Empress Orchid (Empress Orchid, #1)
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Empress Orchid (Empress Orchid #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  14,059 ratings  ·  919 reviews
The setting is China's Forbidden City in the last days of its imperial glory, a vast complex of palaces and gardens run by thousands of eunuchs and encircled by a wall in the center of Peking. In this highly ordered place - tradition-bound, ruled by strict etiquette, rife with political and erotic tension - the Emperor, The Son of Heaven, performs two duties: he must rule...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 11th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 2003)
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225th out of 4,023 books — 17,397 voters
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Best Novels That Take Place in China
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bookshop
I can't say exactly whether this book is a work of fiction or a biography. It tells the story of Ci Xi, China's Last Empress (the one who arranged the ascend of China's Last Emperor, Pu Yi) in her own voice. Ci Xi has always been portrayed as a ruthless, evil woman with insatiable thirst for power and, in this book, she's described as a simple and sensuous woman who wants the best for her husband, a mother who wants her son to have what's rightfully his, and a I-don't-know-what who wants the bes...more
Crystal Starr Light
Nov 07, 2013 Crystal Starr Light rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Crystal Starr Light by: Isis
Bullet Review:

This was a lot of fun to read. I'm always interested in new cultures and new time periods, so this was perfect for me. I loved Orchid; she's the independent, strong-willed female protagonist we're always promised and never get. There were some dry sections, along with a lot of narration and not so much action, but I still enjoyed this heartily.

Full review:

Orchid is a young woman who moved from Wuhu with her family and father's body to Peking. Living in destitution, her best chance...more
coffeedog
I really wanted to love this book. I loved the author's autobiography (RED AZELEA) and her novel (KATHERINE)about a foreign English teacher in China, so I expected EMPRESS ORCHID to bring together her amazing talent for prose narrative in English, enhanced with her first-hand research of Chinese sources, to bring to life the mis-judged history of Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi. [return][return]I anticipated some embellishments, but the total re-creation of Tzu Hsi as "Orchid", into a kind of modern wo...more
Isis

I read this book several years ago, and I thought it was about time for a re-read, especially since I remembered it as being a good read. What I found interesting was the differences from how I remembered it. It was shorter than I recalled, and more brutal and heart-wrenching.

What I enjoy the most about Empress Orchid, and Anchee Min’s writing in general, is her skill at description. She knows how to turn a phrase in an interesting and quirky way that grabs the attention and at the same time fee...more
Kirsty
The book follows the story of Tzu Hsi (known as Orchid) who enters the Forbidden City as one of the Emperors concubines at the age of seventeen. Over time she seduces the Emperor and bears his son, which means an immediate rise in rank to 2nd Empress (1st Empress is Nuharoo). We see her struggle to keep the Emperor's interest whilst battling with Nuharoo to be allowed to raise her child herself (normal custom is for the first Empress to take over). When the Emperor dies, and names Orchid's son a...more
K
After my negative review of The Twentieth Wife A Novel, Mintzi recommended The Last Empress as a superior alternative and I thought I might as well read the prequel first.

"Empress Orchid" started off pretty strong -- Orchid, like Mehrunissa from "The Twentieth Wife," is a poor girl who miraculously rises to be the emperor's wife but unlike Mehrunissa, is not a goody-goody Mary Sue heroine. Chosen from among thousands of young women as the emperor's fourth concubine, Orchid discovers that palace...more
Hilda
Drama cinta dan kekuasaan selir muda Kaisar Hsien Feng... Indah, menawan, dan penuh intrik.

Tzu Hsi Yehonala, atau yang dalam bahasa Cina berarti anggrek adalah seorang Maharani, terlebih dia kaisar wanita yang paling lama berkuasa di Cina. Tapi Anggrek tidak mencapai posisi itu dengan mudah. Dia yang dulu hanyalah gadis desa, berhasil mendapatkan kekuasaan lewat rayuan, intrik politik, dan kecerdasan luar biasa.

Anggrek dulu hanyalah gadis berumur 17 tahun dari klan Yehonala, salah satu klan peng...more
Chris
The first grown-up movie (a movie with subtitles, adult themes, and not based on a comic book or video game) I ever saw was The Last Emperor. I saw it pre-high school. I can't remember why I wanted to see it. I can remember really wanting to see it and loving it. I still love it. So it should be no surprise that the first Anchee Min book I pick up is this one.

At this point, I should let you know that I know very little about Chinese history so I cannot judge this book on its historical accuracy...more
Nicole
This book intrigued me because of the summary I read on the inside flap, how this person seduced the emperor. It was even more appealing that this was basically a documentary of a person’s life. It provided a nice reprieve from the modern Chinese novels that I had been reading recently.

I liked learning about the imperial court life by learning about the culture and the politics. It made me appreciate it more, and realize what a great loss the country suffered when Communism eventually made its...more
Elizabeth
Sep 15, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction junkies
I didn't enjoy this book as much as "Becoming Madame Mao" and "Red Azalea," and would be more apt to award it 3 and a half stars if that rating were available.

