Seed of Dragons

Surviving an Empire Undone

Fiction - Adventure
307 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

A lifelong explorer of life's experiences and unending surprises, Billy Ironcrane grew up in inner city Philadelphia during the 1950's and 60's. An era characterized by revolutionary currents of change, protest, activism and idealism. While a teen, he spent summers on the Jersey coast hawking newspapers, tossing burgers and exploring places like Atlantic City where he encountered flea circuses, Gene Krupa hanging between sets at the Steel Pier, petrified mermaids and the fabulously wealthy promenading the boardwalk at night flashing mink stoles, diamonds, tuxes and studded canes. Atlantic City dubbed itself, “The World’s Playground.” All the stuff of dreams as he returned to Mrs. J’s boarding house where he slept for ten bucks a week, sharing space with his grandfather, Polish immigrants working the summer trade and the ever present legion of cats.

He departed the inner city pushing blindly into the unknown never to return. To be static would have been terminal, as it proved to be for many of his mates. In the decades following, he pursued new awarenesses, trekked mountains, explored Zen, became a soldier, raised a family, bridged the corporate jungle, then lived on wits and ingenuity until the muse of the 60's again tapped his shoulder, ordering, "Time to shift gears, Billy."

His stories often re-visit ancient times or reflect on different cultures. From their myths and legends he extracts new reckonings and insights into a modern world where so many of the same challenges seem to have become our norm.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Seed of Dragons: Surviving an Empire Undone is a work of fiction in the action, adventure, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Billy Ironcrane. The book tells two stories: the first is about the coming of age of a boy abandoned in a dangerous world with the future of his people and the second is about a criminal on the run who must accept a new life of focusing purely on survival. The two stories are linked together in their themes of surviving pandemonium in order to achieve independence.

Seed of Dragons felt like an important discussion on the meaning of existence, or more precisely the urgency with which we seek out that meaning. By telling the tales of two characters forced to focus only on what is necessary to survive their immediate situations, author Billy Ironcrane tells us a larger story about finding what is truly essential to you before life forces you to find that focus through adversity. With this style in mind, the tales in this book feel more akin to parables from which we can reflect on our own lives and ask ourselves about the priorities and decisions that have led us to where we are now. Overall, Seed of Dragons paints a vivid picture of a dangerous world and the people at the bottom of the social hierarchy doing what they must in order to survive it. The prose leaps off the page in order to portray its heroes' struggles and the underlying themes of the story make this a book I’d easily recommend to all readers.

Pikasho Deka

Seed of Dragons by Billy Ironcrane follows the stories of two men, Abbot Shi-Hui Ke and Bao Ling, set after the fall of the Han dynasty in China. The book opens up with Abbot Shi-Hui Ke recounting his Master Li Fung's legendary confrontation with the Wei knights to an enraptured Bao Ling. Years before, when Shi-Hui Ke was still but a child, he traveled with Master Li to the town of Fortune's Gateway to trade, only to come across the ruthless Wei soldiers who wanted the subjugation of the Shu Tribes. Master Li enters into a deadly game with the Wei knights upon which rests the future of Shu Mountains. In another story, Bao Ling passes on the secrets of the Dragon Bow he learned from his mentor and older brother Sying Hao to his son, Shen Ling.

Author Billy Ironcrane's fantastical adventure novel is the perfect testament to the resilient spirit of humans and seamlessly demonstrates how ordinary people doing extraordinary things make them the stuff of legends, and over time, those legends become myths. Seed of Dragons is written in a unique narrative style, reminiscent of ancient Chinese folk tales. Through the eyes of two common folk turned legendary martial artists, Ironcrane explores the human condition in a myriad of ways. The author provides a glimpse into the psychology of heroes and tyrants alike and showcases how ordinary men can choose to become either through their actions. As a longtime fan of Kung Fu-inspired fight sequences, the action scenes were an absolute blast to read. Recommend to action-adventure lovers.

