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Friday, November 10, 2017


Posted by R. Ann Siracusa

Because the Great Wall of China plays both physical and metaphorical roles in my soon-to-be-released novel Destruction Of The Great Wall  (third novel in the romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinaire), I want to share some information about this historic site and an excerpt from the novel.

In my novel, the heroine, Harriet Ruby, is the catalyst that helps destroy the metaphorical "great wall" blocking the hero's emotions and part of his memory from his consciousness. She also does some physical damage to the physical wall with an assault rifle.

But it wasn't her fault. Really!
A myth is widely held but false belief or idea.

Myth 1: The Great Wall is 13,000 Miles Long
The Great Wall of China does stretch across northern China, but the idea that it is one unbroken wall is incorrect. Segments of walls were built by different rulers at different periods of time in Chinese history. Under different dynasties, some of the preexisting walls were connected. Others weren't built because the natural terrain made them unnecessary.

The first part of the wall was built in the 7th century BC by King Xuan of the Western Zhou dynasty, the second from part 475 to 221 BC. Those two segments were connected by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect the territory of the Qin dynasty from invasion by nomads from the north.

The wall that we see today dates from the Ming Dynasty (1600s), because they rebuilt much of the wall in stone and brick rather than rammed earth. The fortification currently extends 5,500 miles, although still in segments.

Myth 2: The Great Wall Can Be Seen From The Moon
The best know myth is that the great wall can be seen with the naked eye from the moon. Could that be true? NASA says, "no." The wall is an average of 30 feet wide. According to calculations, it would have to be 70 miles wide to be seen by the naked eye from the moon, and then only under certain conditions.

There are varying stories about how the rumor got started going as far back as William Stukeley in 1754, all the way to Halliburton's 1938 Second Book of Marvels.The claims that it can be seen from "outer space" may or may not be true. It depends on how far from the earth one is talking about and still be in what is considered "outer space."

China's first astronaut Yang Liwei, said he didn't see the wall during an orbit of less than 24 hours in October, 2003 but there are many structures which can also be seen, such as the Pyramids in Egypt if the atmospheric conditions in outer space [defined as about 350 kilometers in altitude] and perfect and the observer is in exactly the right spot at the right time.

The first photographic evidence of sections of the wall from outer space were taken by Chinese American astronaut Leroy Chiao from the International Space Station [at 360 kilometers] in 2005.

A legend is a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.

Legend 1: The Legend Of Meng Jiangn├╝
This legend of love and devotions tells of a young man of the Qin dynasty named Liang Fanqi who was sent by the Emperor to work on the great wall

He escaped, ran, and hid in a private garden. There he met the property owner's daughter, Meng Jiangn├╝. They fell in love and married, apparently never leaving Meng's house. Eventually, the Emperor's guard found Liang Fanqui, captured him, and sent him back to work on the construction.

The young bride waited day after day for him to return until winter came. Resigned, she made some warm clothes to take to her husband. When she arrived at the construction site and couldn't find Liang Fanqi, she was told he had died and his body was built into the Great Wall.

 Another version tells that the angry Emperor of Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 206 B.C.) came to survey the damage done to his project. But when he saw Meng Jiang, the cause of the damage, he was enchanted by her beauty and wanted to marry her.

Meng Jiang said she would only marry him on three conditions - first, her former husband was to be given a grand burial; second, the emperor and his court must go into mourning for Xiliang; and third, she wanted to visit the ocean. Much as the emperor hated the idea of officially mourning a commoner, he agreed so he could gain this rare beauty.

After Meng Jiang got her third wish, she scolded the Emperor bitterly and cast herself into the ocean. The Emperor sent his men to dredge the ocean but the waves chased them away. It so happened that the Dragon King of the Sea and his daughter the Dragon Princess felt sympathy for Meng Jiang and spirited her away to their underwater Dragon Palace. Then they commanded their army of shrimps and crabs to raise a storm, repelling the Emperor's men.

Neither version is exactly a Cinderella story. Operas and plays are based on this legend throughout China. There are many temples built in her memory, including the one at Shanhai Pass, which is still in good condition.

Legend 2: "Metal Soup" Great Wall
This story tells of the construction of the Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall on the outskirts of Beijing. The name means Yellow Flower fortress because in the summer these hills are covered by yellow flowers.  
During the Ming Dynasty, a general name Cai Kai was ordered by the emperor to build this section of the wall. General Cai Kai was meticulous regarding quality control and expenditures and it took years of hard labor to complete the section.

