Read The Chinese Spymaster by Hock G. Tjoa Online


Chinese Intelligence uncovers a North Korean trying to sell a nuclear device. Then they find five other dealers trying to do the same. The buyer is the same in every case--the Pashtuns. Is this a "Pashtun Spring"? A realignment of geopolitical power in Central Asia? A resurgence of Islamist terrorism? In order to anticipate and confront these threats, Spymaster Wang must nChinese Intelligence uncovers a North Korean trying to sell a nuclear device. Then they find five other dealers trying to do the same. The buyer is the same in every case--the Pashtuns. Is this a "Pashtun Spring"? A realignment of geopolitical power in Central Asia? A resurgence of Islamist terrorism? In order to anticipate and confront these threats, Spymaster Wang must negotiate through bureaucratic rivalries, as well as personal ambitions, at home and abroad. He reaches for ancient insight into strategies and unorthodox alliances. But the struggle he must undertake cannot cease, and the outcome always remains in doubt. The Spymaster must also confront a vendetta within the Party as well as the determination of his Old Friends and their wives to make him a "match." COMMENTS FROM EARLY READERS: “… the rare feat of a convincing description of hand to hand combat together with a very skillful development of plot and background.” A. G. Chaudri. “This is fascinating, a true Smiley for current times and troubles, with the added, exotic allure to Western readers of the mystique that is China. It has all the hallmarks of a literary thriller.” Kay Christine Fenton. “A complex story … so vivid, lifelike and realistic.” Charles Knightley, Author....

Title : The Chinese Spymaster
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781492791522
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 220 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Chinese Spymaster Reviews

  • Katherine Holmes
    2019-01-25 20:43

    The Chinese Spymaster fascinated and absorbed from the first. In discovering a nuclear device sale, the spymaster Wang begins with threads to the Pashtun region. His characterization and those of the rural Pashtuns being paid to become transmitters reveal networks besides human nature. Wang is very tongue-in-cheek while he also tries to find out why his partner in martial arts exercises attempts to kill him. That counterplot develops to the final chapters. The Chinese intelligence agency operates as peacekeeper however the personalities that are given the classified information respond in ways that drive the tension in the book. Scenes in London with their spy mistress portray the problems of international obligation. Wang disguises himself as a schoolteacher and the other Chinese agents are treated visually during their undercover appearances at London restaurants. Meanwhile, the strategies in the Pashtun region show the difficulty of sorting personal relationships from political ones. Most of the book feels very convincing while it doesn’t aim for action or even resolution. The author renders relationships and he shows how, although the professional spies are always prepared, an event where Wang’s analyst, disguised as a geisha and attacked, comes off as an unfortunate fluke. I was impressed with this book because of its adherence to the idea of intelligence. The book is about that, the gathering of information about possible pressure points to bring in the appropriate government officials. Yet it concentrates on character and that pushes the plot rather than violent action.

  • Stevan Nikolic
    2019-02-13 13:52

    Writing a spy story is always much harder than any other type of “who-done-it” thriller or mystery novel. In order for a spy story to be believable, the characters and the plot have to be built on a background that is based on accurate geo-political, social, and historical references. It takes much research in the world of the “real spy masters” in order to create authentic characters and a plot that is exciting and that makes sense at the same time. It is probably not a coincidence that most of the famous authors in this genre had, at some point in their lives, professional experiences in the intelligence field.When I was in my early twenties, I was a real “spy fiction fan” and I probably read most of the classics in this genre. Reading “The Chinese Spymaster” by Hock G. Tjoa brought back the joy that I felt in my youth. This book has all the earmarks of the true spy thriller. It is a page-turner destined to become a bestseller, and I would be really surprised if it doesn’t.The writing style, the flow of the story, introduction and development of the complex characters, intense and multilayered plot with exciting twists and turns, original setting of the story - everything about this novel is a compliment to a wordsmith’s craft.Because of the nature and the volume of the Indie publishing, it is not very often to come across a book that is perfect by all publishing standards and written by an independent author. “The Chinese Spymaster” by Hock G. Tjoa is one of those books and it is with real pleasure that I recommend it to the readers.

