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Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens their bones. He constantly tries to keep them without knowledge and without desire, and where there are those who have knowledge, to keep them from presuming to act on it. When there is this abstinence from action, good order is universal. The Tao is like the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness.

How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of all things! We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others. How pure and still the Tao is, as if it would ever so continue! Heaven and earth do not act from the impulse of any wish to be benevolent; they deal with all things as the dogs of grass are dealt with. The sages do not act from any wish to be benevolent; they deal with the people as the dogs of grass are dealt with.

Much speech to swift exhaustion lead we see; Your inner being guard, and keep it free.

The Deaths of Tao

The valley spirit dies not, aye the same; The female mystery thus do we name. Its gate, from which at first they issued forth, Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth. Long and unbroken does its power remain, Used gently, and without the touch of pain. Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long.

The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able to continue and endure. Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved.

Is it not because he has no personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realised? The highest excellence is like that of water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving to the contrary , the low place which all men dislike. Hence its way is near to that of the Tao. The excellence of a residence is in the suitability of the place; that of the mind is in abysmal stillness; that of associations is in their being with the virtuous; that of government is in its securing good order; that of the conduct of affairs is in its ability; and that of the initiation of any movement is in its timeliness.

And when one with the highest excellence does not wrangle about his low position , no one finds fault with him. It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness. When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil on itself.

When the intelligent and animal souls are held together in one embrace, they can be kept from separating. When one gives undivided attention to the vital breath, and brings it to the utmost degree of pliancy, he can become as a tender babe. When he has cleansed away the most mysterious sights of his imagination , he can become without a flaw. In loving the people and ruling the state, cannot he proceed without any purpose of action? In the opening and shutting of his gates of heaven, cannot he do so as a female bird?

While his intelligence reaches in every direction, cannot he appear to be without knowledge? The Tao produces all things and nourishes them; it produces them and does not claim them as its own; it does all, and yet does not boast of it; it presides over all, and yet does not control them. The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty space for the axle , that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends.

The door and windows are cut out from the walls to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space within , that its use depends. Therefore, what has a positive existence serves for profitable adaptation, and what has not that for actual usefulness. Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy the craving of the belly, and not the insatiable longing of the eyes.

He puts from him the latter, and prefers to seek the former. Favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honour and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions of the same kind. What is meant by speaking thus of favour and disgrace? Disgrace is being in a low position after the enjoyment of favour. The getting that favour leads to the apprehension of losing it , and the losing it leads to the fear of still greater calamity :—this is what is meant by saying that favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared. And what is meant by saying that honour and great calamity are to be similarly regarded as personal conditions?

What makes me liable to great calamity is my having the body which I call myself ; if I had not the body, what great calamity could come to me? Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honouring it as he honours his own person, may be employed to govern it, and he who would administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be entrusted with it.

Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure. Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again returns and becomes nothing. This is called the Form of the Formless, and the Semblance of the Invisible; this is called the Fleeting and Indeterminable. We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see its Back. When we can lay hold of the Tao of old to direct the things of the present day, and are able to know it as it was of old in the beginning, this is called unwinding the clue of Tao.

Shrinking looked they like those who wade through a stream in winter; irresolute like those who are afraid of all around them; grave like a guest in awe of his host ; evanescent like ice that is melting away; unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into anything; vacant like a valley, and dull like muddy water. Who can make the muddy water clear? Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear. Who can secure the condition of rest? Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise. They who preserve this method of the Tao do not wish to be full of themselves.

It is through their not being full of themselves that they can afford to seem worn and not appear new and complete. The state of vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree, and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigour. All things alike go through their processes of activity, and then we see them return to their original state.

When things in the vegetable world have displayed their luxuriant growth, we see each of them return to its root. This returning to their root is what we call the state of stillness; and that stillness may be called a reporting that they have fulfilled their appointed end. The report of that fulfilment is the regular, unchanging rule. To know that unchanging rule is to be intelligent; not to know it leads to wild movements and evil issues. The knowledge of that unchanging rule produces a grand capacity and forbearance, and that capacity and forbearance lead to a community of feeling with all things.

