I am often quiet about a book when I don't quite know where I stand. If I love it or hate it, then I have to tell others what is going on in my head /heart! This one has good things and bad. It is basically an adventure-mystery-intrigue novel with romance thrown in too. I was looking more for interesting tidbits on the Khmer culture (9-15th Century)..... but no, it is not bad. I immediately worry when I find myself with a novel of intrigue, contentious opponents and warring factions. I am sure I will not understand all the clues, so I get tense. Needless to say, this IS counter-productive. On completion, I had a huge smile on my face: YAY, I understood it. I understood how all the parts came together! So don’t worry if you are like me.
The writing is really, very good – descriptive, emotive, tantalizing. The author's aim is clearly to write a suspenseful tale. Pick this book if it is that which you are looking for. There is a bit about the Khmer Empire but really not much. Some people say the action takes too long to really commence; it is in fact in the last five chapters that the real action begins, but I liked how the setting moves from Shanghai to Saigon and finally Cambodia. These places are wonderfully depicted, each with its proper colors, aroma and feel. The tension builds as you learn about the different people. This book did not give me what I thought it would deliver, but it was lots of fun.
Narration by Karyn O’Bryant is well done. In the dialog passages you know immediately which character is speaking! This is helpful in an audiobook. I am amazed at how narrators can pull this off. What talent!
There is no author’s note at the end, which explains what is fact and what is fiction, but I asked the author. She says, “The scrolls (the characters are looking for 10 copper scrolls) are not real; what was real, especially at the time period of the book, is that the history of the Khmers was considered a great mystery. All of the questions I raise about their disappearance were real questions being explored at the time, and when I reveal any conclusions, those are based on historical facts (or the best that is known about the Khmer). Characters are fictional, except famous Communist people.”