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The Empress of Bright Moon (The Empress of…
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The Empress of Bright Moon (The Empress of Bright Moon Duology)

by Weina Dai Randel

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Showing 5 of 5
A disappointment after the first book. I had been eagerly looking forward to this book after reading the first part of the duology. Although the first book wasn't exactly a constant page-turner, I was still intrigued enough to follow Mei and learn how she would deal with life now that it seemed she and Pheasant could be together and happy. Maybe.
 
Again we are treated to a tale of court intrigue and drama in historical China. Mei must navigate her relationship with Pheasant, his new duties as the heir (and then Emperor), her changing role and finally her rival and Pheasant's wife. What follows is political machinations, backstabbing, violence (sexual and physical) and more. 
 
Unfortunately the book did not live up to the first part. The mostly revolves around the intrigue of Mei vs. Empress Wang which pits the court against each other. It sounds intriguing as a concept but it's mostly in the background and we get the conflict between Mei and Wang. Occasionally these two are interesting but it felt a bit like a rehash of the first book, with Mei's opponent replaced with someone more powerful. It doesn't help Pheasant seems a bit too meek either.
 
Then the book takes a rather ridiculously melodramatic turn with a particular murder. In itself I didn't object to it (apparently it's based on real-life events) but it just seemed more like a plot device to finally drive Mei over the edge. I wasn't a fan of it. 
 
As with these types of books and as mentioned above, there's definitely stuff people may wish to avoid. Rape, infanticide, physical abuse, torture, animal death all occur in the book. Most of it is not detailed too much, with the reader mostly just seeing the aftereffects but there are some descriptions that a reader may wish to avoid. 
 
Overall the book was a disappointment. I wanted to like it and was disappointed the sequel wasn't available at the library (I could have borrowed the first one instead and saved myself just a bit of money!). Instead this was a book that either should have been condensed into a long epilogue at the end of the first book or this should have been kept as one really long tome. I'd argue for skipping this and just reading the first one, or at least don't rush out to read it. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Awhile back, I read a book called Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel. It felt like I was watching one of my historical Asian dramas, and I was happy to discover that the story was based off of a real historical figure. Not only is it based off of a historical figure, the main character was the first female Empress of China! I really enjoyed the first novel so I knew I had to read the sequel and find out what happened to her.

I'm going to begin my review by saying that this is not a book you can read as a standalone; you absolutely have to read The Moon in the Palace before reading this one or you won't understand what is going on. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, I really liked this book. Just like its predecessor, the novel reads like an asian drama, full of intrigue and political mind games. The author really made history come alive through this story! I really enjoy reading about constant manipulation and power struggles, which is why this book was so wonderful for me but if you don't like either one of those things, then this novel probably isn't for you. While this story may not be 100% historically accurate, the author really gave some depth to Mei's character and made her actions believable and understandable. Overall, a really interesting novel on a prominent historical figure in China! ( )
  veeshee | Jan 29, 2018 |
The Empress of Bright Moon is part 2 of a duo logy on the early life of Empress Wu, China's only ruling female. The story picks up where part 1, The Moon in the Palace, ended with a dying Emperor Taizong and his son Pheasant, formally Emperor Gazing, being declared as his heir. Pheasant is in a relationship with Wu Mei, our protagonist.

When Pheasant becomes Emperor his uncle advises the court that Taizong made a will before his death installing the uncle as Regent over Pheasant even though Pheasant was an adult. Pheasant is married to Lady Wang, now Empress Wang, who has been barren during their 7 year marriage. Empress Wang has become a bitter woman and treats the concubines abysmally, especially Mei whom she is jealous of. Mei has been able to produce 2 children for Pheasant and is not only her rival but a rival of the new Regent. Mei is promoted to the Most Adored title (Emporer's favorite) early in the story and is given another title that is above the other high ranking concubines, Luminous Lady. there are concubines titled as Talents, Graces, Beauties and Leading Ladies. Mei struggles to obtain power as she battles her 2 rivals.

I loved this book as well as book 1. The female characters are strong but there are less of them than in book 1. The plot is mainly about Mei's problems with the Regent and Empress Wang as well as Pheasant's struggles with his Regent and the court in general. The other higher ranking concubines are not as central to the plot as they were in book 1. Both books are well researched. The political intrigue during the Tang dynasty and in the palace are represented well.

A must read for historical fiction fans. ( )
  Violette62 | Apr 23, 2017 |
Knowing very little about China's Empress Wu prior to this novel (and its prequel), I enjoyed the engaging story, but was disappointed that the story ended right when I thought it was just getting started. Wu's path to power in 7th-century China is portrayed as filled with court politics, scheming, and lots of deception and intrigue. All this made for a very compelling and intriguing novel, but I also found myself very curious about the rest of Wu's life, which the author mentions in the historical note at the end, and from the details mentioned, I wondered why more novels on this historical figure are not planned. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Oct 5, 2016 |
Couldn't really get into this book I'm afraid.
Maybe it's because it is the second book and the first had the important information.
I will have to read that before I reread this.
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Sourcebooks/Landmark via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review. ( )
  Welsh_eileen2 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Showing 5 of 5
"A full immersion, compulsively readable tale that rivals both Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid (2004), about the Dowager Empress Cixi, and the multilayered biographical novel Empress (2006), by Sa Shan, which also features Empress Wu. "
added by Weinarandel | editBooklist (starred review), Jen Baker (Mar 1, 2016)
 
"A must-read for fans of historical fiction set in ancient China, this novel offers a compelling look at a woman's unprecedented rise to power."
added by Weinarandel | editLibrary Journal (Starred Review), Catherine Coyne (Feb 15, 2016)
 
“Once again, Randel’s gift for evoking the atmosphere of the palace shines. Readers are immersed in a world where vengeance is a way of life. Though accurate, the reality and brutality of some incidents may disturb gentle readers. Truly a fascinating read!” – RT Book Reviews, 4 stars, for The Empress of Bright Moon
added by Weinarandel | editRT Book Reviews (Feb 15, 2016)
 
“Randel offers a rich conclusion to her historical fiction duology about the woman who would become China's only ruling empress, in this work filled with sorrow and pain… Randel has done much to breathe life into the life of Empress Wu.”
added by Weinarandel | editPublishers Weekly (Feb 15, 2016)
 
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At the moment of the Emperor's death, everything changes in the palace. Mei, his former concubine, is free, and Pheasant, the heir and Mei's lover, is proclaimed as the new Emperor, heralding a new era in China. But just when Mei believes she's closer to her dream, Pheasant's chief wife, Lady Wang, powerful and unpredictable, turns against Mei and takes unthinkable measures to stop her. The power struggle that ensues will determine Mei's fate-- and that of China.… (more)

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