From this community of feeling comes a kingliness of character; and he who is king-like goes on to be heaven-like. In that likeness to heaven he possesses the Tao. Possessed of the Tao, he endures long; and to the end of his bodily life, is exempt from all danger of decay. In the highest antiquity, the people did not know that there were their rulers. In the next age they loved them and praised them.

In the next they feared them; in the next they despised them. Thus it was that when faith in the Tao was deficient in the rulers a want of faith in them ensued in the people. How irresolute did those earliest rulers appear, showing by their reticence the importance which they set upon their words! When the Great Tao Way or Method ceased to be observed, benevolence and righteousness came into vogue.

Then appeared wisdom and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy. When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell into disorder, loyal ministers appeared. If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold.

If we could renounce our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial and kindly. If we could renounce our artful contrivances and discard our scheming for gain, there would be no thieves nor robbers. Those three methods of government Thought olden ways in elegance did fail And made these names their want of worth to veil; But simple views, and courses plain and true Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew. When we renounce learning we have no troubles. But mark their issues, good and ill;— What space the gulf between shall fill?

What all men fear is indeed to be feared; but how wide and without end is the range of questions asking to be discussed!

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The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased; as if enjoying a full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone seem listless and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of their presence. I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. I look dejected and forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. The multitude of men all have enough and to spare. I alone seem to have lost everything. My mind is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of chaos. Ordinary men look bright and intelligent, while I alone seem to be benighted. They look full of discrimination, while I alone am dull and confused.

I seem to be carried about as on the sea, drifting as if I had nowhere to rest. All men have their spheres of action, while I alone seem dull and incapable, like a rude borderer. Thus I alone am different from other men, but I value the nursing-mother the Tao.

The grandest forms of active force From Tao come, their only source. Who can of Tao the nature tell? Our sight it flies, our touch as well. Eluding sight, eluding touch, The forms of things all in it crouch; Eluding touch, eluding sight, There are their semblances, all right. Those essences the truth enfold Of what, when seen, shall then be told. Its name—what passes not away; So, in their beautiful array, Things form and never know decay. How know I that it is so with all the beauties of existing things? By this nature of the Tao. The partial becomes complete; the crooked, straight; the empty, full; the worn out, new.

He whose desires are few gets them; he whose desires are many goes astray. Therefore the sage holds in his embrace the one thing of humility , and manifests it to all the world. He is free from self- display, and therefore he shines; from self-assertion, and therefore he is distinguished; from self-boasting, and therefore his merit is acknowledged; from self-complacency, and therefore he acquires superiority.

It is because he is thus free from striving that therefore no one in the world is able to strive with him. Abstaining from speech marks him who is obeying the spontaneity of his nature. A violent wind does not last for a whole morning; a sudden rain does not last for the whole day. To whom is it that these two things are owing? To Heaven and Earth. If Heaven and Earth cannot make such spasmodic actings last long, how much less can man! Therefore when one is making the Tao his business, those who are also pursuing it, agree with him in it, and those who are making the manifestation of its course their object agree with him in that; while even those who are failing in both these things agree with him where they fail.

Hence, those with whom he agrees as to the Tao have the happiness of attaining to it; those with whom he agrees as to its manifestation have the happiness of attaining to it; and those with whom he agrees in their failure have also the happiness of attaining to the Tao.

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But when there is not faith sufficient on his part , a want of faith in him ensues on the part of the others. He who stands on his tiptoes does not stand firm; he who stretches his legs does not walk easily. So , he who displays himself does not shine; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished; he who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged; he who is self- conceited has no superiority allowed to him. Such conditions, viewed from the standpoint of the Tao, are like remnants of food, or a tumour on the body, which all dislike. Hence those who pursue the course of the Tao do not adopt and allow them.

There was something undefined and complete, coming into existence before Heaven and Earth. How still it was and formless, standing alone, and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere and in no danger of being exhausted! It may be regarded as the Mother of all things. I do not know its name, and I give it the designation of the Tao the Way or Course.

