18 Cranes is the first book in my nine-part Kaifeng Chronicles series of novellas set in late Ming dynasty China.
Twenty-three-year-old, Li Bing, son of a vice-prefect, writes the provincial level civil service examination in Hangzhou, China, in the year 1630, just over a decade prior to the demise of the Ming dynasty. The story unfolds over a six-week period, from the first day of the three-day examination cycle, to the day when the results are announced.
Throughout this brief period, Bing is haunted by a recurring dream of eighteen cranes. He explores its possible meaning with his father, maternal grandfather, and the young woman he is destined to marry.
He learns much more than he could have imagined.