  • Barbara Land
    2019-02-03 13:54

    The Chinese Spymaster, by Hock G. Tjoa, tells the story of how the Chinese intelligence service responds to information it receives regarding the Pashtuns, a marginalized group of people living in a mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are attempting to acquire a nuclear weapon to be used in a bid for independence. What motivated the Chinese to act and the partners they chose to interact with were fascinating to read in light of China’s emerging global presence.This meticulously researched book felt more academic than fictional, but I can well appreciate the author’s efforts to create what appears to be an “insider’s view” of the workings of the Chinese intelligence community.

  • Richard
    2019-01-30 16:50

    In The Chinese Spymaster, we follow the Chinese Intelligence agent Wang (the Spymaster) in his diplomatic negotiations triggered by possible nuclear weapons deals. This first insight takes me to my first comment about the book, which is: although the title leads us (or at least led me) to think that it will be about intelligence and espionage, I had the impression that it is mainly about diplomacy. Throughout the story, we see Spymaster Wang in contact with various government agents from China and allied countries and the narration frequently highlights how the Spymaster must play his cards carefully.The main weakness of the book is, in my opinion, also its main strength. The book is too descriptive for most of the time. On the one hand, it shows that the author really knows what he's talking about and did a very good research on the facts (at least I had this impression). On the other hand, sometimes you get lost with so much information and this prevents the plot from really gripping you. For example, on numerous occasions, the narrator gives the reader background information that goes back to the Chinese revolution. Even though those insights were very interesting, they were hardly necessary for the story. The (in my opinion) excessive amount of information about scenarios, diplomatic circumstances and historic background is not followed by a careful description of what the characters are thinking or feeling. This made me feel very distant from the main character Wang and, of course, the rest of the characters. And if you don't feel close to the characters, you don't really care what's going to happen with them.The book is very well written and I don't remember seeing any grammatical errors. If there was any error, it was so minor as to be imperceptible. On the overall, I would recommend this book for those who like stories related to diplomacy and international conflicts. Since the book provides a lot of information about the Chinese government structure - and since the author seems to have Chinese ascendancy - I would also recommend the book for those who are looking for a deeper look on China and its culture.In summary, I would give The Chinese Spymaster 3.5 stars. But since this isn't possible (and since I feel that four stars would be fairer), I will round it up and give four stars.

  • T.S. O'Neil
    2019-02-19 12:58

    Reminiscent of the works of John Le Carré;The Chinese Spymaster; the book starts out interesting enough, with a sparing match between the protagonist, an older Chinese Military Intelligence officer and the best martial artist in the unit. One thing that I find intriguing is that the perspective is different and novel; in that the point of view is of intelligence officials in the Chinese Military. It's an unfamiliar perspective and that did garner my interest, but the novelty of that eventually faded a bit. The Spymaster becomes aware of a plot to buy a nuclear device to use as leverage to secure the autonomy of Pushtan; a mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This concerns them because it may enflame similar ethnic tensions in China. There is a flashback in the middle of the book that strains readability as it's a backstory that could have been better integrated into the book through lesser means. The plot unfolds slowly and so many characters are introduced that it leads to some confusion. It's a genre I enjoy, but I found the pace to be lacking, as there are lot and lots of meetings, between the various interested parties; the Brits and Americans, among them, but not a lot of action. It's more a chess match than a rollicking bar brawl of a novel. The female characters are a study in a politically correct stereotyping; martial arts expert and deadly with a weapon, but pretty, caring and feminine at the same time. Once scene he describes is notably for its similarity to one of the fight scenes in Kill Bill. Another fight scene seems Ninja like in how it's choreographed, but it's doubtful in my mind that a tactical military raid would be conducted in such a manner, however, it did serve as a necessary plot device. The historical information and back stories seem accurate and/ or inspired by actual events and I found it to be an enjoyable read, but not overly so. It's a decent book, but never really took off for me. The author's style reminiscent of the works of John Le Carré; most notably, Smiley's People, and for that it deserves a look.

