Saints (Boxers & Saints)

by Gene Luen Yang

Paperback, 2013

Status

Available

Call number

Child > Graphic Novel

Publication

First Second (2013), Edition: First Edition, 176 pages

Description

"China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finally finds friendship-- and a name, Vibiana -- in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie-- and whether she is willing to die for her faith" -- front flap.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AnnieMod
The second volume of the series that started in Boxers (or a companion volume of Boxers - it seems like both descriptions would be correct) follows the life of Vibiana - the girl that Bao met twice in his life. A fourth daughter of a Chinese family, she is never given a name - she becomes known as
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Four-girl and does not get much love in her family - being called devil and death (because of the significance of the number 4 in the Chinese beliefs (being born on the fourth day of the fourth month does not help much either) she resolves to become a devil - after all everyone believes her to be one. And why not do that by becoming a Christian - they are the devils, they feed her every time when she go there and she can even sleep while they tell her the old stories - no chores to be done, noone to bother her.

And while she goes towards the religion for all the wrong reasons, she starts seeing Joan of Arc (even if it takes a while for her to understand who she is). And while we are following the story of the little Chinese girl to her new life, we also see the path of Joan from the first meeting with the angels to the final meeting with the fire. The timeline of this novel is the same as the one in Boxers - but for the latter part of he novel it is the other side of the conflict - the refugees that Bao do not kill on the train are showing up in the village where Vibiana is and we see that with her eyes; the church set on fire is not full with the people that we already know. And from the eyes of Vibiana, we can see the reality of the old gods and how much of their transformation was real.

Every war has two sides and this pair of novels demonstrate exactly this in the most heartbreaking way possible. Boxers can be read on its own but Saints rely on the knowledge you have from Boxers and even if it can work on its own, you are better off reading it after Boxers.

The final conflict would always be between Vibiana and Bao and leaves the reader to decide who wins - the one who dies or the one who lives. Because by the time it happens, the world had gone grey - black and white had not just switched a few times but had mingled - because noone is innocent in all this - not the girl that just wanted to belong; not the boy who just wanted his life to be as before.

There are some more details that tie the story of the two protagonists together - Saints is written to add to the tapestry of Boxers. And the two volumes together show a story that the world does not see to be able to learn (and probably will not) - if there is war, there are people caught in it. And what you believe to be true is just part of the story.
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LibraryThing member A_Reader_of_Fictions
Saints is a companion graphic novel to Boxers, which takes on the opposite perspective: that of a secondary devil. This terminology may not be familiar to you, so allow me to explain. A secondary devil is a Chinese person who has converted to Christianity, thus aligning themselves with the foreign
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devils. Saints covers the same time period, but has only one moment with the same scene happening, though it does offer further insight into the events of Boxers just the same. Though they're companions, I do think reading them in this order does work slightly better.

In Boxers & Saints, what Yang really digs into are people's motivations. How does an unassuming Chinese boy grow up to kill his countrymen as a Boxer? Why would a young girl convert to Christianity, rather than sticking to the gods of her country? Yang doesn't set out to teach the reader exactly what happened; there aren't any specific dates or anything like that. Instead, he shows the feelings and the ways of thinking that led to the bloody battles and the hatred. Boxers & Saints are nuanced, subtle and thought-provoking.

The main character of Saints made a brief appearance in Boxers, as the girl young Little Bao wanted to marry when he grew up because her face resembled an opera mask. Four-girl, so called because she was the fourth child to the family and believed to be a devil and to represent death, has no true name and is not beloved of her family. She tries to get them to accept her, but all they see is how she falls short. As a child might, she begins to act out for attention, by making a devil face. Her mother, sick of the comments from others about Four-girl's devil face, takes her to a Doctor, who happens to be a Christian, and he convinces her to stop with the devil face.

When Four-girl learns about the foreign devils, she is thrilled and eager to learn about their religion. Though she doesn't necessarily find the Bible compelling, what she gets from Christianity is the acceptance she's always craved. On top of that, they finally give her a name: Vibiana. Though Vibiana does not entirely understand Christianity or what the stakes are, her new religion is so important to her, because these people, these foreign devils, accepted her where her own family would not. That's why she would put her life on the line rather than renounce her faith.

As I mentioned in my Boxers review, the Boxers would put on the guise of Chinese gods, but, in Saints, you can see that there are actual humans fighting the battles. With this technique, Yang makes it clear that the guises of the gods are metaphorical, the boys so convinced of their victory because they have their gods' approval and support.