Vincent Dublado

Seed of Dragons: Surviving an Empire Undone by Billy Ironcrane is a monumental feat in adventure fiction. This is an epic tale divided into two stories. The first story is about the coming of age of Shi-Hui Ke and how he attained prominence in martial arts and archery. Under the guidance of Master Li Fung, they travel to the town of Fortune’s Gateway where they encounter ruthless Wei soldiers whom Master Li engages in a simple but deadly game to save the Shu tribe from an imminent threat. The second story tells about Bao Ling, a man who is called The Dragon of the Midlands. As an outlaw who is wrongfully accused, he is nurtured in different worlds and strives to hone and polish his skills, as he is dedicated to becoming the final defense against oppression.

Seed of Dragons succeeds in introducing adventure with an oriental flavor to a wider audience. It focuses on themes of individual heroism and triumph against insurmountable odds but Billy Ironcrane gives it a universal appeal despite its Eastern cultural sensibilities. The way the two stories are connected by their common theme makes it not only a brilliant adventure story but also great philosophical fiction. It is a tale about the entanglements, constraints, and duties that are unreasonably imposed and the corresponding response to preserve human dignity and individual identity. Ironcrane’s narrative freely juxtaposes anecdotes, myths, and didacticism in a strong structural coherence. It is easy to recommend this book to all readers for its in-depth characterization, strong plot, and classic appeal.

Stephanie Chapman

Billy Ironcrane’s Seed of Dragons stars two heroes in two individual stories. Each of the stories connects with their adversaries being the Wei soldiers. The introduction to the book explains the period after the fall of the Han Dynasty, where three warring kingdoms fought for the supreme rule of China. Two men are taking refuge in a cave during a winter storm in the first story. The elder, Shi-Hui-Ke, retells his life to his young protégé, Bao Ling. His story begins when he is a junior member of the Shu tribe that the Wei wants to exterminate. He recounts an important challenge Master Li Fung had presented to one of the Wei generals. The second story, The Dragon of the Midlands, features Shen Ling listening to his father, Bao Ling, retell the history of the enchanted Dragon Bow. Bao Ling explains his instructions from Sying Hào to practice on locusts until he never missed a target.

I learned a lot about the oppression the people felt from the Wei soldiers from Seed of Dragons. Billy Ironcrane added references and footnotes that explained mentioned characters that were not featured in the stories. These were especially helpful in understanding the style of fighting that Li Fung employed. After reading the first story, I could answer the question Bao Ling asked about “The Thought Cuts.” Vivid depictions of the scenes and the motivations of every character are prominent features of the book. The exceptionally drawn pictures included in both stories make certain statements stand out. I can say that the stories piqued my interest in learning more about the history of China and the martial art styles of the past. Readers who like historical fiction novels with moral lessons will enjoy Seed of Dragons.

Rabia Tanveer

Seed of Dragons: Surviving an Empire Undone by Billy Ironcrane is a collection of two stories focusing on the lives of two heroic men who face terrible adversaries and come out victorious. In the first book, Master Li confronts Abbot Shi-Hui Ke, and Bao Ling takes a little break from their upward trek to rejuvenate. While doing so, the Abbot tells Bao a tale of his youth. The young Abbot joined the tribal elders and Master Li on a trip to the market when a meeting with a Wei soldier resulted in a competition of wits, strength, and stamina. In the second book, The Dragon of the Midlands, Bao Ling shares the secrets of the Dragon Bow with his son Shen Ling. In doing so, Bao reveals how his brother Sying Hao changed his life and helped him to reshape it for the better.

On the surface, both the stories in this collection talk about survival and facing an adversary when you least expect it. However, in doing so, author Billy Ironcrane teaches a valuable lesson to his readers. Abbot Shi-Hui Ke and Bao Ling focus on what is truly important in life as they faced the challenges that forced them to make decisions neither of them was ready for. In true Billy Ironcrane fashion, the narrative reads more like a Chinese folktale than anything else. The descriptions are exceptional. The vivid imagery makes it easy for readers to picture what is happening at any given time. Every single thing is so detailed that you can even picture every kung fu move the characters make. In reality, the narrative is more of a commentary on human behavior and mannerisms than anything else. Billy Ironcrane proves that anyone can be a hero if they want to be. Reading these stories is a full sensory experience that you love until the end.