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A Sudden Dawn: A Martial Arts Novel

A Sudden Dawn: A Martial Arts Novel

4.6 9
by Goran Powell

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Gold Winner - 2011 IP's Living Now AwardsGold Winner - 2011 eLit AwardsWinner - 2011 USA Best Book Award
This epic historical fiction novel opens with a young man named Sardili born of the warrior caste in 507 A.D. Sardili realizes that he would rather seek enlightenment than follow his family's


Gold Winner - 2011 IP's Living Now AwardsGold Winner - 2011 eLit AwardsWinner - 2011 USA Best Book Award
This epic historical fiction novel opens with a young man named Sardili born of the warrior caste in 507 A.D. Sardili realizes that he would rather seek enlightenment than follow his family's military legacy and sets out on a life-long quest for truth and wisdom.

Sardili becomes the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, known as Da Mo in China. He travels throughout India, brings Buddhism to China, and single handedly establishes the Shaolin Temple as the birthplace of Zen and the Martial Arts.

A Sudden Dawn is a refreshing take on the mythical origins of Kung Fu with a good pace, enjoyable interpretation of legendary characters, and wonderfully written adventures during the long journey across Asia.

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YMAA Publication Center
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754 KB

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Meet the Author

Goran Powell, 4th dan, GojuRyu Karate. He is author of two martial arts books, a freelance writer in London and recipient of numerous advertising awards. A regular contributor to martial arts magazines, Powell has twice appeared on the cover of Traditional Karate magazine. This is his first novel. Goran Powell resides in London with his wife and three children.

