Book review: The Broken Rules of Ten

‘Rule of Ten’ prequel explores mysticism, mystery at monastery

Broken Rules of Ten Hendricks Lindsay Buddhist novel metaphysical fiction

Jean Bakula, guest reviewer

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tenzing Norbu is one of the most unique fictional characters to grace a book’s pages in quite some time. The authors have collaborated on two other books about Ten, as he prefers to be called. “The First Rule of Ten” and “The Second Rule of Ten” describe his life as a private detective in Los Angeles, California, his dream job. But as a youth, Ten was groomed to be a Buddhist monk. What on Earth happened in the intervening years to change the trajectory of his life this much? We discover the truth as Ten navigates his first brush with mysticism, mystery, and perhaps even murder.

Ten’s mother Valerie, a hippie who backpacked across Europe and Asia after college, met Ten’s father, Tsewing Norbu,  in India. They had a brief fling, but soon it became obvious that she and this cold, disciplined man would not be able to share a compatible life together. Young Ten spent part of the year with Valerie in Paris and part at the Dorje Yidam Monastery in Dharamshala, India, where his father served as the senior Abbot and Monastic Disciplinarian.

The Broken Rules of Ten is a prequel to the first two books, and takes place when Ten is thirteen years old and going through the confusing indignities of puberty. Poor Ten has vivid dreams of Pema, a girl his age who delivers pastries to the monastery. He often roams around outside, hoping he does not get caught. Even at this young age, we see Ten is a nonconformist and an adventurous person.

Ten’s life is unusual, to say the least. It is very confusing to spend part of the year with a drunk and stoned mother, and the other part with his Buddhist monk father. One year Valerie started sending Ten to catechism, overtaken by Catholic guilt. But Ten has trouble with any belief system that sets up rules and regulations, only to find that the rule makers do not like those who ask too many questions.

Ten feels like a misfit wherever he is, although later into his adult life, he not only comes to terms with it, but decides to embrace it while observing the Buddhist precepts. This is an aspect of the book I enjoyed as I am interested in Buddhism; it helped to see how a person incorporates the precepts into everyday life.

At Dharamshala, Ten tangles with another student, Lama Nawang Gephel, a prized scholar rumored to be heading for the highest academic honor the monastery has. It hurts Ten that his father always sings the praises of Nawang and lectures Ten about his own faults, which are really not serious. Both boys discover each other breaking the rules–Nawang smokes ganga, and Ten reads forbidden Sherlock Holmes novels.

Nawang asks Ten to be friends and Ten agrees, happy because he is usually the outsider and is shunned by many of the boys.  But Nawang makes a request that causes Ten to wonder if his friendship is sincere or if he is trying to persuade Ten to do something that would get him in trouble.

During an important ceremony Nawang behaves disrespectfully and then commits a terrible act in town. Ten did nothing wrong, but his strict, unyielding father sends Ten back to Paris, not allowing Ten to take his vows. Having read the first two books, I know that Ten does not return to the monastery again; although it has a special place in his heart, he goes on to live his life outside of it.

The First Rule of Ten and The Second Rule of Ten were interesting and well plotted, and it was very enjoyable to see how Ten manages to live a full life made fuller by following the precepts of Buddhism. He has a curious and serious attitude about life, and it is a treat to see the world through the eyes of such a thoughtful person, who places so much trust in his intuition. He has some cultural gaps because of the years he lived at the monastery, but those are kind of fun.

I highly recommend all three of these books, and sincerely hope the authors continue the series! Even if you do not particularly like metaphysical topics, the books are worth reading if you like a good mystery. The authors got it right; I believe it is better to get to know Ten in his adult life and then go back to see how his childhood shaped the person he becomes.

The Broken Rules of Ten: Tenzing Norbu’s First Mystery, by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
Hay House, Inc., 2013
Kindle, 121 printed pages
Buy at Amazon

If you are interested in metaphysical topics, I have a blog at and would love to see you there! I cast and interpret Astrology Horoscopes that are not computer generated, and give Tarot Readings. I also write about some metaphysical books, Astrology, the Tarot, Meditation, Chakras, Auras, Ghosts, a few of my own visions, and many other subjects. I can also be found at where I have written extensively about Astrology, among other subjects.


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