There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power.
A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the emperor's attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the emperor a gift he can never forget.
Mei's intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.
In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China - where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life or death - and the woman who came to rule it all.
©2016 Weina Dai Randel (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
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Great book, but the recording glitched out on two full chapters. Nothing but clicks and static. That is the only reason for 4 stars.
"A lovely book"
I confess I was a bit prejudiced towards this book. I've been watching Chinese TV series The Empress of China which is about Wu Meiniang, and when I saw this book I was transfixed as I can't get enough of that formidable woman.
Of course, The Moon in The Palace and what I saw on TV did not match. I could recognize the main events but their interpretation was very different. I liked both, although the TV series felt more mature while the book felt a bit simplified for the average reader. Still, it was beautiful.
Weina Dai Randel has a lovely voice. Mei comes off as a poetic soul, brave and determined, and yet ultimately, fragile. The Emperor is a very troubled man, dangerous in his absolute power over life and death, haunted by his past and aged by his life experiences. He is not a likeable character, which is why it's easy to understand how Mei falls in love for Pheasant, his son.
Another fab thing about this book is that every character is flawed. They muddle along in the treacherous halls of the Palace, and more often than not Mei is in the dark about what's happening and that she is a pawn.
Overall, it's carefully crafted, easily read and very likeable historical fiction. For those of you, who likes books based in China and who is fascinated by this rich historical period, I say, don't hesitate to give it a try. It was a good read.
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