An English writer with a varied bibliography ranging from humor, to dystopian science fiction, to mystery tales of the blind detective Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah achieved literary success and is still best known for his tales of itinerant Chinese storyteller, Kai Lung. Bramah’s combination of understated humor, familiarity with East Asian culture and mythology, and most especially his inspired ‘translation’ of the cadences and over-refinement of antiquely formal and courtly Chinese into a playfully whimsical English, proved not only popular with audiences, but enduringly influential for the more fantastical varieties of Asian-themed fiction penned in the West over the last hundred years.
Lin Carter chose both Kai Lung’s Golden Hours, and Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in the 1970s, and had the series continued there would have certainly been more Kai Lung available had Carter wished — for unlike many of the individual works or even specific authors Carter would reprint after decades of relative obscurity, Bramah’s Kai Lung stories have never been long out of print in over a century since their first publication.
Both covers were illustrated by future fantasy art legend Ian Miller, and anyone familiar with his long career can see the stylistic flourishes and unique aesthetic that make Miller’s work instantly recognizable. Below is Miller’s original for Kai Lung’s Golden Hours.