Marco Polo

October 5, 2016

As a child I was fascinated with Genghis Khan (1162 – 1227 A.D.) and his grandson Kublai Khan (1215 – 1294), who was the 5th Khagan (Great Khan of the Mongol Empire), and the 1st Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty in China (1271 – 1368).  He was the first non-native emperor to conquer all of China. This fascination is why I knew a little bit about Marco Polo. In fact, I’ve known about Marco Polo most of my life but not much detail about what he actually accomplished in China.


Marco Polo lived in China for 17 years and loyally served Kublai Khan.  I’ve never seen the first television miniseries (8 episodes) originally broadcast by NBC in 1982, but I have watched season one of the recent Marco Polo series produced by Netflix.

Halfway through Seasons One’s Netflix series, I wanted to know how accurate this fascinating interpretation of Marco Polo’s life in China was and did some digging with help from Google.

In the Bonus material for the 1st season, there’s a thirty-eight minute documentary that I recommend watching before starting the episodes, so you have a better idea of who Marco was and what he did in China.  That way you won’t have to do what I did. Watching the documentary will help you separate fact from fiction while watching the series. I didn’t know about the documentary until I finished watching the episodes.

What I found interesting when I did my research about Marco’s years in China (1275 – 1292) was the show’s ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.  The thirty-three critics gave the show a rating of 4.7 out of 10, but the audience of 2,162 gave the show a rating of 9 out of 10. It was easy for me to side with the audience.

I bought the DVDs for Marco Polo Season 1 from Amazon where it has 4.6 of 5 stars from the 90 customer reviews.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.


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Daughter of Xanadu – Part 2/4

April 18, 2011

A review (guest post) by Tom Carter of Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

The merchants’ young son turns out to be one Marco Polo, the now-legendary Venetian journeyer credited for introducing Asian culture to the west.

To Emmajin, however, he is just another “colored-eye man,” a court curiosity from Christendom whose gallantry and romantic gestures are as ridiculous to the manly Mongolians as his facial hair (“his beard was so thick I could imagine food sticking in it”).

Try as she might, however, Emmajin, caught in the peak of puberty, is unable to resist Marco’s western charm, and quickly finds herself enamored by his worldly vision (“I had learned to see the world through Marco’s eyes”) as well as his pelt.

“What would the hair on his arm feel like?” she often fantasized about at night.

But she was a Mongolian first, and reluctantly sacrifices her blossoming relationship with the foreigner to complete her spy mission (“He was not a friend but a source of information.”).

Continued on April 19, 2011 in Daughter of Xanadu – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Travel photographer Tom Carter is the author of China: Portrait of a People (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review), a 600-page China photography book, which may be found at

Discover more “Guest Posts” from Tom Carter with Is Hong Kong Any Place for a Poor American?

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