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The Wallet of Kai Lung

Ernest Bramah

Book Overview: 

The Wallet of Kai Lung is a collection of fantasy stories by Ernest Bramah, all but the last of which feature Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. The collection's importance in the history of fantasy literature was recognized by the anthologization of two of its tales in the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .greater burden than that which already weighs him down! Rather ought this one to dwell upon the happiness of that day, when, after successfully evading or overthrowing the numerous bands of assassins which infest the road from here to Canton, and after escaping or recovering from the many deadly pestilences which invariably reduce that city at this season of the year, he shall triumphantly return. Assuredly there is a highly-polished surface united to every action in life, no matter how funereal it may at first appear. Indeed, there are many incidents compared with which death itself is welcome, and to this end Mian has reserved a farewell gift."

Speaking in this manner the devoted and magnanimous maiden placed in Ling's hands the transparent vessel of liquid which the magician had grasped when he fell. "This person," she continued, speaking with difficulty, "places her lover's welfare incomparably before her own happiness, and should he ever find himself in a . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I feel this one could be an acquired taste, or at least appeal to a minority of readers. It’s a set of stories, mostly comic, set in a fantasy version of imperial China and written in a highly elaborate, circumlocutory style. That, for some readers, seems to be the equivalent of saying it’s in code,

Pretty enjoyable and humorous

This shouldn't work. You shouldn't be able to make a collection of stories with forgettable plots, a vaguely defined setting, and non-existent characterization be interesting. Because to do that, you'd have to make it compelling purely on the level of the individual sentence, and that is a ridiculou

An ornate molasses of finely crafted words poured over deft, spritely, witty tales. Old school fantasy writing with nary a monster to be seen.

This book contains many hilarious laugh-out-loud passages, but is also somewhat difficult to read due to the sentence structure and the 'stilted' language. I found it highly enjoyable, but this is not an easy read; you need to concentrate to make sense of the often very long and roundabout sentences

I am both a confirmed Sinophile and a rabid lexiphanicist (i.e., I take unholy glee in big words) but I found this book to be a disappointment. Bramah does an incredible send-up of genteel Edwardian perceptions of Old Cathay, but a parody of a counterfeit just doesn't float my boat. Yes, Bramah's de

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