We’ve selected the famous epic novel Investiture of the Gods for our next project. This is another long and complex story, set in ancient China at the time of the fall of the Shang Dynasty in 1050 BC. It’s about a foolish young king who falls in love with a goddess and writes a highly offensive love poem to her on her temple wall. Furious, the goddess dispatches a thousand year old fox demon to replace the soul of Daji, a beautiful young woman. The fox demon seduces the king and leads him down the path of destruction for himself and his kingdom.
The book has lots of action and adventure in it, but it also explores the inner conflict of those who are loyal to the kingdom but are confronted by a king who no longer deserves their loyalty.
The title of the original Chinese novel is 封神榜 (Fēng Shén Bǎng), with those three words roughly translating as “confer gods proclamation.” The title most often used in English is The Investiture of the Gods, or sometimes The Legend of Deification, but those titles make little sense to most readers. So we are giving the book a new and simpler title, The Last King of Shang, because, well, that’s what the book is about!
Just like Journey to the West, the original book was written in 100 chapters and is nearly as long. But instead of publishing dozens of small books like we did before, this time we are publishing the story in six longer volumes, each one containing roughly 17 chapters. We’ll use the same book design as before, with pinyin pages facing the Chinese character pages.
Right now we are hard at work on the first volume. Estimated publication date is July 2023, with subsequent volumes coming every two or three months thereafter.
If you want to get a head start on the story, I’d recommend watching a 63-episode Chinese TV series called “Investiture of the Gods.” It’s available on Amazon Prime here. The TV series makes some major departures from the plot of the original book, but it’s still worth watching, both to get familiar with the main events of the novel and also to learn to understand spoken Chinese. (I watched it in Chinese with English subtitles.)
We will send out another newsletter when the first volume is finished!