I’m stressed. Seriously. 900 pages with tiny font? This is like 1200 pages on a normal sized font. And it’s not that I don’t like long books. I love tI’m stressed. Seriously. 900 pages with tiny font? This is like 1200 pages on a normal sized font. And it’s not that I don’t like long books. I love them. I sometimes read 3 books in a row from the same series. The problem is that I think this book could (should) have been written in half the words. Or less. Because there is not that much happening here.
Negative side: All the long extensive detailed descriptions, the long moments when characters remember something from the past or get transfixed by a flute or some stars, or something, and every single scene loses momentum to a turtle pace. So slow. There are a lot of characters. But out of the main ones: the Emperor, the Consort, the eunuch, Yang, An and Li, at least three of those are basically passive. Because the Emperor is old and tired and don’t want to worry about ruling anymore. And the consort seems to have been one of the beauties of old China and her role falls down to be entertaining. And the eunuch is mostly the chief of eunuchs, the secretary? coordinator? his confident, his friend. But he is just there observing most of the time. Yang, An and Li provide the action. But as I said, all told, this story at its core was pretty short.
Positive points: I like that this is based on historical facts. These people did live. And it is very interesting to learn about a country and period that I know very little about. I don’t recommend going to wikipedia not even after 700 pages like I did lol I like that the authors don’t insist on making us learn a trillion of unfamiliar names. They refer to many people simply as Cousin, or Poet, or Middle Sister for instance. And it feels natural. We learn the names later but there is no hurry from page one. The book has loads of eroticism. And some great scenes like the Poet's sadness after the death of his friend the Magistrate when he denies it and keeps bringing food for his friend. There is a pitch of magic as well. This is China after all.
This is a tale of love, friendship, treason. Overall I’ve liked it but I’ve kept counting the pages left and that’s not a good sign for me. 3.5 ...more