Making an effort further to give it a name I call it The Great. Great, it passes on in constant flow. Passing on, it becomes remote. Having become remote, it returns. Therefore the Tao is great; Heaven is great; Earth is great; and the sage king is also great. In the universe there are four that are great, and the sage king is one of them. Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao.

The law of the Tao is its being what it is. Therefore a wise prince, marching the whole day, does not go far from his baggage waggons. Although he may have brilliant prospects to look at, he quietly remains in his proper place , indifferent to them. How should the lord of a myriad chariots carry himself lightly before the kingdom? If he do act lightly, he has lost his root of gravity ; if he proceed to active movement, he will lose his throne. The skilful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps; the skilful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skilful closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible; the skilful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what he has bound will be impossible.

In the same way the sage is always skilful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is always skilful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything. Therefore the man of skill is a master to be looked up to by him who has not the skill; and he who has not the skill is the helper of the reputation of him who has the skill. If the one did not honour his master, and the other did not rejoice in his helper, an observer , though intelligent, might greatly err about them. Thus he the constant excellence retains; The simple child again, free from all stains.

The unchanging excellence completes its tale; The simple infant man in him we hail. The unwrought material, when divided and distributed, forms vessels. The sage, when employed, becomes the Head of all the Officers of government ; and in his greatest regulations he employs no violent measures. If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing.

He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it. The course and nature of things is such that What was in front is now behind; What warmed anon we freezing find. Strength is of weakness oft the spoil; The store in ruins mocks our toil. Please note that Taoism embraces many teachings that will help a person work through midlife crisis.

This passage is an example of such a teaching to help a person moderate their actions when changing in life. He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms. Such a course is sure to meet with its proper return. Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up. In the sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years. A skilful commander strikes a decisive blow, and stops. He does not dare by continuing his operations to assert and complete his mastery. He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it.

He strikes it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for mastery. When things have attained their strong maturity they become old. This may be said to be not in accordance with the Tao: and what is not in accordance with it soon comes to an end. Now arms, however beautiful, are instruments of evil omen, hateful, it may be said, to all creatures. Therefore they who have the Tao do not like to employ them. The superior man ordinarily considers the left hand the most honourable place, but in time of war the right hand. Those sharp weapons are instruments of evil omen, and not the instruments of the superior man;—he uses them only on the compulsion of necessity.


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Calm and repose are what he prizes; victory by force of arms is to him undesirable. To consider this desirable would be to delight in the slaughter of men; and he who delights in the slaughter of men cannot get his will in the kingdom. On occasions of festivity to be on the left hand is the prized position; on occasions of mourning, the right hand.

The second in command of the army has his place on the left; the general commanding in chief has his on the right;—his place, that is, is assigned to him as in the rites of mourning. He who has killed multitudes of men should weep for them with the bitterest grief; and the victor in battle has his place rightly according to those rites.

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Though in its primordial simplicity it may be small, the whole world dares not deal with one embodying it as a minister. If a feudal prince or the king could guard and hold it, all would spontaneously submit themselves to him. Heaven and Earth under its guidance unite together and send down the sweet dew, which, without the directions of men, reaches equally everywhere as of its own accord. As soon as it proceeds to action, it has a name. When it once has that name, men can know to rest in it. When they know to rest in it, they can be free from all risk of failure and error.

The relation of the Tao to all the world is like that of the great rivers and seas to the streams from the valleys. He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a firm will. He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity. All things depend on it for their production, which it gives to them, not one refusing obedience to it.

When its work is accomplished, it does not claim the name of having done it. It clothes all things as with a garment, and makes no assumption of being their lord;—it may be named in the smallest things. All things return to their root and disappear , and do not know that it is it which presides over their doing so;—it may be named in the greatest things.

Hence the sage is able in the same way to accomplish his great achievements. It is through his not making himself great that he can accomplish them. To him who holds in his hands the Great Image of the invisible Tao , the whole world repairs. Men resort to him, and receive no hurt, but find rest, peace, and the feeling of ease. Music and dainties will make the passing guest stop for a time. But though the Tao as it comes from the mouth, seems insipid and has no flavour, though it seems not worth being looked at or listened to, the use of it is inexhaustible. Fishes should not be taken from the deep; instruments for the profit of a state should not be shown to the people.

