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Jade Hunter
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-467-7
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 335 Pages
Published: July 2007



From inside the flap

In the mid-fifteenth century a unique piece of jade is discovered in south-western China. Within days its discoverer is murdered. The jade is stolen, but the thieves themselves die at the hands of a cousin of the emperor Dai Zong, a powerful military leader, who sends the jade to Beijing where is it carved into a masterpiece depicting two identical dragons. Identical, that is, but for one remarkable feature. The sculpture is presented to the emperor by his kinsman but he spurns the gift and the jade is stolen once again and sold out of China along the Silk Road to Arabia.

From Baghdad the sculpture crosses the Mediterranean Sea to Italy where it becomes the property of the mighty Medici family of Florence, but eventually even they are forced by the Church to relinquish it. The sculpture travels north to Bruges from where it is acquired by English merchants who try to sell it to King Henry VIII. The attempt proves catastrophic, however, due to wholly unexpected circumstances, and an enraged King Henry orders it destroyed, a fate only narrowly escaped through the intervention of a nobleman who sends the carving away from London. Descendants of that aristocrat re-discover the sculpture after centuries of concealment, neglect, war and rebellion, and it is placed aboard an English warship which sails the high seas before going to war against Napoleon. Its rightful ownership disputed at the end of the war, the sculpture is hidden and remains lost for over a hundred years.

This sweeping tale of mystery and adventure is played our against the backdrop story of Jill Howard, a young British sinologist, who discovers the story of the carving in an ancient Chinese text and determines to find it and return it to China. She finally discovers a report that it has been destroyed in a fire, but is that truly the end of its colourful history?


Reviews and Awards

Kathe Gogolewski says of Jade Hunter: "Charles Mossop has written an irresistible tale of mystery and intrigue, enlivened with historical detail, rich descriptions and characterizations. It is evident that he has done a great deal of research into his subject, and has read deeply. The characters are not, as is so often the case, contemporary characters poured into cardboard costumes and given slightly anachronistic speech. The reader feels that the characters are indeed brought to life and are very much a product of their times. Superbly written and elegantly paced, it’s easy to fall under the spell of Mossop’s prose. His clarity and quiet wit propel the reader swiftly through each page of this incredible tale. I highly recommend it."


Jade Hunter (Excerpt)


PROLOGUE

Beijing, China: The Present Day

An Fuling, Professor of Chinese History and Literature at Beijing University, stood gazing in rapt admiration and wonder at the three jade sculptures before him in their bullet-proof and climate-controlled glass display case. The largest sculpture was of two dragons, one black and the other white, and it stood glowing in the light of the flood lamps mounted at each end of the case. Set before this piece were two much smaller jade sculptures, a white bowl and a statue in black of Guan Gong.

The two smaller works had been brought from the museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City, but the central sculpture of the two dragons had come from much further away. The return of the dragon carving to China had become something of a sensation, thanks largely to a press release in the People’s Daily from the Ministry of Culture which announced that one of the greatest jade sculptures ever created had been unexpectedly found and was now on display in the Beijing Art Museum of Stone Carvings. The room set aside for this special display was thronged with citizens and tourists, all curious to see this remarkable work.

Professor An had to push and elbow his way through the milling crowds to reach the display case, and, although the sculpture had been described to him already, he was still overwhelmed by its beauty and perfection.

It is home at last, he thought. Home after nearly six hundred years and untold thousands of miles. I knew it would come back where it truly belongs.

"Excuse me," said an American voice, "do you speak English by any chance?"

"Yes, a little," An answered. "Can I help you?"

"Thanks. I guess this is the famous dragon sculpture everyone’s getting so excited about?"

The man was about forty, dressed in a sports shirt and slacks and looked to An the very epitome of the thousands of tourists who came to Beijing every year.

"Yes. This is it."

"Well would ya’ mind telling me what all the fuss is about? I mean, why is it, so darn important?"

"It is one of China’s greatest treasures," said An. "It was made during the Ming Dynasty, here in Beijing, but it has only just been found."

"No kidding," said the American. "What happened to it?"

"That is a long story," said An. "It was taken out of China, and traveled across continents and oceans, it was bought and sold many times by many famous people, and stolen more than once as well. Men even died in their attempts to own this jade. It’s history is most fascinating."

"That right?"

An nodded.

"It is a magnificent thing, isn’t it?" he asked the visitor.

"I guess," said the tourist doubtfully, "if you’re into dragons in a big way."

"The dragon is very important to the Chinese people," said An. "It is a mythic animal, the symbol of good fortune, prosperity and abundance. Tradition says the Chinese people are the descendants of dragons."

"How come you know so much about the carving?" asked the American.

"It was found by a friend of mine," said An. "And it is because of her that it has now come back to China."

"Oh," said the American. "Well good for her, I guess. I think the thing’s kinda’ gaudy though."

"But just imagine finding a piece of jade of two colors like this, and then being able to carve it into something so beautiful. Think of the skill it must have taken. It is not gaudy, it is magnificent."

"Maybe," shrugged the visitor.

"And don’t you ever wonder how ancient objects survive?" An asked. "How they come to be here today after so many years?"

"Can’t say as I do, really," answered the visitor, and turned to go. "But thanks for the explanation anyway."

The tourist was swallowed up by the crowd, and An watched him go. The poor man has no soul, he thought sadly, and then returned his attention to the dragon sculpture.

It is astounding, he thought, utterly astounding. And what a journey it has taken in its long life. What a journey indeed.