Similarly, Vibiana has visitations from Joan of Arc and even Jesus. The one from Jesus is fascinating, as he has the same eye marked on his hands that the old man who gave Bao the method to take on the guise of the gods had. I'm not entirely sure what point Yang is making with this, perhaps that all religion comes from the same source? The reason I bring this up at all when I'm not sure myself is to show how complex Boxers & Saints are and how well they will fuel discussions. I could see them being an excellent classroom resource, a fun, easy read that looks at the Boxer Rebellion, war and religion in an entirely different way than a textbook.

I did personally like Saints slightly less than Boxers. This may be because there's a good deal more text in this one, and it does lean a bit towards YOU ARE LEARNING NOW, as Vibiana is instructed in the ways of Christianity.

Boxers & Saints are best read together back to back, so the reader can fully flesh out the commonalities between the two and look at the many nuances. They're fairly light on text and heavy on character motivations.
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LibraryThing member 4sarad
I liked this book, but I can't help but compare it to the other volume, Boxers. I agree with another reviewer who said this seemed like an afterthought, or a special edition with "deleted scenes" that didn't make it into the final product. I really liked Four-Girl's story and wanted to see more. I
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really think Yang could have added a lot more detail into the story, especially with the Joan story line. At times that got a little confusing, and if you're not familiar with Joan of Arc it might be VERY confusing. I did still like it though!
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LibraryThing member mamzel
In this and the companion book, Boxers, Yang has given us a glimpse into life of turn of the century China as Europeans and Christianity were moving in and meeting resistance. Told from the viewpoint of the fourth (and only surviving daughter), we are shown how Christianity can appeal when life has
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been brutal.

Yang's illustrations are simple but emotions are easy to discern. His style does not interfere with the story but draws the reader in with its comfortable illustrations.

I would recommend these books to fans of graphic novels and historical fiction.
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LibraryThing member WickedWoWestwood
The companion graphic novel to "Boxers", which taught ignorant me about this moment of history called the Boxer Rebellion, wasn't as good as the first. Or maybe my opinions were skewed because book 1 was so much more in depth with Bao's character, that when we see Vibiana's side of the story, as a
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Christian in 1899 China, I'm still reeling from Bao's story. In this shorter side of the tale Vibiana's character doesn't know who she wants to be or what her vocation is. It's another great graphic novel, don't get me wrong, but I feel Gene Yang didn't try as hard to make us like Vibiana. She was quite plain.
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LibraryThing member DeweyEver
Saints is a graphic novel about Vibiana, a young woman on the Christian side of the Boxer Rebellion in China (1899-1900).

As with the companion book, Boxers, the art is simple but expressive. Here, instead of Bao's visions of the Chinese gods, Vibiana has vibrant visions of Joan of Arc. Vibiana
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hopes to emulate Joan as she tries to defend her fellow Christians from the Boxers.

I read this book after Boxers, and I was a little disappointed that this one was so much shorter than the other, but it makes sense considering how the paths of the protagonists in each intersect. I loved seeing the same story presented from both sides of the conflict.
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LibraryThing member fighterofevil
Good read. Look forward to reading the other half, Boxers.
LibraryThing member kivarson
Yang presents the complicated story of Chinese Christians and the earnest foreigners who settled in China to save souls.
LibraryThing member nnschiller
A counter-view of the story told in Boxers. Yang has another triumph here.
LibraryThing member -Eva-
Fourth daughter to a family who doesn't want her, Vibiana believes that she is truly evil and joins the group that everyone calls "devils," the Christians. This is a companion book to the author's book Boxers and describes the Boxer Rebellion from another angle, although it's still from a Chinese
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perspective. Although I was initially a bit confused by Vibiana's visions of Jeanne d'Arc (since Boxers allowed for a metaphoric interpretation of the supernatural aspects and this one didn't), it made sense for that character, considering what happens to her in the end (we find this out in Boxers, although I wish we didn't). Good companion to Boxers, but I wouldn't recommend it on its own.
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LibraryThing member zzshupinga
Even though Boxers & Saints has been published as two separate books, they really do need to be read together to get the complete story. Which is why I’m reviewing both books together.