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A Sudden Dawn: A Martial Arts Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
esparsons More than 1 year ago
I always hesitate when it comes to reading martial arts fiction. Almost by definition, it tends to be on the pulpish side, which I actually don't mind. However, most of it that I have read also tends to be quite cheesy and fairly poorly written, even by pulp standards, which I do mind. However, based on the early reviews and what I had heard of the book, I decided to give A Sudden Dawn a chance. I'm very glad that I did. To begin with, this novel is NOT pulp fiction. Rather, it is a nice example of epic historical fiction in the vein of Yoshikawa's Musashi, which is a genre that tends to serve the martial arts well. Also, Goran Powell is an excellent writer. He expertly weaves several plot lines together throughout the story, leading to a heart-stopping climax, all of his main characters are three-dimensional and believable, and the reader is always left anxious, wondering what will happen next. This book is certainly a page-turner! It is also clear that Powell did his research. Although little is truly known about the life of Bodhidharma, the author has clearly consulted historical opinion and then chosen the conjectures that created the most interesting and compelling storyline. In addition, Powell also does a good job integrating Bodhidharma's Zen philosophy into the text. Like most of the rest of the book, Bodhidharma's descriptions of The Way ring true and can actually be quite inspiring. In fact, certain portions of the tale could serve as a nice introduction to Zen thought. Finally, Powell avoids one of the biggest traps that Westerners writing about the East always seem to fall into - the need to add a Caucasian into the mix. This is a device that probably helps the authors feel more connected to the story, but it also typically serves to detract from the more interesting characters in the tale and almost always creates historical anachronisms that serve to pull the reader out of the book. Thankfully, that is not the case here. Aside from the brief mention of a dancing girl in Nanjing, there is nary a Westerner to be found in A Sudden Dawn. However, that's not to say that there are no anachronisms in the book. For one, names are pronounced as they are in modern times, not as they would have been the 6th Century AD. Of course, this is a minor point and could have been a conscious decision made by the author to make the story more accessible to the modern reader. In addition, some of the romantic entanglements in the book seemed unlikely or even impossible given the nature of the culture in that era of Chinese history. Once again, though, this seems to be simply a case of the author giving the readers what they want to read, so one can find little fault with it. There were also a few other very minor points that didn't seem to quite fit, but these were never enough to take me out of the story. Aside from the above, my only other criticism is that some of the scenes seemed to go by too fast. At nearly 500 pages, this is by no means a short book, but historical fiction, especially of the epic nature, is often much longer. I would gladly have read more pages if it gave the author the chance to linger a bit more in the most interesting places. Overall, though, I must say that I enjoyed this book immensely. I would recommend this one to anybody who likes a rollicking historical historical adventure story, particularly if they also have an interest in the martial arts or Buddhism.
Seer More than 1 year ago
A Sudden Dawn is a work of historical fiction, tracing the legendary path of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist master from India, as he traveled to China and brought Zen and the martial arts to the Shaolin Temple. Powell makes for some exquisite characterizations. Bodhidharma comes across as a like-able, even charismatic, monk, who gives simple, common sense advice to anyone who asks for it... Even an emperor. Kuan/Ko is a sympathetic guy who always seems to get stuck with the short straw. We meet Liang half-way through the book, and even as a maid in the royal palace, she is a character to love almost instantly. She reminded me of Martin's Arya from A Game of Thrones. The only thing stronger than his characters, are his action scenes. As a martial artist, the author is familiar with hand-to-hand combat, and it shows. Fans of R.A. Salvatore may find this kind of writing welcome, and familiar. A Sudden Dawn's five hundred pages are used to the fullest, keeping the plot moving at a brisk pace. If I had only one wish, it would be for more description of the exotic (to me) scenery of Bodhidharma's journey, but this is a minor concern, and didn't stop me from plowing through it in three days. The story has a little something for everyone: epic scale, martial arts action, romance, and adventure. I was delighted to find some short segments of folklore, reminiscent of Steinbeck. Not recommended for children/young teens, due to explicit depictions of sex, sexual harassment, and graphic violence.
Marius_Ursus More than 1 year ago
Goran Powell has taken the classic legend of Bodhidharma and fleshed into a gripping story that is difficult to put down. Each character has its own personality, and the protagonist is developed from a precocious boy into a very wise Buddhist master. The journey described in the book takes little pieces of history and culture, and Powell has woven them quite seamlessly into the fabric of his story. The combat is explained very well, realistic, and it is obvious that the author has more than simply a theoretical knowledge of martial arts. Anyone interested in Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism, the Shaolin Temple, or the history of China would enjoy A Sudden Dawn. There are a few liberties taken with the history of Shaolin and Da Mo (Bhodhidharma) as they are known today, but they are easily overlooked in favor of creating an epic tale of the roots of Zen Buddhism.
ValleySally More than 1 year ago
I am not typically into fantasy-fiction and I know little about martial arts, so I was skeptical when I began reading this book. After just a few pages I knew that I had been proven wrong! The plot kept me intrigued while the characters kept me wanting to find out more. A great book for men and women alike, and for those like me, that have never even picked up a similar novel before. Give it a read, you will be pleasantly surprised!
OwlMatt More than 1 year ago
For starters, despite the cover's claim that this is "a martial arts novel", this book is much more about Buddhism than it is about the martial arts. Readers who have read up on Buddhism will find a lot that is familiar in here, and readers who don't know much about it will find it nicely explained in very simple terms as Powell's characters come to understand Buddhism for themselves. There is some good martial arts action here. Powell knows his martial arts well enough to make his action believable, but doesn't get so bogged down in realism as to keep Bodhidharma from being a legendary figure. The plot of the book is constrained a little by Powell's adherence to the Bodhidharma legend. Like the legend, it is a little thin at the beginning of Bodhidharma's life, and like the legend, the story ends rather abruptly. All in all, though, the book was a fun and satisfying read, especially recommended for readers with an interest in Buddhism.
Lionsfan2 More than 1 year ago
I received this both with both hesitation and excitement. I am considered by some to be a martial artist but I do not understand a lot about the Buddhist faith of worship. But I began to read with an open mind and I found that this book was hard to put down. The story was well written and interwove numerous characters together wonderfully. I can see why there was quite a bit of excitement prior to this book being released - I thought it was very good. If you are looking for a book that will, have you looking at your life or just for a not-so-casual read, then this book is for you. Actually, I would recommend this book to anyone.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 507 in the capital city of Kanchipuram of the Kingdom of Pallava in India, young military academy trainee Sarili hears the words of Prajnatara the Buddhist master and begins to question whether he wants to follow in his father's warrior footsteps of seek enlightenment. He chooses the latter and follows the sage to Sri Lanka and elsewhere. A serious student of Buddha, Sarili becomes Bodhidharma the monk as he treks across India and teaches the Emperor; journeys over the Himalayas in Tibet and brings Ch'an Buddhism to China where he is called Da Mo. However, he is appalled by the enfeebled monks he meets so he creates the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province and places the faithful on a strict regiment including kung fu. This is an entertaining biographical fiction that enables the reader to understand the life of the founder of the Shaolin movement; in fact the temple Bodhidharma constructed over fifteen centuries ago is still there. Although the romance elements feel forced, the era and the hero come across vividly clear. Readers who appreciate a deep ancient Asian tale will enjoy this super glimpse at a devoted sixth century legendary Buddhist monk. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Initially I wasn't overly optimistic about reading Goran Powell's "Sudden Dawn" and really not expecting much - and since it's a fairly long novel at close to 500 pages - I was mildly concerned that it might be a chore to get through. I was wrong! I'm not sure exactly how long it took before I was "hooked", but by the second or third page I was on a fantastic journey and there was no turning back. Goran Powell's epic historical novel is based on the life of Bodhidharma or Da Mo (as he was known in China). Legend - and to some extent, recorded history - has it that Da Mo traveled from India to the Shaolin temple in China where he introduced Zen Buddhism and exercise routines that are considered the foundation of Shaolin martial arts. Mr. Powell has created a riveting, sweeping travel saga, based on legend, myth and (some) historical fact, that spans the vast expanse from southeastern India, to the foothills and mountains of Tibet, the Emperor's palace in Nanjing and finally to the Shaolin temple in Song Shan, China. Along the way Mr. Powell introduces us to a cast of extraordinary characters so endearing that I'm still thinking about them - and the Zen Buddhist lessons I learned from them - days after finishing the book. Although Zen Buddhism and martial arts are central elements to the story, "Sudden Dawn" has a universal appeal and I highly recommend it to anyone who would enjoy a brilliantly crafted historical novel and enthralling epic adventure.
Chessed5770 More than 1 year ago
I am half way through this book and I am enthralled. Excellent character development! I have a hard time putting this one down. The story unfolds in the most captivating manor and the author's writing style fully engages your senses. Fight scenes are masterfully developed: I have often found that any book focusing on the martial arts falls short when it comes to describing fight scenes. This is not true here. You envision the entire scene as Mr. Powell pulls you through. I am a big fan of the fantasy epic, but have found only a few great ones. amongst them: (OF COURSE.) "DUNE", THE LORD OF THE RINGS" and Stephen King's: "DARK TOWER" tome (My personal favorite). I very much believe that Goran Powell has the ability to write the next great epic fantasy/adventure of our age.