Title / The Moon in the Palace
Author / Weina dai Randal
Publication Date / 2016
Overall Star Rating / ★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: 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. The first volume of the Empress of Bright Moon duology 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.
When I saw this was set in ancient China I was immediately interested and it didn’t disappoint. This is probably the first historical fiction book I’ve read that is set in ancient China and I definitely want to read more. One of the main strengths of this book is the setting. I thought it was done really well and I found it so interesting. Having said that I don’t know a lot about Chinese history so I can’t say how accurate this may or may not be. This has definitely made me interested in learn more about Chinese history though. I will also say that I felt that it was perhaps a little romanticised. I never truly felt that the main character was in a lot of danger and she seemed to move from one way of thinking to another quite often – one minute she’s trying desperately to get the Emperor’s attention and the next she doesn’t seem that bothered by it. Her character seemed quite inconsistent at times. I think this is a result of the way it’s written. A lot of the time we get to see things through the logical side of her brain, so you never really know what she is feeling, if that makes sense. Other than that though, I thought the characters were generally well written and were all interesting. The political atmosphere within this book is great, although I wanted to see more of the hierarchy of the concubines and their relationships with each other. We do see some that was well done but I wanted more. Having said that, you can really tell that the author has done a load to research to get to this detail of a ancient Chinese society. The descriptions of the palace, the royal attire and such were great and really added depth to the story. I thought the writing was great and I was hooked from very early on. This book is definitely a page turner. The pacing is well done – it is a little slow at times but not in a bad way as I never found that it dragged. The last thing I’ll mention is the romance. I liked that it didn’t take centre stage and it was generally pretty well done.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic historical fiction and I will definitely be checking out the sequel – it’s a duology. It wasn’t perfect but it’s one of those books you love while being aware of it’s flaws. Having said that it’s still a really good book.I’m excited to see how things progress in the next book. I will definitely be getting my hands on it as soon as I can. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.