The Tao in its regular course does nothing for the sake of doing it , and so there is nothing which it does not do. If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would of themselves be transformed by them. If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would express the desire by the nameless simplicity.

Simplicity without a name Is free from all external aim. With no desire, at rest and still, All things go right as of their will. Those who possessed in highest degree the attributes of the Tao did not seek to show them, and therefore they possessed them in fullest measure. Those who possessed in a lower degree those attributes sought how not to lose them, and therefore they did not possess them in fullest measure. Those who possessed in the highest degree those attributes did nothing with a purpose , and had no need to do anything. Those who possessed them in a lower degree were always doing, and had need to be so doing.

Those who possessed the highest benevolence were always seeking to carry it out, and had no need to be doing so. Those who possessed the highest righteousness were always seeking to carry it out, and had need to be so doing. Those who possessed the highest sense of propriety were always seeking to show it, and when men did not respond to it, they bared the arm and marched up to them.

Thus it was that when the Tao was lost, its attributes appeared; when its attributes were lost, benevolence appeared; when benevolence was lost, righteousness appeared; and when righteousness was lost, the proprieties appeared. Now propriety is the attenuated form of leal-heartedness and good faith, and is also the commencement of disorder; swift apprehension is only a flower of the Tao, and is the beginning of stupidity.

Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower. It is thus that he puts away the one and makes choice of the other. Heaven which by it is bright and pure; Earth rendered thereby firm and sure; Spirits with powers by it supplied; Valleys kept full throughout their void All creatures which through it do live Princes and kings who from it get The model which to all they give. Thus it is that dignity finds its firm root in its previous meanness, and what is lofty finds its stability in the lowness from which it rises.

So it is that in the enumeration of the different parts of a carriage we do not come on what makes it answer the ends of a carriage. They do not wish to show themselves elegant-looking as jade, but prefer to be coarse-looking as an ordinary stone. All things under heaven sprang from It as existing and named ; that existence sprang from It as non-existent and not named. Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly carry it into practice. Scholars of the middle class, when they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.

Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at it. If it were not thus laughed at, it would not be fit to be the Tao. Its highest virtue from the vale doth rise; Its greatest beauty seems to offend the eyes; And he has most whose lot the least supplies. Its firmest virtue seems but poor and low; Its solid truth seems change to undergo; Its largest square doth yet no corner show A vessel great, it is the slowest made; Loud is its sound, but never word it said; A semblance great, the shadow of a shade.

The Tao is hidden, and has no name; but it is the Tao which is skilful at imparting to all things what they need and making them complete. All things leave behind them the Obscurity out of which they have come , and go forward to embrace the Brightness into which they have emerged , while they are harmonised by the Breath of Vacancy. What men dislike is to be orphans, to have little virtue, to be as carriages without naves; and yet these are the designations which kings and princes use for themselves. So it is that some things are increased by being diminished, and others are diminished by being increased.

What other men thus teach, I also teach. The violent and strong do not die their natural death. I will make this the basis of my teaching. The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest; that which has no substantial existence enters where there is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing with a purpose. There are few in the world who attain to the teaching without words, and the advantage arising from non-action.

Or fame or life, Which do you hold more dear? Or life or wealth, To which would you adhere? Keep life and lose those other things; Keep them and lose your life:—which brings Sorrow and pain more near? Thus we may see, Who cleaves to fame Rejects what is more great; Who loves large stores Gives up the richer state. Who is content Needs fear no shame. Lives of the Tao is an engaging read from start to finish. Roen's journey takes him from being an overweight, weak-willed shlub to a major player in a war for Earth's future.

Not bad for an IT guy who hasn't had a girlfriend in ten years. The relationships in Lives of the Tao are what drives the story forward, most notably Roen's relationships with Tao, the alien living inside his head, and Sonya, the Phophys host assigned to help Tao whip him into shape. It's a fun read. One of my favorite parts is how Tao related a paragraph or two of the history between the two Quasing factions, the Genjix and the Prophus, at the beginning of each chapter, sometimes paralleling events in the story.

