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The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  261 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Northern China, 1899. As the Boxer Rebellion erupts, a cast of innocents, fanatics, sinners, and lovers are drawn to the Palace of Heavenly Pleasure - an infamous brothel that overlooks an execution ground - where the fury of the East will meet the ideals of the West and all will face their destiny. Adam Williams's first novel is a historical tour-de-force and a triumphant ...more
ebook, 640 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2003)
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Naomi Styles
Jun 22, 2011 Naomi Styles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh what a monumental book. If you're finding it hard to get into why not jump about 100 pages in and start from there (oh how dare i say it but hey just do it - it is a bit slow to start, and the beginning pages make more sense when read in hindsight). meanwhile GOSH. Adam has nothing against being bloodthirsty. if you think the sweet and innocent will get away with it think again. It's a massive book with huge scope - covering not just a historical adventure and raunchy romance, but also themes ...more
Jan 12, 2008 Jennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about the Boxer Rebellion from this book - very interesting cast of characters too.
My friend and I found this book in the big BookOff store in Shibuya and the title made me laugh, but when I saw that it was the name of a brothel, I had to have it. (It was 200 yen only.)

So, it turned out to be as cheesy as we expected, but it wasn't bad, it held my attention for more than 600 pages. It's a historical romance which takes place in a fictitious town of Shishan in 1899, during the Boxer Rebellion. The author was born in China in a missionary family, so he knows his stuff, and his s
Edward S. Portman
May 29, 2014 Edward S. Portman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ci sono libri che finiscono negli scaffali della tua libreria senza un apparente motivo. Lo fanno di nascosto, in silenzio, e quando te ne accorgi, il giorno che li vedi lì belli pomposi nella loro posizione ormai guadagnata da tempo, non ti ricordi neppure per quale motivo siano arrivati. È il caso di questo Il palazzo dei piaceri celesti dalle considerevoli dimensioni molto simili a quelle di un mattone in terracotta: non ricordo come mai lo comprai, se ne avessi letto chissà quale recensione ...more
Svetlina Georgieva
One of my favourite books!
Floriana Amoruso
Primo consiglio in assoluto, se decidete di leggere questo romanzo, armatevi di passione e tanta tanta pazienza, perché scrivo questo. Il Palazzo dei Piaceri Celesti è un libro lunghissimo dove tra passioni, sentimenti e molta crudeltà si entra in una fase storica intensa. Quando ho cominciato a leggerlo la prima impressione è stata: "questo romanzo non mi piace", troppe descrizioni, troppi discorsi, lunghi e a volte noiosi, ma proseguendo al lettura ho notato che nonostante ciò, volevo conoscer ...more
Michael O'Donnell
An OK read. Spoiler alert.

Boxer history is pretty accurate for a western perspective. Repatriation 450,000,000 taels of fine silver (540,000,000 troy ounces (17,000 t) @ 1.2 ozt/tael). China paid 668,661,220 taels of silver from 1901 to 1939, equivalent in 2010 to US$61 billion.

Chinese inscrutability embraced.

S&M porn was harsh.

Mongolia was mystical bullshit.

Has many 'Mills and Boon' romance moments.

Still... Scotland the Brave.

