4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Skookum Yi is part of the Mugwa in Korea, a warrior. As a courier man, he handles Korea’s tribute to China and makes sure it reaches the Empress of China. When Japanese insurgents intercept the tribute under Yi’s charge, he becomes a disgrace and is forced to flee Korea. Yi’s journey leads him to different places, including Alaska, Canada, and San Francisco. He meets Ephraim, who he regards affectionately, but the Spuytens murder Ephraim. Yi must regain his honor and pay the Spuytens back in their coin. To regain his honor, Yi enlists the help of the US Navy, particularly officers Hobson and Draper. They must steal gold ingots from Imperial Japan. But international matters are not so straightforward, especially when love and lust are involved.
The Abalone Ukulele by R. L. Crossland has five parts. The first part covered Yi’s story, including how Japan made him a disgrace. I was glad for this insightful detail into Yi’s background, and it set the tone for later parts of the story. Readers get to feel Yi’s humility, foresight, and suffering. After Yi’s story, we soon see Hobson. While there is not much focus on his backstory, the author managed to flesh out Hobson’s character, letting us know why he is emotionally tied to Korea and why Yi would eventually hold him in high regard.
By the time we meet Draper, the final instrumental character in the theft of the gold ingots, there is no room for confusion, and the story progresses smoothly. The gradual progression that the author employed in revealing the storyline helped reduce whatever confusion I had due to the complex writing style the writer employed. This book is not science fiction, but the world the author created is not an easy one to read about. It is evident that the author researched every detail he drew inspiration from.
There were many new words and cultural introductions. The book mentioned things and places in Asia that I had no idea about. The author must have known that this book will not be an easy read, so he included a Glossary with links to several words in the story. I was grateful for the links because they took me directly to the meaning of the new words without much interruption to my reading flow.
The only thing I disliked about this book was that it was truly not an easy read, so it took me a while to settle into the story. But by the middle of the story, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and eagerly flipping the pages. The author was too clever in giving Yi an unexpected end. The author also included Historical Notes that showed that he drew his inspiration from actual historical events and people. Despite the time it took for me to appreciate this story, I must say that it is a work of creative genius, so my rating is 4 out of 4. This book is for historical fiction buffs. If you like reading about Asian adventures, this is a book for you. There is the use of profanity and some sexual scenes.
The Abalone Ukulele
View: on Bookshelves