The ending, while somewhat predictable, was perfect for the story and left it open-ended enough for future adventures of Roen and Tao. Four easy stars. View all 8 comments. May 29, Kemper rated it liked it Shelves: , spy-vs-spy , aliens. So maybe you want to take another look at that new diet after all? This was entertaining but felt relatively light weight. The idea of a wise old entity stuffed into the meat sack of a whiny slacker was played for some good laughs, and I liked the idea of a covert war being waged between two alien factions.

I would have enjoyed it more focus on the history of Tao and the other aliens on Earth, and a little less on Roen as a rehabilitation project. View 1 comment. Jul 06, Brad Foley rated it it was ok. In the end, I think The Lives of Tao is worth reading, if you like secret-agent-y, teenage chosen-one, wet-dream martial arts action adventure. But only barely. It's kind of like a bland mash-up of "Kung-Fu Panda" and "Bodysnatchers".

The first big problem is the quality of the writing, which ranges from barely serviceable to ungrammatic and painful. A single example: "The fact that she enjoyed sport In the end, I think The Lives of Tao is worth reading, if you like secret-agent-y, teenage chosen-one, wet-dream martial arts action adventure. A single example: "The fact that she enjoyed sports was just another added bonus for them to have an even bigger crush on her. I wish Chu had gotten a decent editor, because I hate having to pause to wince.

Second - there is no narrative tension at all. Nothing is driving the book beyond a generic from-loser-to-Chosen-One adolescent fantasy. Roen grumbles about waking up early to exercise, but eventually goes along amiably, with the help of a dazzlingly beautiful trainer and the ancient sifu-in-his-head. The sifu-in-head gently encourages Roen with phrases lifted from a motivational calendar "Of course I'm proud of you", "You can be as great as you want to be". A military general, millions of years old, stuck in the body of a tub-of-lard underachiever in the middle of a failing campaign that has spanned millenia is dispensing dating advice and chuckling "Stop grinning like a mad fool and get to the gym, you big peacock"?

And this is ostensibly the alien that possessed Ghengis-bloody-Khan? There are a couple "crises" in the book. At one point, his naive enthusiasm can't stand up to the realities of combat, to Roen's immense shock, and he sulks for a few months. There is also a token love triangle, with a little bland oh-we-were-fighting-now-we-are-face-sucking; an unconvincing courtship; and a kind of ghastly resolution. His best friend and roommate is patently a prop. He is just supposed to be good looking and good with women, but has no discernable personality, and the "friendship" apparently consists of occasional pizza, and Roen losing at poker.

I don't know why the guy is in the book at all. He at one point serves as an unbeliever when Roen explains what's 'really going on'. This unauthorized confidance is supposed to be a Bad Idea, but nothing comes of it. However - as a brainless, and frequently aggravating, pleasure read, "Tao" has a couple things going for it.

The characters, though are occasionally likeable. There is a surprising amount of legitimate Chinese martial history scattered through the book, and even a little Kung-Fu or more probably Tai-Chi philosophy. Feb 08, Brandon rated it it was amazing Shelves: , fiction , ebook , syfy , arc-reviews.

Before you and I existed — in fact, before most people existed — our planet was inhabited by a group of aliens. Unable to exist on our planet in their natural form, the alien race, or Quasing, merged with the bodies of wayward creatures. As time went on, a divide was slowly created between two burgeoning sects, the aggressive Genjix and the peaceful, human-sympathetic Prophus. Both sides want to leave Earth and return to their home planet but they both have different ideas in how to go about it.

The influence the alien race has had on key figures and events throughout history was pretty neat and added a uniqueness to the story that really helped push this book over the 4 star hump into 5 star territory. The back story involving the Quasing race is deep enough without throwing too much information at the reader. While I was skeptical at first, I ended up enjoying the character of Roan Tan. His interactions with his Quasing, Tao, had me laughing out loud while also creating some heartfelt dramatic moments.

