This novel is widely regarded as the magnum opus of Andre Malraux. It won the Prix Goncourt, as probably Malraux would have found some of his experiences (he was in China during those turbulent years) handy when writing it.
This novel is about human bonds, ideals, love, betrayal, hatred and everything. It primarily focuses on four young men- Kyo Gisors ( half French and Half Japanese, son of a well known Frenchman known as Mr.Gisors), Chen ( a fanatic who idealizes death), Katov, the Russian toughie, and the Belgian- Hemmelrich.
They have a plan – toppling the established order and bring revolution to China. But it fails, and Chen gets killed during a botched attempt to assassinate Chiang Kaishek .Kyo and others gets captured, and they eventually get killed or commit suicide.
I really liked Kyo Gisors . He is the sober one, the intellectual. Unlike Chen’s extreme suicidal ideations, Kyo has a pragmatic approach to everything, especially towards revolution though his relationship with his wife, May is bit strained.
Mr. Gisors is an opium addict,a well respected figure among the French population in the city. He loves his son and fear for his fate. He is close to Chen as well.
Baron Clappique is the most colorful character in this novel- The Mythomaniac, who conjures up stories after stories to hide his miserable present state.
Other characters include Mr. Feral; representing the French petit bourgeoisie and his girl friend Valerie (she ditches Feral as he saw her only as a sexual object. She is the most underrated character in this novel in my opinion).
This is an excellent philosophical novel, a poetic one. Malraux was a genius and so my five stars….