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Authors: Dori Jones Yang

Daughter of Xanadu

BOOK: Daughter of Xanadu
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This is a work of fiction. All incidents and dialogue, and all characters with the exception of some well-known historical and public figures, are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Where real-life historical or public figures appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those persons are fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or to change the fictional nature of the work. In all other respects, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2011 by Dori Jones Yang
Map copyright © 2011 by Steven Yang

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Yang, Dori Jones.
   Daughter of Xanadu / Dori Jones Yang.—1st ed.
     p. cm.
   Summary: Emmajin, the sixteen-year-old eldest granddaughter of Khublai Khan, becomes a warrior and falls in love with explorer Marco Polo in thirteenth-century China.
   eISBN: 978-0-375-89727-6 [1. Soldiers—Fiction. 2. Sex role—Fiction. 3. Love—Fiction. 4. Mongols—Fiction. 5. Kublai Khan, 1216–1294—Fiction. 6. Polo, Marco, 1254–1323?—Fiction. 7. China—History—Yuan dynasty, 1260–1368—Fiction.] I. Title.
   PZ7.Y1933Dau 2011      [Fic]—dc22      2009053652

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.


For Paul
who inspired me to try to bridge the gap
between East and West



Title Page




Emmajin’s Family Tree



Part I - In Xanadu

1 – A Taste of Victory
2 – A Thirst for Glory
3 – Shame
4 – The Archery Contest
5 – Final Round
6 – Elephant Ride
7 – A Tale of Bandits
8 – Above Xanadu
9 – Foreign Menace
10 – In the Garden
11 – The Khan’s Banquet
12 – The Grasslands
13 – Crucial Information
14 – Overheard
15 – Betrayal
16 – Commission

Part II - Journey to Carajan

17 – The Army
18 – Training
19 – Departure
20 – Archery Lessons
21 – Bamboo Fire
22 – Tibetan Village
23 – To Carajan
24 – Dragon Village
25 – Dragon Hunt
26 – Fire Rats
27 – To Battle
28 – The Battle of Vochan
29 – The Battle Rages
30 – After the Battle

Part III - Return to Khanbalik

31 – New Possibilities
32 – Precious Medicine
33 – Under the New Moon
34 – News
35 – Reentry
36 – At the Monastery
37 – Chabi’s Wisdom
38 – The Emperor of China
39 – Face to Face
40 – Search for Marco
41 – The Khan’s Hunting Camp
42 – Becoming a Legend
43 – The Khan’s Decision
44 – At the Ocean



About the Author


This is the story of two adventurous hearts from thousands of miles and worlds apart: one from medieval Venice and the other from the royal court of the Mongol Empire. A quirk of destiny brought them together, and their tale is revealed here for the first time.

To each, the world looked totally different. For Emmajin, life centered on the court of her grandfather Khubilai Khan. Outside the thick walls of the palace lay the streets of the capital city, and beyond that, land after land that her ancestors had conquered, across the grasslands, over mountains, and through deserts to the primitive kingdoms of the Far West, where men had beards and round eyes of strange colors. The vast Mongol Empire, the largest in history, was at the peak of its power; it controlled most of the known world, and her grandfather was determined to conquer the rest.

Like all Mongolian children, Emmajin had learned to ride horses before she could walk and handled a bow and arrows with ease. She heard stories of brave Mongol women who were her ancestors, brilliant, resourceful, ambitious, and kind. But most of the women at court lived lazy lives of luxury. She preferred action and the outdoors and wanted to gallop off to have adventures like her male cousins, who all expected to join the army.

Beyond the far western edge of Emmajin’s grandfather’s empire, Marco Polo, at the age of seventeen, left his beloved home in Venice, Italy. It was the High Middle Ages, and many cities in Europe, then called Christendom, were building huge cathedrals. Venice was the richest city in Europe, and its traders brought home merchandise from far lands. But most of Europe was divided into tiny kingdoms that were relatively poor and powerless. When Marco’s father and uncle returned from a long journey and told of a fabulous, wealthy empire in the East, ruled by a wise, powerful emperor, with millions of citizens, huge armies, and rare gems, few believed them.

Marco joined them on their second journey to the heart of the Mongol Empire. Because of sickness, bandits, icy mountains, and endless deserts, that journey took more than three years. By the time Marco arrived at the Khan’s capital, in AD 1275, he spoke four languages and had many lively stories to tell.

Emmajin and Marco met in Xanadu, the Khan’s summer capital, then called Shangdu. Outside the gleaming marble palace stretched a glorious garden, a paradise of brooks and ponds, pavilions and pagodas, winding paths and blossoming trees. It was a land of myth and mystery, where the unthinkable could happen.

Years later, when Marco Polo returned to Europe, he wrote a book about what he had seen in this marvelous land. Some dismissed Marco’s book as falsehood, accusing him of exaggerating. But his writing fired European imaginations for centuries; five hundred years later it inspired a famous poem that begins “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan …” Most famously, Marco’s book motivated Christopher Columbus to set sail across the ocean to the West, hoping to find the treasures of the East.

The distant land that Marco Polo “discovered” had long been known to the people who lived there. Khubilai’s capital was in China, which had developed an advanced civilization with poetry, calligraphy, silk, and jade, and a written history of thousands of years. Khubilai’s people, the Mongols, had roamed for centuries across the grasslands of Asia as herdsmen and warriors, living in round tents they called
s, known to us as yurts. Some people called the Mongols barbarians because they had no written language, buildings, or even houses. But they perfected mounted archery and conceived brilliant military tactics that allowed them to quickly conquer much more advanced countries. Two generations earlier, Khubilai’s grandfather, Chinggis Khan, and his fierce horsemen had swept across northern China and central Asia, defeating land after land, reaching as far as Russia, Poland, and Hungary in present-day eastern Europe.

By the time Marco Polo arrived, the Mongols had conquered most of the known world. They had abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and were living in Chinese-style palaces, wearing silks and brocades and eating sumptuous banquets in their capital city of Khanbalik, now known as Beijing. Khubilai Khan loved entertaining foreign visitors and debating with them about the merits of their customs and religions. Admired for his wisdom, he remained determined to fulfill the mandate from his grandfather: to conquer the rest of the world, including Europe.

The young woman in these pages, Khubilai Khan’s eldest granddaughter, Emmajin, is purely fictional. But the details about the place and time and events are as accurate as possible, based on historical accounts. Many other people in these pages were real; I have imagined their personalities.

Like a lot of girls today, Emmajin dreamed big dreams. In her culture, the only way to achieve greatness was to prove your military skills on the battlefield. So that was what she set out to do. That is, until Marco Polo came along.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.…

—“Kubla Khan,”
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

And when you have ridden three days from the city last mentioned, between north-east and north, you come to a city called Chandu, which was built by the Kaan now reigning. There is at this place a very fine marble Palace, the rooms of which are all gilt and painted with figures of men and beasts and birds, and with a variety of trees and flowers, all executed with such exquisite art that you regard them with delight and astonishment.

Round this Palace a wall is built, inclosing a compass of 16 miles, and inside the Park there are fountains and rivers and brooks, and beautiful meadows …

—The Travels of Marco Polo
by Marco Polo and Rustichello of Pisa, circa 1299,
The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition
, Volume I

BOOK: Daughter of Xanadu
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