I hesitate to use the word bro-mance in describing their friendship but what the hell, there it is. In the end, it comes down to the fact that The Lives of Tao is really fun to read. It has all the energy and excitement of a big budget summer action movie but an intricate enough plot that it comes away as a smart, sci-fi thriller. The characters that Wesley Chu presents to us are both compelling and memorable that they demand to be brought back to life in future books. May 26, Experiment BL rated it it was ok Shelves: science-fiction , reviewed.

The series contains the following tropes:

That awkward moment when you enjoyed the book but hated the hero and wished he would drop dead, preferably within the first chapter he was introduced. OMFG, the whiny dipshit was insufferable. Roen was the classic definition of TSTL. TSTL, I say! Gun shoots and kills people. This alie That awkward moment when you enjoyed the book but hated the hero and wished he would drop dead, preferably within the first chapter he was introduced.

This alien war is for serious. I need to take a break and go discover myself while my comrades are risking their lives everyday to keep another day safe for humanity. Roen never attained the large amount of character growth I expected from him. At the end, he still needed his alien-in-his-head buddy Tao to play cheerleader for him in the confrontation against the big bad guy. The love triangle between Sonya and and Jill made me want to flip a table.

Speaking of Jill, it was very odd that for such an important character she rarely made a physical appearance in the story. The only reason I was still invested in the book was because of the aliens. Genjix respectively. The thing that I liked about the bad aliens was how ruthlessly they acted.

I wished Tao emulated that ruthlessness, at the very least in regard to make Roen a hero because if there was ever a person who needed tough love Roen was it. The only reason I liked Tao because most of his scenes that were told in his POV were flashbacks to ancient times when he traveled around in East Asia and possessed historical figures. The history lessons with an alien twist were interesting. Alien stories are even more interesting when they're mixed up in a spy thriller.

That being said, the latter isn't usually my cup of tea, but I have to appreciate The Lives of Tao for not taking itself too seriously and for being just quirky enough to win me over. I'm also as fond of unconventional heroes as I am of unconventional aliens. A self-doubting, weak-willed, TV-dinner-munching and out-of-shape IT technician working at a dead end job probably isn't someone who immediately comes to mind when you think of the ultimate secret agent.

It definitely wasn't what ancient alien life-form Tao had in mind either when he had to choose a new host after the untimely death of his last one, but it's not like he had a choice. That's how our hapless protagonist Roen Tan woke up one day hearing an alien's voice in his head.


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Two factions make up Tao's species, the Quasings: the peace-loving Prophus and the savage Genjix. The two sides have been engaged in a covert war for centuries, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. As a high-profile Prophus, Tao finds himself racing against time to whip Roen into shape and to train him in the subtle arts of espionage.

His new host must become combat-ready and fast -- before the Genjix can discover his identity and eliminate him. An alien consciousness in a person's head certainly isn't a new idea, but like I said before, this book struck me as more unique and scores highly with me because of the complexity in the relationship between the aliens and humans. And that's not all to it either; the internal conflicts between the Quasings themselves also gave this story a nice spin. Basically, stories about aliens that are out to invade earth and kill everyone are a dime a dozen.

It's nice to read one where the extraterrestrials or at least a faction of them, anyway are on our side for a change, and what you do know, aliens can disagree amongst themselves too when it comes to how to deal with us puny humans. This was a really great book, filled with action and suspense as well as plenty of humor. However, beneath all that is also a very good message.

Throughout the course of the novel, we see Roen grow from a loser with low self-esteem to a someone with confidence who's no longer afraid to fight for what he wants. As unlikely as it sounds, this really is a Cinderella story, with its main character starting out dejected and miserable but ending up a much happier and healthier man. Tao taught Roen many things beyond gathering intelligence and martial arts, not the very least is the fact that complaining will get you nowhere.

If you want something, you have to work for it -- and getting off your butt is only the first step.

The Deaths of Tao, Lives of Tao Series : Book 2 by Wesley Chu | | Booktopia

All in all, an entertaining science fiction thriller with a heavy dose of comedy, which almost makes this one feel like an In any case, it'll be like nothing you've read before. I'm looking forward to more by Wesley Chu, and definitely can't wait until we catch up with Roen and Tao again. More reviews at The BiblioSanctum View all 3 comments. May 21, Bradley rated it it was amazing Shelves: sci-fi. Is this a wholly urban fantasy?