Richard Simpson
Aug 03, 2014 Richard Simpson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this quite some time ago, but the memory of the experience is still fresh. Middlebrow historical adventure fiction is not a genre I usually indulge, but the narrative is riveting, and descriptions of Chinese society around the Boxer Rebellion which define a medieval people is absolutely believable. A primeval and ominous xenophobia builds up and is spurred on by foreign presence in China until we are left with an epic clash. Great reading and will look for titles by the same author.
A Girl Has No Name
May 09, 2014 A Girl Has No Name rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, historical
Eine abenteuerliche Reise nach China! Dieses Buch erzählt die Erfahrungen der ausländischen Gemeinschaft in Shishan zur Zeit der Boxeraufstände im Jahr 1900! Die zahlreichen Perspektivwechsel, die fliessenden Grenzen zwischen Gut und Böse und die unerwarteten Wendungen und Verluste lassen die Leser mitfiebern. 4 Sterne!
Jun 11, 2012 Anya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though it was very interesting to read about the uprising of the Boxers in 1900 China, and even though it was horrible in a magnificent kind of way to see executions described in such a "sèc" way, I felt the book lacked a spine (excuse the word play). It was interesting, but not nearly interesting enough to make me want to recommend this book to friends. The last 2 chapters felt weird too. Almost as if an extra ending had been made up just to give the readers what they really wanted: a happy end ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Ara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excelent book! This is a must!
This one caught my eye on the shelf at the library. I selected it mostly because it was set during the Boxer Rebellion, about which I knew very little and was curious. I did learn about the outlines of the Boxer Rebellion (who was involved, what the motivations were, what generally happened, etc.), so in that sense I got what I wanted to out of the book.

As a novel, it was fairly so-so. Good enough to keep me reading for about 650 pages, which I guess is saying something. But nothing spectacular,
Lots of pages. First half good. Second half, upto the train journey was good. But.... there were a few plot holes kicking around the train journey that allows the escape from the town, and the death right at the end was in my view gratuitous and convenient. However, the Mongolian episode was a lovely piece of writing and allowed a sense of healing after the guilt, destruction and foolishness of the train. Worth reading, if only to get a sense of how ordinary individuals were caught up in the mad ...more
Jun 02, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enlightening book that was a step beyond my normal sphere of crime fiction. It was quite a hard read at times, but when there was some action, the pace quickened for me, which I like about a book.

For anyone who loves history and/or who likes descriptive narrative, this is a must. Whilst it took me a long time to read, it was a heck of a lot shorter thatn the five years it took to write!

I also have The Emperor's Bones by Adam Williams, so I will look forward to this in due course.
Ian Caithness
Adam Williams write a long and epic novel that seeks to bring together the political climate of Chinese dynasties and the religious conflict between Christian missionaries and Far Eastern religions. Williams' character development is strong and powerful, however, the story merely plods along at an agonising pace and could be shortened. It is, on occasion, a thrilling and exciting novel and certainly creates a vivid image of Chinese civilisations from a Christian ethics perspective.
Mani Maniparathy
Fascinating story of a young English woman in the midst competing alien political and military forces in late 1800 China. Book reveal itself like a movie, each chapter a scene. Learned a lot of China before people revolution.
A long and historical story of people caught in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1899. Quite informative on the time period and presented some fascinating characters, and horrific scenes. Filled with long dialogues, though, that got draggy, but all in all a good read.
Sep 07, 2012 Gail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well after reading this book I still think of one of the scenes. If you read it you willknow which one. Well written, reminded me of Taipan and Shogun. Enjoy.
Dec 25, 2010 Marjan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good read !
The story flows seamlessly as it describes life at the turn of the 20th century in China.
I didn't get bored anywhere !
Cindy Bergeron
Aug 28, 2016 Cindy Bergeron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very exciting, especially at the end. It was very interesting learning about the Boxer Rebellion.
Jan 21, 2015 Paola rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rappresenta benissimo l'inutilità del leggerlo.
Torna al riciclo, da donde viene.
Love long, epic, historical novels. This is one of my favorites.
Joan Carmichael
Great, action packed, shocking and hard to put down!!
Luwejn marked it as to-read
Aug 12, 2016
Clare Smith
Clare Smith rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2016
Marijke rated it it was ok
Jul 31, 2016
Carol marked it as to-read
Jul 12, 2016
Andrei marked it as to-read
Jul 07, 2016
Jody rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2016
Thuy Do
Thuy Do marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2016
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The son of a Hong Kong Taipan, Adam Williams was born and raised in Asia, though educated in the United Kingdom. His family has been in China since the 1880s and he has fulfilled his destiny by joining Jardine Matheson and rising to head its operations in China as well as those of Jardine Fleming. He has undertaken an expedition by camel into the heart of the Taklamaken Desert to seek the lost cit ...more
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