The Moon in the Palace

Debut novelist Weina Dai Randel gives voice to the clever young girl who would become the powerful Empress Wu, China's only female emperor, in The Moon in the Palace, first in a duology about the rise of the legendary monarch.

Educated by her father in poetry, history, mathematics and the philosophies of Sun Tzu, prophesied by an astrologer as the mother of emperors and an emperor in her own right, Wu Mei prepares from childhood to bring greatness to her family. Though her father dies and her family loses its stature, Mei becomes a Select--a new concubine to the Emperor Taizong--as a young teenager, and enters court a virtual slave among hundreds of other women competing for the Emperor's attention, including a disgraced former favorite and the mothers of the Emperor's sons. With wit and pluck, Mei finds ways to place herself in the Emperor's path and captivate him, but his eighth son, Pheasant, steals her heart. Hoping to bolster her family's fortunes, Mei maneuvers herself closer to the coveted position of Most Adored, but her love for the prince may cost her everything.

The Moon in the Palace depicts Empress Wu's sharp, persistent spirit but does not neglect to make her believably naive and vulnerable, an untried girl among ruthless women. The intrigue and machinations of the imperial court come to life under her hand, a vast and dangerous engine with each piece moving for its own reasons. As Mei learns her way, she will capture readers' imaginations with the iron will that made a woman an emperor. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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