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Book Review: The Magician of Lhasa

March 17, 2010

“The Magician Of Lhasa”
by David Michie
Published by Trapdoor Books

I think this tidbit, from the publishers website, can give you a bit of insight to what this book has in store… “Trapdoor Books believes that by giving a new voice to authors without imposing overtly commercial constraints on their work, the stranglehold of formulaic writing can be broken and the world of fiction, along with the real world, can provide a better and more rewarding experience for all of us.” Wow!

I believe wholeheartedly they, Trapdoor Books being the “they”, have truly broken the mold with this book. Not only is the idea fresh, but it’s fiction, not a manual on Buddhism or meditation. Maybe I am just not as aware, but I believe there aren’t many “Buddhist” themed fictional works out there, and if I’m wrong point me in the right direction.

That being said, I haven’t sat down and read a book this quickly in a while. The story is laid out in two separate tales, each running concurrently, it seems at first, throughout the book. The first story introduces us to a young and upcoming nano-technology scientist named Matt Lester. Matt’s claim to fame is a project titled Nanobot, which sparks interest from an overseas investor who is willing to move Matt, and his girlfriend, to the US to broaden the horizon of the project. After much chagrin he is able to convince said girlfriend to move away from her family and trust in his and her own career. The future is bright, or so it seems…

The second storyline transports us to 1959 during the Red Army invasion of Tibet. We are acquainted to Tenzin Dorje, a young and novice Tibetan monk. After news reaches his monastery, his Lama sets in motion a plan that the monks in the monastery had been fearing, yet planning for, many years ahead of the invasion. Tenzin, his brother Palden as well as his teacher are given the task of “smuggling” ancient Dharma scrolls out of Tibet so that they not fall in the hands of the Chinese, but also to fulfill a prophecy left behind by Padmasambhava himself.

As we follow the struggles that the three have in escaping Tibet, Matt has a chance encounter, albeit it at 3am, with a Tibetan monk who resides across the street from the new place he and his girlfriend move into. This sets up our path to the conclusion of the book, little by little hints are given as to how both stories intersect.

The only negative about this book is the fact it ended. I really enjoyed this story and hope that there will be a second installment? Maybe a series? Anyone at Trapdoor, is this gonna happen? Please?!?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2010 11:50 am

    Thanks, Nate! I’m always up for book suggestions, and I was wondering if this one was any good.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of Buddhist fiction myself. I wonder…

  2. March 17, 2010 10:55 am

    Great review, Nate. Novels I’ve enjoyed with a Buddhist theme are Buddha Da, Sky Burial, Jake Fades, and the works of Eliot Pattison (the Shan Tao Yun series with a Buddhist and strong Tibet-China conflict theme). There are many more but that’s just what stands out for me.

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