Cover image for Sign of the Qin
Sign of the Qin
Geringer, Laura, 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, [2004]

Physical Description:
383 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
In long-ago China, Prince Zong, the mortal young Starlord chosen to save humankind from destruction, joins the twin outlaws, White Streak and Black Whirlwind, to fight the Lord of the Dead and his demon hordes.
Reading Level:
1200 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 8.1 17.0 78012.

Reading Counts RC High School 10. 22 Quiz: 36466 Guided reading level: NR.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A volcanic eruption releases a vanguard of demons, sealed away for centuries beneath the earth. Soon after, the Emperor's first son is born, marked with the sign of the Qin-the brand of the outlaw! Could the child be the new Starlord, destined to restore justice to the land? The emperor plots to kill his only heir before the boy can usurp his throne. But the assassin is foiled by a mysterious monk whose magical tattoos foretell the future, and a trickster monkey who longs for immortality. A host of warring guardians must ultimately unite to help the Starlord unlock the kung fu secrets of the Twelve Scrolls and save the earth from destruction. But first, the Prince must fulfill his destiny, and join the twin leaders of the legendary outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh in a war against the Lord of the Dead. The first in a trilogy, Sign of the Qin draws upon Chinese myth and legend in a tour de force of classic storytelling. L.G. Bass is a student of martial arts, a former teacher and journalist, and a fan of kung fu films. The author lives with her husband and two sons in New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a post-Potter world where Oscars accrue to films set in Middle Earth, publishers' "big" books (the ones that receive the lion's share of publicity) are often fantasies. Though Sign of the Qin, doesn't boast the celebrity of Harry Potter or G.P. Taylor's Shadowmancer, its lavish galley copy suggests that it has been launched with similarly high expectations. The real question is whether the book will continue to circulate after the initial buzz fades. Readers whose spirituality inclines toward Eastern traditions may find Bass' treatment of the good-versus-evil theme enticing. Bass draws upon the myths, legends, philosophies, and classic literature of China to craft her complex epic, set during an unspecified period in Chinese history. The first volume in a planned trilogy, the novel introduces the main players, earthly and otherwise, in an epic battle between the King of Heaven and the King of Hell. What works here is Bass' evocative language, her colorful cast of demonic enemies, and scenes of whirling, knife-throwing kung fu warriors that call forth Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But the story's mythic tone and the sheer number of characters have a distancing effect; the third-person narrator never settles on its primary young protagonists (the child-hero Prince Zong, the outlaw White Streak) long enough for readers to feel involved in their grand struggles. This is a better and more original novel than G. P. Taylor's Shadowmancer, but in the end, it suffers from a similar problem: characters too overshadowed by pyrotechnical plots and thematic enthusiasms to fully fire the imagination. -Jennifer Mattson --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bass's (Silverpoint) sprawling eastern fantasy, the first in the planned Outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh trilogy, conjures Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in its confident tone and authoritative use of legend, archetype and spiritually-based martial arts tradition. In a realm partially inspired by ancient China, mankind teeters on the verge of destruction as the Lord of the Dead, Yamu, works to arise and blanket the world in chaos; his servant, the evil Emperor Han, fathers a son, but the boy is born with the Sign of the Qin, a mark carried by the noble outlaws who work against Han. Fearful, Han exiles the boy's mother and tries to kill the boy, who may be the prophesied reincarnation of the Starlord, savior of humanity. The gods become involved, assigning the trickster Monkey to protect the boy; while Han's and Yamu's minions seek out the young Prince, so too does his mother. She in turn is aided by the fascinating Tattooed Monk, the scholar-warrior whose tattoos shift to offer signs and omens. However complex, these threads of the story line still don't scratch the surface of this densely layered, multi-faceted novel. Bass's cosmology borders on the encyclopedic; her book reads like an exploration of an ages-old mythology rather than the invention of a new one. Fantasy readers looking for a break from conventional swords and sorcery will likely become enthralled. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-This book, a multistranded opener to a trilogy, is teeming with monsters, dragons, deities, tricksters, and demons-drawn largely but not exclusively from Chinese myth-plus an array of larger-than-life heroes and villains of both sexes. Readers are propelled from the lush opulence of the Emperor's palace to the filthy slums outside it, from misty swamps to the Gobi's desolation, from Heaven to the Netherworld dominion of Yamu, god of death. In the tradition of both classical Chinese epics and modern kung fu films, the relentlessly episodic plot takes frequent wrenching turns into set-piece comic or battle scenes, punctuated by eye-popping feats of derring-do. Young Prince Zong, born bearing a birthmark that presages a glittering destiny, grows with magical speed in the care of whiny, capricious Monkey, as his mother, Silver Lotus, flees into exile under a sentence of death. She travels with General Calabash, a monk covered in mobile, prophetic tattoos, and Yamu dispatches a lurid corps of demonic minions to prepare the way for a cataclysmic invasion. Along with bands of colorful outlaws, all eventually converge for a climactic skirmish that leaves Yamu poised to make his move. The action scenes are compellingly wild and woolly, and if, as usual, Monkey steals the show (along with everything else that's not nailed down), all of the main players are equally strong, vivid characters-which bodes well for future installments.-John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.