  • Rubin Johnson
    2019-01-21 19:35

    The world's second oldest profession, espionage, has a rich literature. Le Carre made the Cold War come alive for me as I read about George Smiley. Alan Furst evoked a long ago Europe and a wonderful Paris. Then there was Ken Follett, perhaps less intellectual and literary, who added more action sequences. Having read authors who have honed their craft over creates a high bar for new authors and stories in this realm.In The Chinese Spymaster, the author Hock Tjoa creates a character Spymaster Wang who runs an enlightened organization providing useful intelligence to modern China. Without Wang's wisdom and insightful nature, not only will world peace be further from our reach but there may also be the possibility of a nuclear armed Pashtun tribe ready to assert its demand for nationhood.There are internal politics and intrigue that provide a very low level of tension. Even though this conflict conceivably had life-or-death consequences, the danger never seemed real, nor the rationale credible. For me, this was my biggest disappointment in a fairly well-written solid story.Perhaps some of the characters were too brave, and a few too easily swayed, but they still conveyed some notion of pawns in a much larger global game of intrigue.The scenes were not described so well as to put me there as Furst can transport me to Paris but that didn't seem to be this author's intent.One major plot line was perhaps resolved too early. It was also difficult to discern the motivations of those who were not wise or forward looking. The bad guys always seemed too short-sighted.What I perhaps liked most were some of the themes explored about global power from a Chinese perspective, especially as it involves central Asia. These are important issues. The pace and structure of the novel was at times confusing but overall, it worked. The action scenes were vivid and lively.I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

  • Ronesa Aveela
    2019-02-17 18:53

    The Chinese Spymaster has the feel of the former TV series “24,” with the clock ticking while governments attempt to thwart the Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan from purchasing nuclear weapons. The focus of the book is primarily from the perspective of the Chinese. It delves into their fear of what will happen to their own country if the Pashtuns are successful.The story is an intriguing look into political concerns, the Butterfly Effect, about how the actions of one nation can affect what might occur in others. It shows nations working to thwart the Pashtuns from achieving autonomy, not because the other nations care what the Pashtuns do, but because the formation of this new territory may cause other groups within their own countries to want the same thing.Although the plotline reminds me of “24,” it takes place over a longer period of time. However, unlike “24,” this book moves along at a much slower pace, mainly due to the fact that much of it is written in a telling manner. This is not necessarily bad. I enjoy a story that slowly unwinds, as long as I am learning something in the process, as I do with this book. “Telling” is a way to get information quickly to the reader without long bouts of dialog and drawn-out scenes. Its downside is that it's less personal and distances the reader from the scene and characters. In this respect, I didn’t gain a closeness to the characters. It felt more journalistic, which again, is not a bad thing.The one thing that slowed the story in a negative way was the author often repeated information from the viewpoint of the different agencies involved in tracking the sales of the nuclear devices. But in all I think it will be a book those who like to read about the politics of nations will enjoy.I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • C.H. Lowe
    2019-01-27 12:29

    I really enjoyed reading Hock’s latest novel. As far as traditional spy fiction goes, this story certainly surprised me. It is full of espionage, politics and action packed. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment. We first meet Spymaster Wang and Major Li who are engaged in ‘a ballet of combat’. Straight away our interest is aroused by the real possibility that Li might have to injure Wang. This however, is not the main plot. There is intelligence that suggests plans to create a new state from lands either side of the Pakistan and Afghan border. The tribes who want to see this happen are called the Pashtuns and are mountain folk. This ramshackle group of villagers will unite, under a potent talisman that will disrupt the equilibrium of power, and forever alter the political landscape of the region. It is the duty of Wang and his two, very capable deputies to analyse and neutralise this threat. I particularly like Hock’s ability to take into account the effect this has on the international community, whilst still focusing so minutely on the Chinese operation. I got a great sense of Character, in Hock’s main protagonist. He provides a lot of information on Chinese political and economic institutions, their political Heads and how they work together to protect Chinese interests. These figureheads will effect the outcome of his plans. This makes his setting of Beijing rich and intriguing. As we progress through the story, we get a glimpse of how things get done in the East.Hock’s humour is great. One example is when he compares dealing arms with one’s own country, to the dangers of teaching a family member to drive. In context, his wit is sharp. It also helps build a powerful and memorable cast of characters.The Chinese Spymaster is a must read.

