Tiger Magic: The Tiger's Apprentice Series #3by Laurence Yep
Tom has always been a reluctant apprentice. But since his grandmother's death, he's assisted the tiger Mr. Hu in guarding the magical phoenix egg. When the phoenix hatches prematurely, Tom faces his greatest challenge of all. The phoenix believes Tom is his mother, and suddenly it's Tom's turn to be a good teacher and parent, which is especially hard when your child has the power to destroy the earth.
A full-blown war has erupted between evil Lord Vatten's troops and the Alliance led by Mr. Hu. Tom and his motley crew of friends are in for the battle of their lives - and the hardest part may be keeping their allies united in the fight.
In this exciting conclusion to the Tiger's Apprentice trilogy, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award recipient and two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep reveals the ultimate strength of loyalty, friendship, and family and how the true power of magic is knowing when to use it.
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The Tiger's Apprentice, Book Three
By Laurence Yep
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
She looks most like a fox with wings and honks like a wild goose. When people see her, they know a terrible drought is coming.
--Shan Hai Ching
The King of all birds has feathers as red as cinnabar and appears only in times of peace and justice. It is said to have the power to make evil creatures good.
The Chinatown antique store seemed as deserted as the alley. The closed sign hung on the front door beneath yellow strips with strange pictures and words in red ink. But that was deceptive, for deep within the basement, the tiger wizard, Mr. Hu, was debating strategy with the Lady Torka, who was in charge of the defenders. She had taken her true form, of a fox with a beautiful pair of snowy white wings. The feathers were tipped with edged steel so that they looked like rows of daggers. Around one foreleg was a cloth band with a headless snake, the emblem of the rebels.
"Everything is ready," the tiger said, his voice echoing in the huge chamber that had been created just last month beneath his store. He sat upon one of the many cushioned benches. "The dragon mages have created the portal charms and we are placing them around Chinatown. The dragons will come when we sendword."
Lady Torka accepted a cup of tea from Tom, the boy who was Mr. Hu's apprentice. She seemed too dainty to have led a group of rebels against their terrible master, Vatten, and to now face dreadful punishments if captured.
She tapped her folded white fan against her chin. "The dragons take a risk in coming here when their own kingdom is under attack," Lady Torka warned.
"His Highness knows the risk, but the stakes are worth it," Mr. Hu said as he took the other cup from his apprentice.
"If only we can make this happen." Lady Torka's frustrated sigh sent the steam whirling about over her cup. "So far, Vatten has had the initiative. He strikes where and when he wants but never with his whole strength. It is like fighting a will-o'-the-wisp. We need to lure all of Vatten's forces into the open so we can crush them."
"We have to draw him into a trap somehow," Mr. Hu agreed.
For ages in China, Vatten had been seeking the fabled phoenix, who had the power to change people's wills, either for good or evil. A past Guardian had fled to America with the phoenix egg, where it had passed into the hands of succeeding Guardians, including Tom's grandmother and now Mr. Hu.
Mr. Hu had managed to create an alliance of Lady Torka's rebels, who had once served Vatten, the dragons, and a force of heroes and spirits from China. It was the crowning achievement, so far, of Mr. Hu's brief Guardianship to bring together these former foes, united by their hatred of Vatten and their desire to keep the phoenix from the mad monster's control.
When Vatten's spies had stolen the phoenix egg, Tom and Mr. Hu had both nearly died recovering it. They had retreated to the dragon kingdom, where the dragons, desperate to fight off Vatten's followers, had stolen the egg for themselves and forced the phoenix to hatch prematurely.
With the birth of the phoenix, old powers stirred from their slumbers to wreak havoc again; and for the last month, the world had gone to war--though few humans knew it. Around the world, in the wilds of the land and sea, fantastical armies drew themselves up into ranks and fought fiercely, with no mercy being asked or given, as Vatten's followers sought to reach the phoenix and the allies tried to prevent them.
However, the deadliest and greatest battle was currently being waged in San Francisco's Chinatown. Friend and foe operated in small units, hunting and being hunted. Struggles broke out in alleys, on rooftops, and within the sewers, and were as vicious as they were brief, ending before the police arrived, with all the casualties removed. As yet, neither side wanted human interference in their shadow war. The television and newspapers blamed any destruction on gang warfare; and even though the human gangs insisted they were not at fault, no one believed them.
Tom nearly dropped the tray when he heard the screech. Shrill and angry, the sound ripped through a roof and two floors and into the subterranean chamber. Tom couldn't help trembling, which made the tea pot rattle.
Tom wondered what dreadful monster was trying to break into the store now. He'd already fought some creatures straight out of his nightmares--and a few so awful he could never have imagined them.
Even the battle-hardened Lady Torka glanced upward anxiously. "Are you sure the phoenix is safe here?"
"The store was a former bank, so it's strong structurally, and it's on the nexus of several lines of ch'i. My wards have made it into a fortress against most magic," Mr. Hu said. He took the tray with the Spode teapot from his nervous apprentice and set it down on the bench. "And I trust your warriors." As if on cue, the screeching ended abruptly as the defenders dealt with the threat.
With each passing day, the store felt more and more like a prison and everyone's nerves became frayed by the daily assaults. Tom found himself prowling about the store almost as much as the tiger did.
Lady Torka rose. "Still, I should see what's happened. Thank you for the tea. It was quite delicious," she said, as calmly as if she were leaving to tend her garden.
Mr. Hu sprang from the couch and bowed. "As you see fit, Lady Torka. Only a fool would argue with your wisdom."
"Take good care of our phoenix, Thomas." Lady Torka saluted him with her fan. Her eyes lingered on the golden scale on Tom's cheek.
Excerpted from Tiger Magic
by Laurence Yep
Copyright © 2006 by Laurence Yep.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.
Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.
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