This story, the 6th in our Journey to the West series, marks the end of the first section of the novel, as we wrap up the preliminaries and begin the actual journey. Several threads and key characters from earlier books come together. Taizong, the great emperor of the Tang Dynasty who spent most of Book Five trapped in the underworld, selects the young monk Xuanzang to undertake the journey, after being strongly influenced by the Buddhist teacher Guanyin. Xuanzang (now called Sanzang) sets out on his journey and receives help from Guanyin and from Bright Star of Venus, who previously appeared in Book Two. The Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean, who in Book One was Sun Wukong’s adversary and was forced to give him his Jingu Bang (golden hoop rod weapon), is now Sun Wukong’s old friend and gives him some life-changing advice. And near the end of the book Sanzang’s path crosses that of Sun Wukong himself.
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 HSK-3, 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.
Free audio versions of all books in this series are available on YouTube. Go to www.youtube.com and search for the Imagin8 Press channel to find all of our free audiobooks. Or just click the “Listen Free on YouTube” link on this page, or use the “Download” link to download the audiobook to your computer.