The Lacquered Talisman

Publisher: Earnshaw Books

Genre: Historical Fiction (1300s China)

Length: 330 pages

Available formats: Paperback and e-book

Cover artist: Kerry Dennis, a fine arts student in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. (And also my son!!!)

Blog feed: click here for posts about publishing my debut novel


Lacquered Talisman-Cover-V10A sweeping coming-of-age epic, The Lacquered Talisman launches the story of one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. He is the son of a beancurd seller and he will found the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. Known as “Fortune” as a boy, Zhu Yuanzhang is part of a large and doting family who shepherd him through hardship until drought and plague ravage the countryside. Left with nothing but a lacquered necklace from his grandfather, Fortune is deposited in the village temple and is soon wandering the countryside as a begging monk. He encounters pockets of resistance to the ruling Mongol dynasty, studies the stars, and tangles with Taoists as he seeks to understand his destiny. Signs and dreams convince him that he has a special fate. Is he to be the abbot of a monastery? A general? What matters most is that he prove himself to be a filial son.

Reviews:IR Sticker Approved Sticker 2

“Historical fiction lovers will delight in THE LACQUERED TALISMAN, which gives us a vividly-imagined, brilliantly-told story of a real-life emperor’s humble origins.”  – August 12, 2020 five-star review

“Using only a handful of sources, Laurie Dennis paints a vivid historical landscape peopled by unforgettable characters. Readers will thrill to the story of “Fortune,” a young man from a shattered family who discovers his destiny while trying to survive in the turbulent world of fourteenth-century China. The Lacquered Talisman is historical fiction at its best: realistic, richly-imagined, and totally involving!”
– Harry Miller, Professor of History at the University of South Alabama and author of the Ming Dynasty novel, Southern Rain

“Laurie Dennis knows more than anyone else about the founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang. This fictionalized adventure tale fills out the peasant emperor’s own account of his family’s fortunes and misfortunes, and tells us about daily work, games, customs, and religious practices in 14th Century China. Anyone interested in Asian culture or history will enjoy and learn from Dennis’s lively and well-informed story-telling.”
– Sarah Schneewind, Professor of History at UC, San Diego, and author of A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China

You can find The Lacquered Talisman for sale wherever books are sold, with a suggested paperback list price of $19.99.  Try my page on! (Disclosure: I am an affiliate of and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.) If you find my book at your favorite local bookstore – take a photo and send it to me!

Contact me: My WeChat ID is LaurieBadgerland, and you can find me on Twitter at



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