Sunday 10 September 2006

Empress by Shan Sa

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPublished by Regan Books - An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.

I bought this book simply because I liked the cover. I finally got around to reading it and fell in love with it almost from the start. The writing style is great, the descriptive detail matches that only seen in one other book by me and that is Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. The sounds, sights and smells all come to life so vividly and the reader is transported back in time to the era of Empress Wu.

The horizon kept receding further. The road forked and melted into the sun. The roar of the River Han and the seagulls' cries disappeared. The greens, blues, ochres, and mirrored reflections of the paddyfields vanished. On the far side of the River Huai, the hills smoothed out, and the trees had lost their leaves. Rivers and dry reeds sprang out of the black earth and its metallic glitter. The wind whipped up, squally gusts tormented the fields, and straggly wheat stalks moaned. The horses and oxen lowered their heads to battle against the wind. Little Sister had taken refuge in my carriage; wrapped in furs, we tried in vain to keep warm. All day long I listened to pebbles clattering against the wheels and the howling of the north wind, which deadened my thoughts. My heart was dry, I had no tears left.
Empress Wu, one of China's most contraversial figures, was it's first and only female emperor. Historically, her story has been distorted and her name defamed by those who detest that a woman dared to become emperor. This book is her own story, told by her and though this is a novel and not a history book, I loved learning about how the world would have been back then. The historical detail is brilliant.

It's an intruiging tale of Wu's life from being born all the way through to her death. The challenges she faces, the pain and sadness, the rare moments of bliss and passion and so much more all bring this wonderful character to life in an amazing way.

I found myself, so often, filled with raw energy and emotion as I followed her journey. Oftentimes I found myself wondering if I would have even been able to live in that era and I think not. The strength, courage and determination of this woman is just incredible and this novel has left me eager to research some of the facts surrounding this historic figure.

This is a book which will grab your attention from the start and will make it impossible to put down. The characters and their experiences will linger on in your heart long after you finish reading.

No comments: