The Library of Legends: A Novel (Paperback)
“The Library of Legends is a gorgeous, poetic journey threaded with mist and magic about a group from a Chinese university who take to the road to escape the Japanese invasion of 1937 – only to discover that danger stalks them from within. Janie Chang pens pure enchantment!” —Kate Quinn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress
From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road comes a captivating historical novel—the third in a loosely-connected trilogy—in which a young woman travels across China with a convoy of student refugees, fleeing the hostilities of a brutal war with Japan.
“Myths are the darkest and brightest incarnations of who we are…”
China, 1937: When Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Lian and a convoy of more than a hundred students, faculty, and staff must walk a thousand miles to the safety of China’s western provinces, a journey marred by hunger, cold, and the constant threat of aerial attack. And it is not just the student refugees who are at risk: Lian and her classmates have been entrusted with a priceless treasure, a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.
Her family’s past has made Lian wary of forming attachments, but the students’ common duty to safeguard the Library of Legends forms unexpected bonds. Lian finds friendship and a cautious romance with the handsome and wealthy Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is murdered and another arrested, Lian realizes she must escape from the convoy before a family secret puts her in danger. Accompanied by Shao and the enigmatic maidservant Sparrow, Lian makes her way to Shanghai, hoping to reunite with her mother.
On the journey, Lian learns of the connection between her two companions and a tale from the Library of Legends, The Willow Star and the Prince. Learning Shao and Sparrow’s true identities compels Lian to confront her feelings for Shao. But there are broader consequences too, for as the ancient books travel across China, they awaken immortals and guardian spirits to embark on an exodus of their own, one that changes the country’s fate forever.
Based on true events, rich in Chinese history and lore, The Library of Legends is both an illuminating exploration of China’s recent past and an evocative tale of love, sacrifice, and the extraordinary power of storytelling.
About the Author
Born in Taiwan, JANIE CHANG has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, New Zealand and Canada. She writes historical fiction with a personal connection, drawing from family history and ancestral stories. Chang has a degree in computer science and is a graduate of the Writer’s Studio Program at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road.
“The Library of Legends is a gorgeous, poetic journey threaded with mist and magic about a group from a Chinese university who take to the road to escape the Japanese invasion of 1937 – only to discover that danger stalks them from within. Janie Chang pens pure enchantment!”
— Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network
“Janie Chang has beautifully melded history and the spirit world to create an adventurous love story for all of us readers who love books and who, in a perfect world, would do anything to save them.”
— Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of The Island of Sea Women and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
“Chang expertly weaves mysticism and historical details, and sets up a cast of memorable characters. This will charm readers from the very first page.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Janie Chang’s The Library of Legends is a delicious mix of history, myth, and romance. Chang deftly intertwines Chinese folklore and historical detail to create a magical, heartfelt read.”
— Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation and Searching for Sylvie Lee
“Janie Chang’s The Library of Legends delivers stark historical truths on the tail of a shooting star. Absolutely enchanting.”
— Ana Johns, bestselling author of The Woman in the White Kimono
“Love and fate entangle in a tender tale of star-crossed romance and scholarship. In The Library of Legends, Janie Chang whisks the reader on a journey of a lifetime, with the transportation of a university library of rare books across China. Based on Chang’s father’s own experience as a student-in-exile, it interweaves the pressures of war with a poignant saga of love lost and gained. Vibrant, rich, and moving, The Library of Legends brings an unusual true episode in Chinese history to shimmering, heartfelt life.”
— Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghost Bride and The Night Tiger
“Janie Chang brings wartime China to life in The Library of Legends, imbuing her characters with the same epic qualities they find in the mythic figures that follow them on their journey to safety. Moving smoothly between historical fiction and magic realism, this is a beautifully written story of love, hope, and courage.”
— Bryn Turnbull, author of The Woman Before Wallis
“Janie Chang has done it again with this story of an exodus of young students -- treasured as China’s future -- intermingled with an imaginary, unconventional departure of mystical beasts and legendary deities during a war that changes China forever. Evocative, unforgettable, The Library of Legends is truly out of this world!”
— Weina Dai Randel, award-winning author of The Moon in the Palace
“Atmospheric and beautifully told, Janie Chang has woven a tale that tugs on the threads of China’s history and legend alike. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story of love amidst war, hope amidst sacrifice.”
— Stephanie Marie Thornton, USA Today bestselling author of And They Called It Camelot
“The Library of Legends is a luminous and enthralling story set during a pivotal period in the making of modern China, and highlights the Chinese determination to preserve their culture by saving precious historical treasures at great sacrifice. The exploits of historical characters and ancient mythological beings are interwoven in a blend of wonder, courage, and suspense.”
— Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author of The Splendor Before the Dark, The Confessions of Young Nero, Elizabeth I, and The Autobiography of Henry VIII
Praise for: Dragon Springs Road “Janie Chang’s second novel is a remarkable read, brimming with magic and the grit of realism. . . . With this novel, Chang asserts herself as an exciting, relatable voice . . . that requires us to re-examine our relationships to place, identity, and ancestry.”
— Quill & Quire (starred review)
“Beautifully told . . . fascinating . . . a great choice for a book club.”
— Huffington Post
“Lyrical and magical . . . Chang’s lovingly crafted novel will resonate with readers long after the story is done.”
— RT Book Reviews
“Dragon Springs Road is simply one of the best novels I have read in a long time. With her lyrical, heartfelt portrait of a vanished world . . . Janie Chang has created an enchanting and unforgettable book. I recommend it unreservedly.”
— Jennifer Robson, author of The Gown
“Chang unfurls this intriguing story—set against the chaotic backdrop of China in the early twentieth century-with precision. Rich with detail and a fascinating interplay between the spiritual and earthly realms, Chang’s second novel explores whether it is possible to overcome your past.”
— Booklist on DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD
“Janie Chang has a keen eye for detail and infuses them throughout this magical story, with its masterfully rendered setting of the early Chinese republic, characters who bring to life the constrictions of those girls, and a mystical benevolent spirit. The result is enchanting.”
— Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son on DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD
“Both heartbreaking and hopeful, Janie Chang’s first novel is an immersive and enjoyable read.”
— Booklist on THREE SOULS