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Abducted from his home by bandits, fifteen-year-old Wang Lee is rescued from slavery by a mysterious girl who introduces him to the Taiping Tienkuo, a secret society partly based on Christian principles and dedicated to the overthrow of the Manchu government.
Posted July 3, 2013
RRebels of the Heavenly Kingdom transports readers into China’s Taiping Rebellion in the mid-nineteenth century. Fifteen-year-old Wang Lee is kidnapped from his peasant family and sold into slavery. His new master Mei Li turns out to be an eighteen-year-old woman dressed as a man who immediately sets him free. He chooses instead to join his rescuer’s Christian rebel group in its mission to overthrow China’s oppressive emperor and spread Christianity throughout the land. Wang Lee moves from ignorance and arrogance toward humility and an acceptance of his own humanity as he trains to become a soldier, experiences the harsh realities of war and struggles to find his way back home.
Katherine Paterson uses elegant prose and a tale of adventure to explore a foreign culture through universal characters whose underlying hopes and aspirations are recognizably our own. The militant Christian group preaches equality regardless of class or gender and abolishes the crippling custom of binding women’s feet into dainty, pointed hooves. The rebels are known to be kind to the poor, never stealing or pillaging as they march to battle. However, the group resorts to draconian penalties for every infraction, including any violation of the war-time order for strict separation of the sexes. When Wang Lee’s philosopher friend suggests that the enemy soldiers they are killing are no different than themselves, Wang Lee reports this disloyalty and sees his friend beheaded as a traitor.
Wang Lee knows that his friend spoke the truth, though, and struggles with the same questions we still wrestle with today: How can a God of love ordain the killing and destruction that accompanies any war and who can we trust to hear the voice of God better than our own selves? Originally published in 1983, this historical novel belongs in every young-adult library collection.
Laurie A. Gray
Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIII, No. 4/5 October December 2009); used with permission.
Posted February 27, 2005
This is an amazing story set in China around 1850-1853. The Manchu are rulling China, the desendents of nomads from the north. The British (long-nosed barbarions) had won their Opium War around 1842. Secret socites flurished ,espesially in the south, and wished to overthrow the Manchu desendent. These Taiping were greatly influnsed by teachings of misinaries from the west, forming their own version of Christianity the started holy wars to save China. Mei Liin and Wang Lee join these rebles and learned how to kill as well as how to read and write. It also talks about the lily footed woman and how tragic it was that their feet must be bound. It is an wonderful book everyone should read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 1999
There's a boy named Wang lee who gets kidnaped by bandits and sold to a group of people that he helps fight with in a Holy war in China. He was saved by a girl named Mei Lin. She is a high ranking officer in the war. He falls in love with her but does not tell her. They both were in many battles. The war went on for almost 4-5 years. One day as they were fighting to get into a city they lose each other. Wang lee is left behind and has to follow the trail of the army to find Mei Lin. When he finds her in a golden city, she tells him that she is to be married to the king. Would she go with Wang Lee or marry the king? This is a really good book. It's about adventure and love. I like this book very much and would recommend it to all of my friends. Hope you read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.