Author: Weina Dai Randel
Part of a Series: The Empress Wu Duology
Type of book:Tang Dynasty, China, friendships, concubine, palace, struggles, monastery, 649-655 ME, motherhood, bareness, nature, political games, Emperor, Empress, secrets, family, filial piety, happiness, manipulation, lies
Year it was published: 2016
In the captivating sequel to The Moon in the Palace, Mei must protect her people from a murderous empress
The second book in this stunning duology, The Empress of Bright Moon follows Mei as she struggles for power within the Emperor's palace, risking her life to dethrone the murderous Empress and establish herself as the new female ruler of China.
After Mei's lover, Pheasant, is crowned Emperor, a power struggle erupts between Mei and Pheasant's wife, Empress Wang. Both women are desperate to secure their name and rank. But when Empress Wang takes their feud to a new level by murdering Mei's supporters, Mei realizes that she must defeat the bloodthirsty Empress—not only to save herself, but also to protect her country.
Main characters include Mei who came from an impoverished family and became Pheasant's main concubine. She is resourceful, very intelligent, brave and cunning. In the story she is struggling with keeping power and is doing the best she can to stay ahead of her competition. Pheasant is easy-going, a bit selfish and wants to disregard convention. He also isn't good with political games and is very filial to his family. Reagent strikes me as complete antithesis to Pheasant and is out for himself. Empress Wang is Pheasant's wife more out of necessity rather than love and she also has her own struggles with her lack of fertility as well as being displaced by Mei. She is cold, brutal and calculating. Princess Gaoyang is Pheasant's favorite sister who is athletic and very protective of Mei. She has her own mind and doesn't listen to anyone.
Nothing is what it seems
The story is written in first person narrative from Mei's point of view and is far more suspenseful than the prequel. Probably because I read the previous book and had more familiarity with the Tang court, I was able to enjoy this more. Also as well, the story is one heck of a roller coaster ride but the ride isn't too fast nor too slow but instead it builds up and doesn't let the tension go until the very end of the story. Just like the prequel, the story has more of a modern feel to it although there are surprising instances that it takes place almost 1400 years ago. I also liked that certain revelations were left until the very end of the book because it kept me glued to the story.
(From inside the book)
Weina Dai Randel was born and raised in China. She has worked as a journalist, a magazine editor, and an adjunct professor. Her passion for history tels her to share classical Chinese literature, tales of Chinese dynasties, and stories fo Chinese historical figures with American readers. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and currently lives in Texas. The Moon in the Palace is her first novel.
While I liked The Moon in the Palace, I personally loved The Empress of Bright Moon. The story is much more suspenseful, there is more at stake and I couldn't wait to see what will happen next to Mei and Pheasant. There are a lot of surprises in store for the reader and a lot of shocking details will be revealed. I feel that it is important to read the first novel in order to enjoy this one because in this one the author doesn't go into a lot of details about how Tang Dynasty was like. One thing that I didn't like about the book is that it goes up until Mei becomes empress, but it doesn't go into when she becomes the emperor of China which would have been very fascinating to read about.
This was given to me by the author for an honest review; I also would like to thank Jocelyn from Speaking of China for introducing me to the author who gave me this wonderful opportunity to read and review the novels, truly a time of serendipity
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)