Regardless, the book depicts a fascinating time in Chinese history. Imperial China, deeply rooted in ritual and tradition, comes alive in Min's novel about the last Empress of China, Tzu Hsi. I enjoy rags to riches stories, but this one comes at a cost. Imperial life is lavish, yet stifling. The Forbidden City is a place of danger and intr...more
Sweetdhee
Anggrek (Tzu Hsi) adalah anak Hui Cheng Yehonala, mantan taotai (Gubernur) di sebuah kota kecil beranama Wuhu, di Propinsi Anhwei, propinsi termiskin di Cina.

Masa kecilnya tidak pernah mudah.
Terutama setelah ayahnya dipecat Kaisar Tao Kang karena tidak mampu menahan pemberontakan petani yang putus asa karena kemarau panjang.
Ayahnya mati dirundung malu.
Bahkan demi memakamkan ayahnya di kota kelahirannya, Peking, mereka meninggalkan Wuhu tanpa harta sedikitpun.

Di Peking, Anggrek mendengar tentang...more
Serena
Empress Orchid was one of those books which left me in the state of vegetation. To put it simply, the book wasn't impactful at all and simply forgettable.

This book tells the beginnings of Ci Xi, known here affectionately as Orchid. Because Orchid is the protagonist, Empress Orchid does boarder on being too one sided and opinionated.

For example, Orchid's 'rival', Nuharoo, is often depicted as childlike and less intelligent. She is, by Orchid's account a woman of leisure who is petty and resorts...more
Toni Osborne
This is a fictionalized account of Empress Tsu His (known as Orchid) who was the power behind the throne of the Ch'ing Dynasty in the 19th century. According to the author the characters are base on real people and the events kept closed to the events in history. The decrees and poems were translated from the original documents:

In the 1850's European incursions and peasant rebellions were already undermining the Dynasty. At the same time Orchid born in to poverty came to the Forbidden City to be...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 01, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Chinese History
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
The author, Amchee Min, was born in Shanghai and came of age in China during the Cultural Revolution, and still visits there regularly. Being able to read Chinese, Min was able to extensively research her period using primary sources. I therefore trusted her depiction of late Ching dynasty China is fairly accurate. This novel is told as the first person account of China's infamous "Dowager Empress," Tzu Hsi aka Red Orchid, who came to the Forbidden City as one of the Emperor's brides when she wa...more
Katsumi
This book is filled with drama, intrique, loyalty, corruption, forbidden love and mystery. The Forbidden City is a totally different world for the book's heroine, Orchid, who becomes one of the Emperor's wives at the age of 17. Ms. Min has written a spellbinding novel, with colorful and interesting characters, rich detail and a vivid, interesting history of China, complete with details on customs, rituals and distictions between the Manchu's and the Chinese. Orchid and her eunech, An-te-hai will...more
Kavita
This book is a fictional narrative of the life of Empress Tzu Shi. The story starts off with the death of her father and how the entire family has to live in poverty, dependent on their uncle. So when Orchid sees the opportunity to apply for the position of the Emperor's concubine, she goes ahead. She ends up being selected as the fourth wife and the rest of the story deals with how she claws her way up to the top, provides a son to the Emperor and takes power when his health starts failing.

The...more
Katie
I did not really get a feel for Orchid as a character/historical figure - perhaps because it was narrated to us as a past event and most of the sense of urgency and real feelings were muted.

It was very, very frustrating to read about Nuharoo from Orchid's perspective, though. For someone who was supposedly trained in the court, she was mindbogglingly ignorant of how the political winds shift and sway.

But man, royalty the whole world 'round do some weird ass shit:

When Orchid was being examined...more
Fran
So my friend set up a book group at the end of last year and I'm now part of a real-world, actual in-person book group - rather than various online ones that I've tried and found unsatisfying. This was our first pick (selection process is made by everyone putting a choice into a hat and then one being picked out).

Historical fiction is a new area for me really, and I'm not sure this was the best book to start with. There are many things good and interesting about the book, but it didn't click fo...more
Eliza
I couldn't put this book down. I was surprised that I kept wanting it to keep going, keep telling her story. The story was really strong and covered a fair amount of her life without getting dull at the less exciting parts.

So the story covers the life of Empress Orchid, one of the last leaders of China's last dynasty, the Ch'ing Dynasty. It starts with her less than ideal life before becoming part of the Imperial household, when she is struggling with the prospect that she will have to marry he...more
Violet Crush
Generally after I finish reading a book, usually on the very day itself, I open a blank word document and start writing my review. But the page for this book stayed blank for a very long time. I didn’t know what to write, from where to start. There were so many details, so many parallel stories and so many emotions in this book; I almost did not write this review for the fear of not getting it right.

Okay let’s give it a try.
This is the story of the last Empress of China called Yehonala or Orchid...more
Lilzgold
After reading two of Lisa See's novels, I decided that I had to read another book set in China - I believe that I must have been going through a phase. Anyway, a quick search later and I found this: "Empress Orchid", a historical fiction about the girl who would eventually become the last Empress of China.