The year is 1898. The place is China. Once closed off to the rest of the world, foreign missionaries and
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soldiers have taken to roaming the countryside to bully, rob, and convert the Chinese people. There are those that wish to stand up to them, but how? The foreigners have guns and power on their side. And then...Little Bao stands up. He has learned to harness the power of the ancient Chinese gods, and he recruits an army of Boxers - common people trained in Kung Fu, who use the power of the ancient gods to free China from those “foreign devils.” And lo and behold it works! They begin winning violent battles against the foreign soldiers. But there is a cost to their victory. Death. Death of those “foreign devils” and death of Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.
On the other side of the coin of the Boxers...are the Saints. Chinese Christians who want to make a better life for themselves, but are torn between their nation and their faith. One such Saint is an unwanted fourth daughter, Four-Girl, who is never even given a real name by her family. Instead she finds both a name, Vibiana, and a family with a local Christian missionary. She begins having visions of Joan of Arc, who attempts to guide her down the path of righteousness. But the Boxer Rebellion is coming...and Vibiana will soon have to decide whether she will be Chinese or Christian.

Much like in American Born Chinese, Gene Yang weaves two different powerful stories together to create one amazing story. In this collection, each story represents a different side of the coin. On one side you have Little Bao and the past traditions of China and it’s culture. On the other side you have Vibiana and the Chinese Christians, representing a possible future for the country, one that scares many. When the story begins this coin is doing a delicate balancing act, with neither side overwhelming the other. But soon...things begin to tip and sway one way and the other. First the Christian missionaries begin to rob and bully the Chinese around them. And then the coin swivels and the Boxers appear, ready to take back their own land. By the end of the book...well you’ll have to read it to see what happens.

What I like about this collection is that the books work well together to form a history of a time period that many in the Western part of the world are probably not familiar with and it’s written for all ages to understand. Even more so, Gene writes the story so that we understand the horrors committed by both sides of the conflict. Gene takes care to show that while both sides had valid arguments, their methods and ways of getting what they wanted were becoming increasingly violent and splintered as strong people in each group began adding their own meanings to what they saw. While this is likely to make some folks uncomfortable, it is necessary to understand the whole of the conflict. Gene does an excellent job of ensuring that we, as readers, are able to question both sides of the conflict.

Gene brings his typical, wonderful, art style to this collection. His bright, rich colors, strong lines, and shading create characters that leap off the page, especially in the Boxers book. This is in particular noticeable when we see the ancient Chinese gods wearing theatrical costumes as they do battle. It helps make this time period in history come to life a little bit more. What is even more remarkable though about the artwork for these two books is when you contrast Boxers with Saints. Boxers is all about the bright colors. Saints...is more muted. Brown and dust inhabit the pages, except when we see the specters of Joan of Arc who is brightly colored. It presents a very different view of the characters of these two volumes...one that you'll have to read to see.

My one regret about these two books, is that I would have loved to have an afterward, one that gave a bit more information about the influences of creation of the books. But that is neither here nor there. Overall this is an excellent two volume set and I would highly recommend it for all libraries and all ages. I give both books 5 out of 5 stars.

ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond
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LibraryThing member What_Katie_Read
Very intense, like Boxers, but Yang's work is superb, and this is no exception. A really interesting look at the Boxer Rebellion in China--make sure you read both Boxers and Saints.
LibraryThing member sylliu
Two companion books that tell the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China (1899-1900), an anti-imperialism and anti-Christian missionary movement, from opposite sides of the movement.

In Boxer, a foreign priest and his soldiers smash up Little Bao's peasant village. Little Bao learns the ancient
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magic of calling up the ancestor gods and leads a rebellion that eventually reaches Beijing. The story is violent, bloody, and does not have a happy ending.

In Saints, Vibiana is an unwanted and unappreciated girl in a neighboring village who converts to Christianity and finds some purpose in helping the foreign priest and his flock. She joins the fight against the Boxers. The story is violent, bloody, and does not have a happy ending.

Because of the violence, this is probably more suited to older audiences, though my ten year old read it and appreciated it.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
A parallel story and companion volume to Yang's extraordinary Boxers.
LibraryThing member joeydag
I can't wait to read the matching graphic novel "Boxers". This was a moving story about a young girl growing up in late 19th century China. From her alienation from her family she converts to Christianity just before the Boxer rebellion. The artist, Yang, does a wonderful job of conveying
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character, humor, and pathos.
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LibraryThing member rdwhitenack
Not a bad book, but would be very hard to understand without reading the first book, Boxer.
LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Boxers and Saints are two complimentary books that each tell the tale of a young person on one side of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

In Saints, Four-Girl is the fourth daughter, unwanted and unwelcome in her family. She finds acceptance and friendship with a local doctor and his wife, who
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also happen to be Christians. Four-Girl becomes a Christian and is baptized as Vibiana, but it's a dangerous thing to be in a time when the young men of the Boxer Rebellion are seeking to rid the country of Westerners and Western influence. But Vibiana - who has seen visions of Joan of Arc since she was a girl - is not content to be meek, but wants to defend her people against the rebels at any cost.