When the Ministry of War heard of the cost to build the Huanghuacheng section, they beheaded Cai Kai. Soon after, the emperor realized that this portion of the wall was exceptionally solid and steep, and knew he had wronged Cai Kai. He later built a tomb to commemorate the General's great contribution and had someone engrave Jintang (Metal Soup) into a rock to describe the strength of this part of the wall. So, today the Huanghuacheng wall is also referred to as "Metal Soup" Great Wall.

Legend 3: The Story Of Jiayuguan Pass
The story goes that Yi Kaizhan, a workman who was proficient in arithmetic, calculated that it would take 99,999 bricks to build the Jiayuguan Pass. His supervisors told him that if his calculation was wrong he, along with other workmen, would be punished for three years.

After the construction, it was found that the one brick lay unused behind the Xiwong City gate. When asked, Yi Kaizhan said that the brick was kept there by supernatural force and, if removed, would result in the collapse of the wall. The brick was never moved and it can still be found at the exact same spot!

This the third book of the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series. Published by Desert Breeze Publishing, it is due to be released in January, 2018.

I'm Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. At last, one of my fondest wishes has come true! Will Talbot, my favorite Super Spy and the love of my life, wants to include me in his covert mission to recover a list of double agents for the US government.
Wow! Usually, I want to know everything, and he can't tell me anything. Now, I'll be part of the action. I am so-o going to love this!

Not that I have a big role. I only have to pretend we're husband and wife when he accompanies me on my China tour. The tour group members are strangers we'll never see again, and we can spend three intimate weeks together. I mean, how hard can that be?
Surprise, surprise! My parents show up on the tour as replacements for some cancellations. Now, we have to lie and tell them we're married to protect Will's cover. Other problems erupt when someone tries to kill me and terrorists kidnap me and my mother to lure Will into a trap. Not to mention the damage my assault rifle does to the Great Wall...
Oh, man. It wasn't my fault. Really!

Will fired a six-shot burst and yelled over his shoulder. “Get down!”
He dropped prone into the tall grass and out of sight. There was no other cover here — nowhere else to go.
I dove onto my stomach after him, but not before I took a heavy painful blow to the chest.
“Aii!” My body slammed into the ground hard enough to knock the wind out of me. The soft wet earth sent splatters of mud across my goggles. With all the air whooshed out of my lungs, I couldn’t breathe and lay there gasping for oxygen. I couldn’t think.
Three projectiles whizzed past my head in rapid succession.
Ohmigod! Time to get out of here. Vision impaired, I scrambled in the direction I thought Will had gone. My elbows and knees dug into the ground, dragging my body on my stomach through the wet grass, my automatic weapon clutched in both hands in front of me.
Zing. This was no fun at all. Where was he?
My heart pounded against my ribcage. Sharp pain stabbed through me with each breath. My aching hands knotted around my rifle. Black dots cavorted in front of my eyes and everything had fuzzy edges. I sucked in a big gulp of air ― along with it a small bug.
“Aah-ugh!” I tried to spit it out but already the critter fluttered its wings in my throat. Coughing, I buried my face against my arm to muffle the sound. Before I could stop hacking, a hand grasped my ankle and pulled me into a pit behind a bunker.
“Eek!” I smashed down on top of a warm body. A A nice hard, well-muscled body. One I recognized by feel and scent. “You did that on purpose.”
“Shh.” Will waited long enough for both of us to relish our position, then rolled me off onto my rear end.
I pulled away and sat up, then collapsed with my back against the dirt wall of the ditch. He studied me for a long moment ― although I couldn’t see his expression through the protective gear ― then pulled some sort of spy instrument out of his backpack and fiddled.
Will crouched behind the bunker, peering into the tool, which now looked like a small periscope. He whipped around.
“You’ve been hit.” His tight voice conveyed alarm.
Jeez, did he need to lighten up, or what?
I threw down my automatic Spyder MR2, pulled off my facemask and helmet, sent them rattling to the ground beside the weapon, and then stared down at the damp red stain on the front of my shirt.
“Right. And it hurts like the devil.”□

Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue with a Novel by

1 comment:

jean hart stewart said...

Enticing excerpt, Ann. Of course I always devour the fascinating history you provide in your texts.....

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