And guess what I found out after reading the book: this novel, and it's sequel, are controversial because Empress Orchid was a "classic villainess of Chinese History" which is far from how Anch...more
Kelli
The Empress Orchid, written by Anchee Min, is about the Ch’ing Dynasty in 1852. A concubine, Tzu Hsi known as Orchid as a child, was able to win the affections of the Emperor, Hsien Feng, and gave him a son then found herself the ruler of China. Reading about Chinese history and their royal families, this was fascinating.

The Empress Orchid and the other books I have read are the reason why I LOVE to read. For that moment as I’m reading a book, I can travel to another world, live in a fantasy or...more
Elecktra
tratta la storia dell'ultima imperatrice cinese Cixi. nella storia attuale questa donna era stata mal vista perchè secondo la storia moderna era un'imperatrice malvagia che pensava solo a se stessa.
nel libro l'autrice ci fa scorgere il punto di vista di Cixi, cè la fa conoscere prima coe una ragazzina appartenente ad una famiglia povera ma di nobili origini che pur di evitare un matrimonio sbagliato fa le selezioni per diventare una delle moglio dell'imperatore Xiang-Fen.
ottenuto il titolo di im...more
Amanda
Empress Orchid (in a nutshell) follows the life of the last empress of China, Cixi, from her teen-years, just before she became a concubine to the Emperor, until the death of the Emperor when she was about 30 years old. (Min's sequel, The Last Empress, picks up and covers the rest of Cixi's life.)

The book is written in first person, which always makes me dubious when writing about a historical person. Who can ever know what was going on in someone's mind? Especially someone as complex as Cixi. I...more
Elketw
Category: Books
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Author: An Chee Min

Novel ini menceritakan tentang kisah hidup seorang gadis Manchu yang bernama Anggrek Yehonala yang pada kemudian hari akan menjadi Permaisuri Cina yang sangat terkenal.

Awal cerita dimulai dengan cerita kematian ayah Yehonala yang sebelumnya merupakan Gubernur propinsi Wuhu. Meninggalnya sang ayah membuat Anggrek beserta Ibu dan kedua adiknya berada dalam kemiskinan. Keluarganya kemudian melakukan perjalanan yang panjang ke temp...more
Jackie
I had high expectations for this book after hearing so much about it on GoodReads. It sort of fell short of those expectations though. I give it 3 ½ stars, which is not bad but I thought it was going to be a 4 to 5 star book.

The story itself was very good and it certainly started very well. Orchid is a very likeable character and because of her humble beginnings and barriers she has to battle you can’t help but like her. As woman living during the Ch’ing Dynasty in 1852 Orchid has many hurdles...more
Julia Graf
This book is about Orchid, a poor young Manchu girl who marries into the royal family to be one of the many concubines of the Emperor of China, and then becomes the last Empress herself. It chronicles her life from her marriage to the Emperor until just after his death. During this time, Orchid has to prove herself against her many rivals in the Forbidden City to become the most coveted and influential concubines of her time.

I had higher hopes for this book and left mostly disappointed. The auth...more
Kami
I do not know a lot about China and its history. This book about a concubine in the forbidden city was fascinating. The elaborate wealth and tradition bound the forbidden city into a den of indulgence, loneliness, and intrigue. I learned a lot about eunuchs as well. I wish I knew how much was fiction and how much really happened. The book focuses at the time when China's wealth and power are fading. Europe is invading and some provinces are not happy and want to leave as well. Add to these polit...more
Heather J
This book was a somewhat difficult read for me. I enjoyed the descriptions of the rituals and ways of life for women in the Forbidden City. The plot was quite good, and I always enjoy a good story about women ruling in circumstances where men believe they cannot. I think part of my difficulty was due to listening to a large portion of the book in audio format. The narrator had an incredibly droning voice, and seemed to read incredibly slowly (each chapter took an hour to be read! Yikes!). So wha...more
Shannon
Historical fiction set in the Forbidden City of China. The beginning of the book was the best as there was much more description and humanity. Towards the end it starts to feel like a history text with dates and events. I see now that it is the first in a series so that explains the abrupt ending when her son becomes emperor. It felt funny having comments like, my eunuch worked for me for another 40 years... Why even bother putting that in if you have a whole other book to talk about those 40 ye...more
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SPOLER ALERT** The ending?!?! 2 26 Mar 23, 2014 10:58AM  
seru, serem, saru 3 53 Dec 26, 2008 10:50PM  
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Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labor collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She moved to the United States in 1984. Her first memoir, Red Azalea, was an international bestseller, published in twenty countries. She has since published six novels, including Pearl of China and the forthc...more
More about Anchee Min...
Red Azalea The Last Empress (Empress Orchid, #2) Pearl of China Becoming Madame Mao Wild Ginger

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“The sun doesn't just hang on one family's tree” 823 likes
“I was happy not to be in his place. He could command my death, but not his. But then, what kind of power was his? He was a prisoner of himself.” 10 likes
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