Review: This is really embarrassing, but before reading these books, the only thing I knew about the Boxer Rebellion was that it was when Spike had killed his first Slayer on Buffy. (In hindsight, my "World History" classes back in high school were really much more European history.) But even though Yang's version has a number of mythic/supernatural/fantasy elements to it, I think it gives a quite clear picture of what the conflict was about, and how it played out, in a way that's more complex and nuanced than you might ordinarily expect from a YA graphic novel. As you're reading each book, you first come to the conclusion that its protagonists are clearly in the right, and that they're being unfairly persecuted… but the lengths that each side is willing to go to in order to do what they think is right makes you less and less sure. Ultimately, we're left feeling like neither side is entirely in the right or in the wrong, but both wind up being changed by their violence, and both ultimately wind up a high cost - no happy endings here. It does wind up feeling very balanced, with no taking of sides - not something I'm used to encountering in my history/war stories.

The two stories are relatively independent but intertwined - Little Bao from Boxers and Vibiana encounter one another briefly in childhood, and then again as adults in the thick of the rebellion - but they really need to be read together in order to get the whole perspective and the whole story. I don't know if there's an official recommended order, but I read Boxers (which is substantially longer) first and Saints second, which worked out well - I think knowing who Little Bao is and what he's doing with the Boxers is more important for understanding Vibiana's story than the reverse. I also liked Boxers's story a bit better, although this likely because it was a longer book, so it was more developed, and there was more action, and essentially more plot to Bao's story than to Vibiana's. I also thought the supernatural elements were better integrated in Boxers than in Saints - it made more sense to me that Bao would be summoning ancient Chinese gods than that Vibiana would be seeing Joan of Arc. But taken together, these books are present an interesting, engaging read that brings up a lot of interesting ethical questions about the nature and cost of war. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: They're pretty violent, so maybe not for younger kids, but I think these books are a really worthwhile read for anyone who wants to learn more about the Boxer Rebellion, or who is interested in a balanced perspective on what war and peace really costs a country and an individual.
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LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Boxers and Saints are two complimentary books that each tell the tale of a young person on one side of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

In Saints, Four-Girl is the fourth daughter, unwanted and unwelcome in her family. She finds acceptance and friendship with a local doctor and his wife, who
Show More
also happen to be Christians. Four-Girl becomes a Christian and is baptized as Vibiana, but it's a dangerous thing to be in a time when the young men of the Boxer Rebellion are seeking to rid the country of Westerners and Western influence. But Vibiana - who has seen visions of Joan of Arc since she was a girl - is not content to be meek, but wants to defend her people against the rebels at any cost.

Review: This is really embarrassing, but before reading these books, the only thing I knew about the Boxer Rebellion was that it was when Spike had killed his first Slayer on Buffy. (In hindsight, my "World History" classes back in high school were really much more European history.) But even though Yang's version has a number of mythic/supernatural/fantasy elements to it, I think it gives a quite clear picture of what the conflict was about, and how it played out, in a way that's more complex and nuanced than you might ordinarily expect from a YA graphic novel. As you're reading each book, you first come to the conclusion that its protagonists are clearly in the right, and that they're being unfairly persecuted… but the lengths that each side is willing to go to in order to do what they think is right makes you less and less sure. Ultimately, we're left feeling like neither side is entirely in the right or in the wrong, but both wind up being changed by their violence, and both ultimately wind up a high cost - no happy endings here. It does wind up feeling very balanced, with no taking of sides - not something I'm used to encountering in my history/war stories.

