This historical fiction is based on the true story of Li Shimin (also known as Tang Taizong), the greatest sovereign in Chinese history. About 30 years younger than Muhammad, he grew up in a world of devastating upheaval that tore China asunder and was thrust into the role of a military commander in his father’s rebel army while still a teenager. In the process of vanquishing his enemies on the battlefield, he proved himself to be a great military genius. As emperor he encouraged critical suggestions by his court officials, which he often adopted, and lent support to the religions of his day, notably, Buddhism, Daoism, and Christianity. The international prestige he had won for Tang China was so high that the states of Central and North Asia honored him with the title of “Heavenly Khan.” Although his father founded the dynasty, it was his reign that laid the groundwork for a brilliant empire that was to endure for centuries.
Victor Cunrui Xiong is a professor of history at Western Michigan University. His previous publications include three monographs on premodern China, and an encyclopedia on medieval China (3nd–10th centuries CE), as well as numerous scholarly articles mainly focusing on the Sui-Tang period. His annotated translation of the Shitong (A Thorough Exploration in Historiography), the masterpiece by the 8th-century historian Liu Zhiji, will be published in the not so distant future.
An engrossing fictionalized history that examines an ingenious and powerful Chinese ruler.
Heavenly Khan is a wonderful book . . . I believe the novel can be read with profit by undergraduates and the general public. It merits a wide notice. A fine film can be based on it.
--Lewis Pyenson, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada;
Professor of History, Western Michigan University
A new historical legend to stand alongside Alexander the Great and Napoleon...Well-written and decently plotted... Filled with political scandals, court struggles, epic battles, and narrative drama, there is something here for readers of any genre...Heavenly Khan is an epic story of a legendary figure.
--San Francisco Book Review
A deftly written and truly riveting work from beginning to end, "Heavenly Khan: A Biography of Emperor Tang Taizong" is an extraordinary and solidly entertaining story that reveals author Victor Cunrui Xiong to be a exceptional and impressive novelist of the first order. Highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Historical Fiction collections, "Heavenly Khan" is one of those literary works that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf.
--Midwest Book Review
The book is at its best in its explanation of the "enlightened sovereign" and the "rule by benevolence." ..."Heavenly Khan" by Victor Cunrui Xiong succeeds in bringing these concepts to life, through the examples of Li Yuan and Li Shimin.
Heavenly Khan is definitely a must read for readers everywhere. Overall, I highly recommend this historical novel to readers worldwide.
Urban Book Reviews
Foreword for Chinese Edition (in English)