  • Judy Goodwin
    2019-02-07 19:38

    I would rate this at 3.5 (I really wish there were such things as half star ratings). This was a well written novel that would appeal to readers who love political intrigue and the more academic side of espionage. I would not categorize this as a thriller novel, as there was very little tension and almost no action "on screen". This book would also appeal to those interested in Chinese culture and how other nations view the troubles in Afghanistan including terrorism and nuclear devices.Unfortunately I found myself skimming large sections of prose where there was a lot of stiff dialogue and exposition. The formal language pushed me away and didn't allow me to get close to the characters. I didn't find Spymaster Wang very interesting, and didn't have much vested in wanting him to succeed. The best parts of this book for me were the scenes from the point of view of the Pashtun merchant living in Afghanistan with the constant danger of having either himself or his family killed by various groups. If the entire book had been written from this viewpoint, that to me would have cemented my interest. Those scenes were more vivid and I felt the risk. The rest of the book was too esoteric for me to connect with. I also had some issues with the lack of a real climatic scene, although there were some heartfelt moments between Wang and his sometimes rival. In the end, this to me is a book more designed to educate than entertain. I do hope the writer continues to pursue his focus on Central Asia because I think many of us in the English-speaking world would benefit from this viewpoint. I just think it needs to be a little more accessible to the average reader.

  • Tamara! aka Amy G. Dala
    2019-02-16 17:38

    This was not a fast read for me. I have been working on it and savoring it. Being unfamiliar with many of the locales, this meant a bit of research while I read so I could get a feel for where as well as why. Spanning different countries and cultures as well as decades, I found myself immersed in a world of governments, spies and natives all vying for power, control and/or freedoms. Men using weapons as accoutrements, women's lives in the hands of male family members and nuclear weapons the scariest back up plan for the struggle to live, I found the brutal honesty of how far the 'poor' and the major powers are willing to go quite the eye opener. Finding threats in all sorts of small, out of the way places and the diligence to keep at it for so many years was a wonderment of dedication. The Spymaster faces constant threats from every direction. The life he lives semi-outside of his work is just as intriguing, with him navigating friends, middle age and matchmaking. It wasn't all serious, there was subtle humor interspersed along the way, proving that everyone involved is still human. How he tries to see all sides before leaping to conclusions both in and out of work shows him to be the epitome of diplomacy. One of many favorite quotes:"The actors in this drama may not be aware that their actions do threaten us, so it would be inaccurate to call them our enemies," replies Wang.

  • Jo Sparkes
    2019-02-18 14:44

    Told from the Chinese perspective, this is the story of a plot by the Pashtuns (an ethnic group in Afghanistan/Pakistan composed of some sixty tribes) to acquire a nuclear device from one of six possible sources. The information comes into the hands of Chinese Spymaster Wang. Realizing this might pose serious problems for China, even if his country is not the actual target, the Spymaster takes an unorthodox decision in realizing two of those six avenues can be taken on by his own people – and four others are best addressed by other countries. His challenge is getting those other countries involved.I found this a very interesting book. The author was born to Chinese parents and taught Asian political thought, which was well-reflected in his story. The unique perspectives, and indeed facts presented kept me intrigued, as I am used to a much more ‘Americanized’ view of China and the Middle East. I really learned something here. The characters did keep my interest. My only difficulty was his portrayal of Martial Artists ‘cartwheeling’ to their targets.Understand, this is not a fast-paced, edge of your seat thriller. The story is often told through conversations, and rarely do we feel our characters in any sort of danger. But if a more thoughtful story appeals, especially one that may broaden your understanding of that part of the world, this is a good intellectual read.

  • E.G. Manetti
    2019-02-16 16:29

    I received this book in exchange for an honest review.The Chinese Spymaster has a creative premise, the maneuverings of the Chinese Intelligence service in response to a threat that an ethnic group in Central Asia will acquire a nuclear device in an attempt to establish an independent state. As with all good espionage thrillers, the story moves among a variety of international locations including China, the United Kingdom and Central Asia. Intertwined with the main story line are subplots related to political maneuverings in the Chinese Government, corrupt mullahs, and matchmaking friends.For all its pluses, the novel is hampered by the frequent use of flashbacks that occasionally confuse the narrative flow and a clinical narrative style. The occasional action sequences are oddly cool and ‘bloodless’ despite the body count. The emotional response of the characters is muted or absent. For example, when Spymaster Wang learns his sparring partner wants to assassinate him there is no sense of an emotional response as the character mentally sets up a mental ‘to do list.’All in all, the premise and interrelated plot lines are interesting, well-constructed and researched, but the detached narrative style fails to fully engage the reader