The two stories are relatively independent but intertwined - Little Bao from Boxers and Vibiana encounter one another briefly in childhood, and then again as adults in the thick of the rebellion - but they really need to be read together in order to get the whole perspective and the whole story. I don't know if there's an official recommended order, but I read Boxers (which is substantially longer) first and Saints second, which worked out well - I think knowing who Little Bao is and what he's doing with the Boxers is more important for understanding Vibiana's story than the reverse. I also liked Boxers's story a bit better, although this likely because it was a longer book, so it was more developed, and there was more action, and essentially more plot to Bao's story than to Vibiana's. I also thought the supernatural elements were better integrated in Boxers than in Saints - it made more sense to me that Bao would be summoning ancient Chinese gods than that Vibiana would be seeing Joan of Arc. But taken together, these books are present an interesting, engaging read that brings up a lot of interesting ethical questions about the nature and cost of war. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: They're pretty violent, so maybe not for younger kids, but I think these books are a really worthwhile read for anyone who wants to learn more about the Boxer Rebellion, or who is interested in a balanced perspective on what war and peace really costs a country and an individual.
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LibraryThing member klburnside
Saints is the companion book to Boxers. It tells of the Boxer rebellion from the perspective of a Chinese Christian. This concept had so much potential. After reading Boxers, where Christians and foreign missionaries came out looking pretty bad, (although the Boxers didn't look so great either) I
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was interested to read the story from a different perspective. There are several scenes that appear in both books, and it seemed like a really interesting concept to see what led the characters to their respective decisions.

Somehow it just didn't really pan out for me. The characters didn't seem that well developed and I ended up thinking both sides were kind of mean and not feeling a lot of compassion for anyone. Maybe because it can be so hard in real life, in my books I like to be able to understand why people do such horrible things to each other and in the end think they are still good at heart.
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LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Vibiana's story is a sad but interesting one. She does not come to the church in the most traditional way or for remotely the right reasons and a lot of the time her behavior is not what you would call Christian. Her conversations with Joan though are incredibly interesting, and I like that Vibiana
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keeps her crazy ways. I like that you get both Vibiana's story and Joan's. The choice to keep everything sepia toned but Joan was a smart one and really makes Joan stand out. I like that you get the full part of Vibiana's death and the true end of Boa's story.
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LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Vibiana's story is a sad but interesting one. She does not come to the church in the most traditional way or for remotely the right reasons and a lot of the time her behavior is not what you would call Christian. Her conversations with Joan though are incredibly interesting, and I like that Vibiana
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keeps her crazy ways. I like that you get both Vibiana's story and Joan's. The choice to keep everything sepia toned but Joan was a smart one and really makes Joan stand out. I like that you get the full part of Vibiana's death and the true end of Boa's story.
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LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Vibiana's story is a sad but interesting one. She does not come to the church in the most traditional way or for remotely the right reasons and a lot of the time her behavior is not what you would call Christian. Her conversations with Joan though are incredibly interesting, and I like that Vibiana
Show More
keeps her crazy ways. I like that you get both Vibiana's story and Joan's. The choice to keep everything sepia toned but Joan was a smart one and really makes Joan stand out. I like that you get the full part of Vibiana's death and the true end of Boa's story.
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LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Vibiana's story is a sad but interesting one. She does not come to the church in the most traditional way or for remotely the right reasons and a lot of the time her behavior is not what you would call Christian. Her conversations with Joan though are incredibly interesting, and I like that Vibiana
Show More
keeps her crazy ways. I like that you get both Vibiana's story and Joan's. The choice to keep everything sepia toned but Joan was a smart one and really makes Joan stand out. I like that you get the full part of Vibiana's death and the true end of Boa's story.
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
The companion to "Boxers." Four-Girl's grandfather calls her out as the Devil after she accidentally beheads a Tu Di Gong statue. Already considered an outcast in her own family, Four-Girl gravitates to Christianity for "devil training," and runs away with Father Bey when he is reassigned. Even
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after baptism, Four-Girl (now Vibiana) still feels rudderless and relies on visions of Joan of Arc to guide her path. Eventually, Vibiana meets Bao from "Boxers" and her destiny is sealed. I am still wrapping my mind around Vibiana's story and what it means; it's not nearly as clear-cut as "Boxers" was. But a good story gets you thinking...
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Saints looks at China's Boxer Rebellion from the perspective of a Christian Chinese girl who was converted by foreign missionaries. Four Girl, whose name sounds like the Chinese word for “death”, was never given a real name by the head of her family. Her conversion to Christianity came with a
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new name chosen from the names of Christian female saints. She has visions of Joan of Arc, who has not yet been canonized as a saint. When the Christians begin to be persecuted by groups like the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, Four Girl (now Vibiana) believes she has been chosen to save others. This volume shows the Christian and western/European misunderstandings and false rumors that are suggested as motivations for the conflict. It also fills in the background for characters and events that are shown only in passing in the companion volume, Boxers. The two volumes should be read together for the complete story.
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Original language

English

Original publication date

2013-09-10

Physical description

176 p.; 6.07 inches

ISBN

1596436891 / 9781596436893
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