A Novel

Book - 2006
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Historical fiction of Empress Wu of the Tang Dynasty. A detailed historical account of a controversial figure of Chinese history. ""My skin was tanned by the sun; my figure was slim with bronzed muscle. I was like a challenge to those pale faces and concealed bodies. . . . To other women the choice of clothes was a form of ingenious exhibition, a shameless seduction. To me, dresses were like a breastplate that I put on to set off to war against this life."-- from Empress Such is the voice of Shan Sa's unforgettable heroine in her latest literary masterpiece, Empress. Empress Wu, one of China's most controversial figures, was its first and only female emperor, who emerged in the seventh century during the great Tang Dynasty and ushered in a golden age. Throughout history, her name has been defamed and her story distorted by those taking vengeance on a woman who dared to become emperor. But now, for the first time in thirteen centuries, Empress Wu (or Heavenlight, as we come to know her) flings open the gates of her Forbidden City and tells her own astonishing tale -- revealing a fascinating, complex figure who in many ways remains modern to this day. Heavenlight's story begins with her birth into the humble yet noble Wu clan. Her parents had wanted a boy, but destiny will carry their precocious daughter farther than they ever dreamed. At the age of twelve, she is called by decree to serve the emperor as a Talented One of the fifth imperial rank. Leaving behind her beloved mother and sister, she is escorted to the Forbidden City and enters the imperial gynaeceum, which houses ten thousand concubines. In her lavish yet sequestered new life, Heavenlight soon discovers that the great halls are teeming with seductions, plots, murders, and brazen acts of treason. Propelled by a shrewd intelligence, an extraordinary will, and a close friendship with the imperial heir, the girl who gallops horses and performs archery as brilliantly as any man sheds her childhood and rises through the ranks to the very pinnacle of power. On the one hand, she proves herself to be a political mastermind who can quell insurrections and open wide the routes of international trade; on the other, she's a passionate patron of the arts who brings Chinese civilization to unsurpassed heights of beauty and sophistication. And throughout her extraordinary reign, we are privy to her innermost struggles. Writing with epic assurance, poetry, and vivid historic detail, Shan Sa plumbs the psychological and philosophical depths of what it means to be a striving mortal in a tumultuous, power-hungry world. Empress is a great literary feat and a revelation for the ages."--Inside jacket.
Publisher: New York : Reagan Books, 2006
Branch Call Number: FICTION SA
Characteristics: 319 p. ; 24cm


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Mar 23, 2018

Shan Sa is a great writer!
One could wax poetic about her lyrical writing style; how her words sparkle like a bed of emeralds from the sunlight of a Spring morning, but it is far simpler to state that she is a great writer.

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