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The Purpose of Music in China

J.S.Bach - widely acclaimed as one of the greatest composers of music in the history of the world. I myself am very partial to his Brandenburg Concertos. For most people in the world today, music is... well its music. Something to listen to at any time, to suit your mood or to relax or to dance. Music, the notes, the instruments aren't about anything in particular - and I mean this quite seriously. Music today is just sounds, sometimes pleasing, sometimes odd, and in conjunction with the human voice, music can convey many emotions. But the music itself? It is what it is. Bach helped create this way of looking at music, though he was a composer for a major church for most of his life, his music was less…

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About writing The Flame Iris Temple
The Flame Iris Temple

About writing The Flame Iris Temple

I started plotting out the book in November of 2017, at the same time as my editor was working on “The Fire Sword”. I wrote the last scene in the book around January of 2018, while I was still working on a contract case at the law firm. The idea came to me as I was driving along a freeway in Oakland, California. At the time it struck me a deeply moving scene and I had to stop and write a brief outline as soon as I arrived at the parking garage. I thought "I've got at least one great scene in the book, there is hope!" I began the actual writing in March of 2018 and I nearly finished the battle in Flame Iris Temple by July when I…

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The Terrible Disease in China – 1330 to 1350
Red Turban Army

The Terrible Disease in China – 1330 to 1350

Most Americans and Europeans have heard of the Black Death which swept across Europe starting in 1347. However, most people have not heard that something very similar struck down millions in China during the same time period. The first half of the 1300s were a terrible time in China’s history. The Mongol conquest of China (finalized with the conquest of capital of the Song Dynasty in 1276) resulted in decades of mis-rule, brutal repression of popular discontent, famines, and civil unrest which ultimately resulted in a civil war that last for more than a decade. This terrible time finally ended with the victory of the Ming government over all its rivals and the establishment of a unified, and highly functional national government. Part of the reason for the popular unrest…

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Japan’s Invasion of Korea – 1592-1598

"A Dragon's Head and a Serpent's Tail" by Kenneth Swope (2009) at Amazon.com Korea historically has been uninterested in waging war on its neighbors. The country has an easily defined northern border (mountains in the center, the Yalu river to the northwest, and the Tumen river to the northeast; in all other directions Korea is surrounded by the sea. When Korea unified under the Silla Kingdom around 670, the natural borders gradually solidified in people’s minds, though the northern border was rarely peaceful.  After the Joseon Dynasty took control of Korea in 1394, the country experienced nearly uninterrupted peace for the next ~200 years - and then Japan invaded.  Japan’s invasion of Korea in 1592 is a very strange event in world history. Never before had Japan launched an invasion…

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The Flame Iris Temple is Done!
The Flame Iris Temple

The Flame Iris Temple is Done!

The third novel in the series, titled "The Flame Iris Temple" is done. Finished. Complete. The last edit to the final production file has been made as of 11 PM, March 11, 2020. With luck and assuming Amazon.com keeps publishing, the paperback and eBook should be available for sale before the end of March. The Flame Iris Temple was not an easy book for me to write. The themes include: What do you do with great power?What is the religion of Serica? What do the people believe, and why?How do you live in a foreign land? I think it is an adventure novel but part of the adventure takes place not in this world.

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The Fire Sword AudioBook is available

The AudioBook version of The Fire Sword is now on sale from Amazon.com. You can find it here: AudioBook of the Fire Sword. The AudioBook runs about 15 hours long and was narrated by the Author (me). It has some short musical preludes at the start of each chapter, one of which was played by my lovely and talented fiancee on her Guzheng. The Guzheng is a beautiful stringed instrument, played by plucking strings. In western terms, it is a harp, laid flat (in The Fire Sword, I call it a Timbal, or "the flat harp"). For centuries the guzheng existed as one of the Chinese court instruments, used to create music for the various yearly rituals. Since court music is no longer played, the guzheng is now used to…

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