Despite being an interesting read, this book is marketed as the biography, but the obvious reality is that it straddles somewhere between a novel and science fiction. The stories, characters, timeline and political wrangling of the book nicely blurs the line between fact and fiction, which was no doubt the goal of the author.
When the original books were published in the 1980's (The Wandering Taoist, Seven Bamboo Tablets of the Cloudy Satchel and Gateway to a Vast World), I managed to track down and speak with Kwan Sai Hung? (and his wife) while he was living in San Diego. I later found that this gentleman supposedly later moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, then susequently to Boston, Massachusetts. The elderly gentleman I spoke with in 1988 is a far cry from the person now claiming to be the 80-year-old Mr, Kwan (who couldn't be a day over 50). At any rate, let me get back to the book.
I don't recommend this book for anyone seeking factual insight into the history of Taoism in China, but for someone who is able to distinguish between reality and fantasy, this book has some benefits, if only as a source of some amusement.
I read Deng Ming Dao's "Chronicles of Tao" many years ago under it's original form of 3 different books. Because of the way my life was at that time, I found it to be a wonderful adventure story. Deng Ming Dao is a master story teller and Kwan Saihung is a facinating subject. Later, after a major spiritual awakening, I reread it and found something deeper: the story of a man's spiritual journey through the practice of Taoism. Later still, I discovered Tai Chi and Qigong and upon another reading of "Chronicles of Tao", I found a lot of information about Taoist Qigong and health practices that I had missed in previous readings. Then one day I saw an ad in "QI" Magazine that Master Kwan Saihung was giving a seminar on Taoist Health Practices in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was literally on a plane bound for St. Paul 2 weeks later to meet this "Wandering Taoist". That first seminar was the first of many lessons with Master Kwan who is alive and well and still teaching in New England. He is the Master teacher I was searching for for many years and Deng Ming Tao's excellent book, "Chronicles of Tao" led me to my Master. Which brings to mind an old Chinese saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Marilynn Seits email@example.com