  • Alison Cubitt
    2019-02-06 14:46

    There is a huge amount of research and scholarship that has gone into this book, from an author who clearly knows his stuff.There is great potential here for a page turning thriller, only at the moment, the geo-political research and knowledge of the author weigh too heavily on the story. At the moment the book sits at the literary thriller end of the market, which may well be your intention, but there is potential here to market to a much bigger readership if we could only see inside the heads of the characters' a little more to find out what makes them tick. This would come at the expense of removing some of the exposition, which impedes, rather than enhances the progress of the story. Although this might be a facetious way of putting it, it reminds me of the movie version of Amadeus, where Emperor Joseph II tells Mozart, 'there are simply too many notes. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.' There is a lot you could do without the help of a commercial fiction editor, such as adding end of chapter hooks, showing rather than telling, but sometimes the input of a third party can do wonders. I think once you'd done the necessary rewrites, that you'd have a winner on your hands.

  • Jake Thompson
    2019-02-12 20:34

    In "The Chinese Spymaster," a variety of international arms dealers try and sell nuclear weapons to the Pashtuns. (Who are the Pashtuns? Think of the 1985 National Geographic cover girl with the bright green eyes). The Pashtun tribes want a nuclear warhead, because they think that they can use it as a threat to successfully secede from Pakistan and Afghanistan. The unification of scattered tribes via a powerful "Talisman," aka a nuclear warhead, is an interesting idea.One subplot that I truly enjoyed was the one that focused on Kong, Jiang and Wang. This particular subplot became very endearing once you got to the heart of the matter and realized the source of Jiang's rage towards Wang.I am fascinated by China and love its culture, and I must say that this book is very illuminating.On a final note, "The Chinese Spymaster" is one of the most engaging books that I've read in quite a while. It has left me with a lot of food for thought. I am impressed by the author's intellect and in the near future I intend on perusing some of his other works.

  • K.
    2019-02-05 18:37

    As a first time reader of Hock Tjoa, I was very pleased with The Chinese Spymaster. I feel that this novel is a great and perfect for those of us who love suspense stories. The characters were well developed and the plot was well executed. Also, you can tell that Tjoa did his research on the inner workings and procedures of the different intelligence agencies as well as the political climates of the different geographical locations mentioned in the book.I appreciate that this novel isn't littered with action scene after scene. Instead, they are placed and written skillfully. I found myself kind of rooting for the Pashtuns to get their independence, but at the same time like Spymaster Wang and his team, I didn't want them to earn it through acquiring and using the nuclear devices. I love that Tjoa did a great job of sprinkling of mini conflicts throughout the story so that the whole isn't solely just about trying to prevent the Pashtuns from setting off a domino affect. I definitely recommend this book.

  • Christoph Fischer
    2019-01-22 16:58

    "The Chinese Spymaster" by Hock G. Tjoa is a fascinating and intelligent political spy novel set (mainly) in Asia. The story begins with the potential of a nuclear thread coming from the Pashtuns, a tribe divided by the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, that might destabilize the current power balance.Spy master Wang plays a political chess game to prevent damage and keep the peace. Geographically and politically the book is incredibly insightful and I liked that the author chose a Chinese perspective for this story, rather than a Western or American. There are some great martial arts scenes and descriptions in the book, influences from the past and some accomplished manipulation. The pacing maybe slow at times for those who like a non stop action read but that doesn't take anything away from the continuous and underlying suspense. A thriller worth your time.

  • Nicolas Wilson
    2019-02-04 20:57

    This is the first novel of Hock Tjoa's that I've read, although I read a play adaptation of his, several months back. I enjoy the perspective in his writing, although the dryness of his tone is less engaging to me. But the complex story set out in The Chinese Spymaster is intriguing, and the tone does work, for the most part, to emphasize the nature of it. I would have liked to see a hair more warmth and subtlety to the characters, but the story itself is an interesting read, with thorough examinations of central Asian politics tied into the development of the plot. It's an interesting counterpoint to the Cold War-mired thrillers that are still pretty ubiquitous nowadays. It's a heavy read, but well worth it.I received a free copy, in exchange for my honest review.

