Avigail's Reviews > Empress

Empress by Shan Sa
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's review
Aug 23, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, the-book-is-transelated-in-hebrew, contemporary, drama, fiction, i-own, litrature, novel, politics
Read in December, 2011

The strongest aspect of Shan Sa's story line is the sense of loneliness and emotional isolation Wu Ze Tian suffers as Empress. Every day is a struggle to manage her husband (until he dies of illness), dozens of scheming Court officials, and her family members jockeying for their place in the imperial line of succession, not to mention the problems of the Tang empire itself. It is decidedly not, as they say, "good to be the king (or queen, or empress)," since much of that life is a daily battle of wits for survival accompanied by ruinous emotional barrenness.

EMPRESS is an intriguing if somewhat slow-paced read, and it gives a strong sense of a very significant figure in Chinese history (although it regretably does not give the reader much context with respect to the Tang Dynasty in Chinese history and Empress Wu Ze Tian's role therein). Still, as powerful and wealthy as Wu Ze Tian was, Shan Sa conveys the definite sense that her job was at least as much a prison as it was a palace. That alone is a fascinating perspective, one that I have also encountered in Su Tong's recently translated novel, MY LIFE AS EMPEROR - another excellent read for those interested in Chinese history and culture.

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