In this, the 4th book in our Journey to the West series, we leave the imprisoned Sun Wukong behind, and tell the story of Xuanzang, the monk chosen by the Buddha to undertake the dangerous journey westward to India and bring sacred wisdom back to China. Unlike the previous books which told of Sun Wukong's great adventures (and misadventures) across heaven and earth, this story deals with smaller, human-scale events and the traditional themes of love, loyalty, treachery and revenge. Our story begins with the Buddha's decision to bring his wisdom to China. Then we meet the young couple – Guangrui and Wenjiao – who become Xuanzang's parents. We witness their terrible ordeals around the time of Xuanzang's birth, and we then jump ahead to when he turns eighteen, learns of his true parentage, and avenges his parents.
This book is based on Journey to The West (西游记, xī yóu jì), an epic novel written in the 16th Century by Wu Chen'en. The novel is loosely based on an actual journey by the Buddhist monk Tangseng (called Xuanzang and Sanzang in earlier books), who traveled from the Chinese city of Chang'an westward to India in 629 A.D. and returned 17 years later with priceless knowledge and texts of Buddhism. Over the course of the book the band of travelers face the 81 tribulations that Tangseng had to endure to attain Buddhahood.
All of the stories in this series are all written in simple language suitable for intermediate Chinese learners. Our core vocabulary is the 600 words of HSK3, plus all the words that were introduced in the previous books of the series. All these words are in the glossary at the back of the book. Whenever we introduce a new word or phrase, it's defined in a footnote on the page where it first appears, and it also appears in the glossary.
In the main body of the book, each page of Chinese characters is matched with a facing page of pinyin. This is unusual for Chinese novels but we feel it's important. By including the pinyin, as well as a full English version and glossary at the end, we hope that every reader, no matter what level of mastery they have of the Chinese language, will be able to understand and enjoy the story we tell here.
Audio versions of all books in this series are available on YouTube, and also available for download on the Imagin8 Press website.