  • Gloria Ng
    2019-01-23 20:43

    Not my usual genre of choice to read. However, I really liked the action-packed fight scenes, the quick sketch of background that gave you depth to each character significant to the story. The book took you places in the East, West and Middle East. So if you are into international spy stuff, the intrigue in this book will keep you guessing.If you are't into spy stuff usually (like yours truly), then it will take you some time to map things out--since there are some twists and turns in the story that will ultimately make sense in the end. Overall, I found it quite entertaining and learned a thing or two about different cultures. The author has a nice way of painting these descriptions and landing it in succinct and sometimes humorous ways. Definitely an enjoyable read.

  • Anne Carlisle
    2019-01-30 13:44

    Hock Tjoa's suspenseful spy book has it all. The novel opens in the midst of a thrilling martial arts contest with a hidden agenda. The characters are swiftly delineated through dialogue, and they include a female "M." The plot hinges on international arms dealing and in particular defeating the sale of a nuclear device. The action is fast, but along the way we are given enjoyable glimpses of locales like London and we learn about Chinese culture and politics. Highly recommended for readers who like substance with their spy novel fix.

  • Rebecca Larsen
    2019-01-25 12:53

    My Review 4 staran intriguing adventure into the life of a Chinese Spymaster. Travel along on his journey to verify and stop the sale of a nuclear weapon to the Pashtuns. This story delves into what may be needed to detect and prevent drastic changes for any nation. This is a highly realistic story, with great character interaction and an exciting plot. I was amazed at the depth of information that the author found during his research for this story. I look forward to reading more works from Mr. Tjoa.

  • Emma Jaye
    2019-02-13 12:37

    Political intrigue rather than what I would consider a thriller. This is a weighty read, and hats off to the author for the amount of effort and research it much have taken to craft this story. I found the writing style somewhat clinical and stiff, which made it somewhat difficult to become invested in the characters, but this is a worthwhile read, particularly for the alternative political viewpoint from that standard western one which is so prevalent in modern media.

  • Judi Moore
    2019-01-31 17:39

    The author provided me with an e-file of this book in exchange for an honest review.I enjoyed this book a lot. I like to learn New Stuff when I read fiction and, for me, this book contained plenty of fascinating, fresh, information about the Chinese in general, particularly their intelligence agencies; the Pashtun people and their fragmented existence in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the reaction of intelligence communities in countries such as Israel and the UK to their Chinese counterparts. Tjoa maintains that his depiction of the Chinese intelligence agencies is without foundation in fact. However, it is certainly founded on intimate knowledge of Chinese culture and rang very true.The premise is that the Pashtuns are seeking to acquire a portable nuclear device to use as political leverage. They are talking to six different potential suppliers. (This is not a spoiler: it is part of the blurb.) It was an interesting and timely plot device. And enabled Tjoa to investigate the character of Spymaster Wang, who was a child during The Great Leap Forward, when blame and self-criticism were vicious tools of the state, and recognises that elements of that mindset still exist in China today. The ways in which Chinese friendships and families work are subtly different from western ways. As are their work relationships. Tjoa shows us this through Wang’s way of working and his social interactions.At its best this book stands comparison with Le Carré’s early work. Spymaster Wang and George Smiley would very much enjoy each other’s company. Much of the book consists of people finding stuff out and puzzling over what it means. I prefer this sort of spy thriller to those where there is a high and bloody body count. There is action, but the espionage is more cerebral than physical. A nice line in Chinese aphorisms runs through the book. I particularly liked ‘act without desiring the results of your action!’, a mantra apparently predating the Lord Buddha, taught by Japanese Zen masters, who were themselves taught by Chinese Zen masters.By the end of the book I felt I knew considerably more about the way in which power is shifting towards the East in our world. It is moving not only towards China, but also towards various, post-Soviet, ‘Stans along the Silk Road and lining China’s borders – and, of course, one must not forget the firestorm which is the Middle East. Le Carré and others cast about constantly for new theatres of espionage and intrigue now that the Iron Curtain has come down. These days a refreshing breeze disturbs the Bamboo Curtain, giving us glimpses behind it. Charles Cummings touched upon nationalism among the Uyghurs (one of China’s ethnic minorities who also turn up in 'The Chinese Spymaster') in his 2008 book 'Typhoon'. Tjoa also contemplates the rumblings of nationalism in this part of the world (might it begin, in truth, with the Pashtuns?) This is fruitful ground for the modern spy thriller writer.There is rather more ‘telling’ in the book than the modern, western, fashion in fiction-writing favours. But in the context, it is probably the most economical way to keep the story moving.The occasional shifts in where and when we were kept me on my toes. In one case we unexpectedly timewarped some ten years into the past. However, it very quickly became apparent that this was essential information. And how else was it to be offered to the reader?Tjoa thoughtfully provides a ‘Key Words, Abbreviations and Institutions’ section, and maps. An aide memoire to the large cast of characters would also have been helpful. I had no difficulty with Hu and Yu. Nor with Wang, Tang and Owyang. The use of nicknames (apparently a Chinese schtick) helped. But I did have difficulty remembering who was who among the many minor characters. (I would make a lousy spy!)If you like your spying bang up to date and more mental than action-based, I believe you will enjoy this book.

