Fromthe superstition-bound peasant villages to the perfumed decadence of the Forbidden City, Manchu China was a land of extremes: barbarism and elegance, poverty and lavish wealth. It's people lived in near enslavement to the emporer.
Then came Hung, a charismatic new leader who promised hope to the masses - an Empire of Heaven on Earth.
Very intense, interesting reading. A great story.
I loved this book. " May well become a classic. Not since The Good Earth have I been so caught up in an adventure in a strange land" Tony Hillerman
"From the superstition-bound peasant villages to the perfumed decadence of the Forbidden City, Manchu China was a land of extremes; barbarism and elegance, poverty and lavish wealth. It's people lived in near enslavement to the emperor. Then came Hung, a charismatic new leader who promised hope to the masses--an Empire of Heaven on earth. But to Rulan, the proud daughter of a village spirit woman, Hung is a frightening stranger whose life she saved with her healing gift on a violent, demon-haunted night. Afire with the rebel cause, Rulan nonetheless hides from Hung's growing obsession with her. She serves as a spy in the house of the great Manchu general Li, where she is nurse to his crafty mother and mistress to the Li heir. And it is there in the enemy stronghold that she meets the captive Pao An, a hothead with a poet's tenderness, who awakens in her a passionate love, and a powerful yearning to be free of both the Manchus and the half-mad Hung--free to creat her own future.
NY Times calls this the "Chinese Gone with the Wind". "Warrior and healer, concubine and spy, Rulan is a remarkable heroine. Her story, inspired by Linda Ching Sledge's years of research into her own family history, is told within a rich and vibrant portrait of China in a rebellious age. This is that rare and beautiful novel that totally immerses the reader in its world." Prequel to "A Map of Paradise" which continues the story of Rulan and Pao An in Hawaii.