Or is it a light sci-fi adventure? Is it a self-fulfillment fantasy for overweight and undermotivated readers who dream of getting the ultimate lifestyle overhaul into becoming the ultimate ninja? Yes, it is. And for any of you that aren't already hooked into reading the first of this trilogy? The writing is crisp and clear and it flows like ice down a mountain. We've got some pretty decent fight scenes, an obligatory Is this a wholly urban fantasy? We've got some pretty decent fight scenes, an obligatory love triangle sorry for you poor readers who are already sick of such , and life forms that have been living on the earth since the dinosaurs.

What's not to love about such an idea? Plot holes? Who cares. This is a pretty damn fun novel that works seamlessly as a satire. If you care to read it as such. I don't mind, either way, and it was fun either way. There's nothing wrong with light-hearted sci-fi. It doesn't challenge, but it is a delight to read. Some might successfully argue that this is what makes it superior. I suppose that depends mostly upon your mood or the current setting on your snob-knob. I'm pretty flexible. I can easily recommend this to anyone.

View all 7 comments. Executive Summary: A fun present day sci-fi story that will cause you to never look at history the same way again. Not long after, the first two books of this series were on sale so I added them to the ever increasing pile. Recently, I was looking for something to read. A few people recommended this as a good light read and I'm happy to agree.

Aliens are among us. The conspi Executive Summary: A fun present day sci-fi story that will cause you to never look at history the same way again. The conspiracy theorists are right. They've been inhabiting humans since the days of the neanderthal. Tao has inhabited some of the best leaders in history including Genghis Khan and Zhu Yuanzhang. His current host Edward is an elite field agent. Then everything goes sideways and Tao ends up in an overweight something computer programmer named Roen hey that's me! This is really more of a spy thriller with a sci-fi backdrop than it is your typical technology near-future sci-fi story.

Roen doesn't obtain magic powers, highly advanced weapons or a jet pack. What he does get is thousands of years of experience and expertise of the alien symbiote named Tao. Can Tao use his knowledge to turn Roen from overweight slob into something that can pass for a field agent? He had better because there is a civil war between the two factions of aliens that has been raging for hundreds of years, and Tao's side is losing. The book is well written, with enjoyable characters. The is a decent amount of humor throughout keeping things pretty light. I really enjoyed the way Mr.

Chu incorporates the Quasing into our history. This book was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to picking up the sequel just as soon as I have some more time. Highly recommended! View all 9 comments. Jan 27, Veronique rated it really liked it Shelves: , stars Chu mixes a coming-of-age story with comedy, espionage and scifi, and the result is pure enjoyment. Yes, the pace is very fast with plenty of action scenes and thrilling moments, but ultimately the core of the novel is the brilliant relationship between Tao and Roen. The banter was hilarious but that apart, each personality came across so naturally.

Tao allows him to see further than his repetitive and stifling life, giving him the opportunity to do more, matter, and fulfil himself. The reverse of the coin is that this path is also one full of pain, both physical and emotional. The premise of the war between Genjix and Prophus, as well as their influence on humanity, is sometimes a little far-fetched not enough details but on the other hand, the story works perfectly well anyway, so who cares More please :O Jan 02, Trin rated it did not like it Shelves: s , taiwanese-lit , sci-fi. Sexist garbage. Chu's worthless male "hero" is in an improbable love triangle with two skilled women, and Chu actually solves this problem by view spoiler [combining the rival ladies into a single person hide spoiler ].

Because of the wonders of science fiction, I guess. So congrats, dude! You've achieved a Sexist garbage. You've achieved a new level of gross! Apr 26, Richard Derus rated it really liked it. It's a first novel. But you know what? First novels this good come along rarely, and first novelists as classy and funny and smart as Chu deserve our support. I bought my paperback copies of this book because I wanted to read 'em. But I bought my Kindle copy of the book purely to support the career of a writer who deserves my dollars and my eyeblinks.

Aug 25, Paul rated it it was amazing Shelves: continental-challenge. Simply put its a great Scifi book. Concept is well worked and well thought out.