  • Awesome Indies Reviewers
    2019-01-28 19:54

    The Chinese Spymaster by Hock G. Tjoa is a historical spy thriller written in a different manner than one usually encounters with this genre. Spymaster Wang of the PRC Intelligence Service learns of a North Korean attempting to sell a nuclear weapon, and that five other illicit arms dealers are doing the same. Though the trail is murky, Wang learns that the ultimate buyer in all six transactions is a group of Pashtuns of Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan who it is suspected plan to use it as a form of blackmail to gain independence. While the weapon itself poses no security threat to China, the potential fallout of the Pashtuns forcing Afghanistan and Pakistan succeed in their aims, it could encourage China’s own Muslim and other minorities to try the same.Wang must navigate the Chinese Communist Party’s byzantine and extremely slow bureaucracy, balance competing foreign intelligence services, and protect his country and his own position. Even worse for Wang, a middle age bachelor, he must contend with his friends and their wives who are determined that he ‘meet someone.’Told primarily from Wang’s point of view, with occasional diversions to other characters who are central to the overall plot, and written in English, but in Chinese style language, it will be difficult at first for the average English language reader (American or UK), but patience is its own reward. The story unfolds much like a traditional Chinese story would unfold, and in the end the reader will be rewarded with a fuller understanding of the murky world of intelligence and foreign relations, as seen through non-Western eyes. That alone would make it a worthwhile read, but the fact that it’s a well-constructed story with tons of suspense and the occasional plot twist, merely adds frosting to a tasty reading treat.There are a few unwieldy sentences that could have been tightened up, and while it is Chinese custom to address people by nickname, or title and surname, it was a bit disconcerting not to know the full names of the Chinese characters in the story; especially since the Westerners were all fully identified. That, though, doesn’t in any way detract from a compelling story. This is a mystery that will appeal to any reader who like to think.I give Tjoa 5 stars for his unique spy thriller.

  • Billy Buttons
    2019-02-09 18:53

    This book was recently entered in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. This is what our readers thought:Title: The Chinese SpymasterAuthor: Hock G. TjoaStar Rating: 4 StarsNumber of Readers: 19StatsEditing: 8/10Style: 7/10Content: 9/10Cover: 5/10Of the 19 readers:12 would read another book by this author.3 thought the cover was excellent.7 thought the Chinese setting was the best part of the book.7 felt the text was often a little too complex and difficult to follow.5 felt the pacing was too slow.Readers’ Comments‘Behind this very simple cover is a pretty interesting spy story. The author is an academic and this shows in the style of the writing. If you enjoy the simplicity of Clive Cussler, this is not for you. There is a strong political element to the story and there is a lot of ‘telling’ and not ‘showing’, speech being sparse and a little wooden. As a result, it feels cold and reminds me of a newspaper article.’ Male reader, aged 45‘This is a rather thoughtful book. It is NOT an action-packed thriller but I don’t think the author wants it to be. What it is, is a thoughtful, well-researched looked at political intrigue and terrorism dynamics. Where there is fighting, the author seems a little lost. Definitely for the high-brow thriller reader.’ Female reader, aged 61‘There’s a lot of info in this story; so much so, it kills the pace. If you fancy a book which will help you to understand the complexity of Chinese government, then this is for you. If you want fast-paced adventure, try Jack Higgins.’ Male reader, aged 33‘Very enjoyable story. I loved all the Chinese history and how cleverly the Spymaster plays the spying game.’ Female reader, aged 41‘A spy thriller for smart readers.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

