tall limestone towers like Qua Ling gorge in China.   Next

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