  • Claire
    2019-02-20 19:38

    I receive The Chinese Spymaster as part of a Goodreads giveaway.I should preface this review with the caveat that I am a novice to the spy thriller genre, and so this review should be taken with the view that my knowledge/experience is limited.The story centers around a group of intelligence agents, mostly in and from Asia, as they seek to uncover the mystery behind the attempt of North Korea (and five other entities) to sell nuclear devices to the Pashtuns, an ethnic group that straddles that India/Pakistan border, eventually uncovering the Pashtuns' deadly serious goal of creating an independent state.I really enjoyed Tjoa's ability to take real international issues and craft them into an exciting, engaging story that has a real ring of truth and plausibility. I wish I had more knowledge of the genre, because I feel like I could have appreciated it more--I'm just not as familiar with the concepts and hierarchies of spy/intelligence agencies, which made the book challenging for me, personally. However, a challenge isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I think it's definitely a worthy read for anyone with an interest (be it new or long-standing) in spy thrillers.Recommended.

  • James
    2019-01-30 16:36

    I liked this book. The plot was very timely to the world as it stands today and I thought it gave at least a glimpse into the Chinese culture. I have no background or experience with this culture to draw off of, but the author seems to have either personal experience or done a lot of research for his setting.The pace of the plot and story was good, though it started a bit slow for my personal taste.My one complaint is that there were several scenes I think would be greatly improved if there was more "show" than "tell." I found these a little bit distracting as far as losing myself in the story completely. I also did not personally care for the flashback story for the introduction of major characters but I think that is a personal preference more than a flaw in the story or writing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories in the vein of Tom Clancy. Stories of far away lands that are not fantasy, as an American with no real knowledge of the setting, I found it informative, believable (he lays out what is fact and what is made up in the beginning) and very enjoyable.

  • Leah
    2019-02-01 20:40

    I received this book in return for a fair review.I wish there were 1/2 stars, I would give this book 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the story, and the writing, but I felt the story line was lacking. I was prepared for a spy/suspense novel, and he dug right in with an in depth back story, but then the Pashtun terrorists quickly disappear. I could tell that the author was building the back story of the main characters, probably for a sequel, and in the notes about the author is says that he's planning on two more. I would definitely read them. The only other issue I had, and it's a small one, is that I don't like when authors make their characters English unnatural for non-Americans. I understand that they are trying to recreate the nuances of the characters native language, in this case Mandarin, but it is still awkward.

  • Jason Richards
    2019-01-26 15:50

    I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. The Chinese Spymaster reads almost like a non-fiction take on espionage and political intrigue. I had shades of Tom Clancy in the story's dedication to give the reader a detailed and exceedingly well researched look into this world. I'm a sucker for anything that looks the details and intricacies of history and this book hit that spot for me dead on. If you are looking for an honest take on espionage, are a fan of history or simply want to know more about a topic that I've never seen approached in any other medium I wholly recommend this book.

  • Kristian Hall
    2019-02-21 12:55

    The Chinese Spymaster by Hock Tjoa is about a senior operative in Chinese foreign intelligence, Wang. He leads a small team in the search for a North Korean arms dealer trying to sell a nuclear device to Pashtun separatists in Afghanistan. The book is a good read. The language is elegant and the dialogue well written. I have always been fascinated by China, and it's refreshing to read a spy thriller from a Chinese perspective. I can recommend this book if you are looking for a political thriller where you want to learn a few things about foreign policy from a Chinese perspective. I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Tim Johnson
    2019-02-03 20:57

    I was impressed by Hock's ability, in the Prologue, to describe a fight scene so realistically. Hock also uses his knowledge of the culture and politics of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan to create an intriguing story. I would recommend The Chinese Spymaster to all readers who are interested in a good story involving the history and politics of a hotbed of this region of Central Asia.(by Tim W. Johnson)

  • Stephanie
    2019-02-11 15:30

    The Chinese Spymaster is an amazing read! I was sucked into this story from page one and continued reading until the very end. Spy novels are often not very interesting but this one was perfect! I love everything about this novel and can’t wait to see what happens next!