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The Moon in the Palace

(Empress of Bright Moon #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,675 ratings  ·  517 reviews
There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power. . . .

A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while o
Paperback, 395 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark
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Ela Since the author describes the life of a concubine-turned-Empress, the books naturally do contain references to sexual relations and to human anatomy …moreSince the author describes the life of a concubine-turned-Empress, the books naturally do contain references to sexual relations and to human anatomy ;). However, all those descriptions are rather vague and the books are nowhere near the realm of erotica.

In addition to references to both consensual and non-consensual sex, the books contain several rather gruesome, bloody scenes and descriptions of torture. I can recommend The Empress of Bright Moon 1-2 as a worthy read but if you are sensitive to the aforementioned content, I would advice you to skip this one... Hope this helped!(less)

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Jun 14, 2015 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Ten years of writing.
Eighty-two rejection letters.
Two years of waiting to publication.

Here she comes,
from the bottom of my heart.
Angela M
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it

I didn't know anything about the history of 7th century China but was intrigued from the beginning with Mei and her story . The author successfully transported me there and for two days I found it difficult to come back . I was intrigued by the emperor and by the complex political atmosphere of the palace as well as the fierce competition among the women and girls wanting to be "the Most Adored" of the Emperor, as they fall in and out of favor by deceit and lies. The hierarchy of concubines, the
Jeannie Lin
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book to pieces. All my favorite things -- romance, intrigue, and rich, vivid historical detail. And a glimpse of the complicated hierarchy of power in the imperial palace. It reminded me of the Hong Kong serials I watched about Empress Wu and Princess Taiping when I was young. *happy sigh*
*Thea 'Wookiee'sMama' Wilson*
Before I start this review I want to say that this book, and it's sequel, and the most incredible and stunning books of this kind that I have ever read. They tell a story I didn't know and had never heard of and that made reading these books a sheer joy and ultimate pleasure.

The book tells the beginning of the life of Empress Wu, during the Tang Dynasty, when she first joins the palace women under the name of Mei and begins a life she could never have dreamed of and would maybe have horrified he
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars! Imperial China, courtesans, political intrigue, poisoning, double crossings, secret alliances, beheading, rebellions, jade and jewels, silkworms,prophecies, romance and destiny.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

Prior to reading this, I did not know that much about China’s 7th century dynasty history, or anything of Empress Wu. The history revealed in the novel was fascinating and led me down numerous rabbit holes with Google searches and Wikipedia. The author’s writing style was enjoyable and I look forward to reading the rest of her series.
Favorite Quote: To grow up was also to give up, and to build the future was to dissolv
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
But I understood it now. Somehow, sometime in our lives, we all needed to find a path through the clouds of our destinies and walk down, Alone."

"I knew now: love and destiny were two wild horses that could not be curbed. They galloped in different directions and ran down different paths where streams of desire and hope would not converge. To follow one was to betray the other. To make one happy was to break the other's heart. Yet I supposed that was part of life, a lesson we had to learn. To gr
Minni Mouse
I picked this book up because Kate Quinn gave this a four-star review and we all know Kate Quinn is queen of historical fictions. Oh, and China. Whaddup, my people.

This story spans nine years so there's a lot of development in Mei's initial status from an initial Select concubine to her eventual one-step-away-from-Most-Adored status. Good for you, homegirl.

And Pheasant. Good for you, sweet face.

Bad book chemistry, perhaps? The narrative wasn't nearly as flat as The Course o
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How gorgeous is that cover? Honestly, even if the book hadn’t been about Wu Zetian, I would have picked up this book based on the cover alone.

But thankfully the book is also very good. I really enjoyed the story that Randel told here. She did a great job of creating the character of Wu Zetian, especially the young woman we don’t really know much about. Wu is often portrayed as a villainess in history, but here, she is a sympathetic protagonist. Randel did a great job humanizing the character of
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I adored this novel of ancient China in the same way I loved Anita Diamond's The Red Tent, both for the evocative language and the story of a time when lovers and wives were sisters, and jealousies and scheming were rampant. Even when women had few rights—I would not want to be one of them!—this story shows its female characters were not powerless, and somehow found the inner strength to improve their lot in life. The book has left me thinking about marrying for love vs marrying for influence, a ...more
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mei - She begins the book as a child, and by the end of it, she has blossomed into a courageous, captivating woman who stays true to her heart, and her loyalties take her beyond her own expectations. She was truly mesmerizing.

Pheasant - His gentleness, and kindheartedness circled my heart like a ray of sunshine. He's a man of honor and distinction. I look forward to reading more about him in the next novel.

The other characters were very well developed. Some I loved, and others I loved to hate, a
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew nothing about 7th Century China. This story begins when a prediction is made that a 5 yr old girl will one day rule China. This novel brings us to the early years of Empress WU.
This book was an eye opener. I love to read about things I do not know. It was very interesting how the women in this novel had to compete to be the best. The competition to be the Most Adorned was fierce. I loved the characters of Mei and Pheasant and look forward to seeing what happens next This book is rich in h
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was everything I expected. It lyrically portrays all the violence and beauty of one of China’s most cosmopolitan eras. I enjoyed the inclusion of harem politics and plots. While this is a fictional account, I am sure many similar events happened. It is about duty, friendship, love, loyalty, choices, loss, and sacrifices. This novel is about a woman who is searching to find her happiness. Full of court intrigue, action, danger, and a forbidden romance. Moon in the Palace left me breathl ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Moon in the Palace was a fascinating journey through part of Chinese history I knew nothing about. Weina Dai Randel knows how to plot a story--I couldn't put the novel down. Each new chapter kept me guessing what would happen next. The novel is rich with complex characters, historical detail, and poetic imagery. I especially enjoyed the intrigue at the palace, where the novel is set. I can't wait to read the second novel in the series, The Empress of Bright Moon! ...more
Ariana Fae
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
The MOON IN THE PALACE was reminiscent of the tale CINDERELLA but with an Asian twist and more conniving women in it. Weina Dai Randel creates a captivating story about the rise of the young Empress Wu, known as Mei in this book, and her struggles in the ruthless court of Emperor Taizing of the Tang Dynasty.

I loved how Randel showed Mei’s determination and battle against impossible odds to achieve her dream. The author did a wonderful job of keeping my interest with Mei having her wish just a g
Kate Forsyth
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
I met Weina Dai Randel when I was in the US earlier this year, attending the Historical Novel Society conference in Portland. A gorgeous cover and intriguing premise worked their usual powerful force on me, and I added her novel The Moon in the Palace to the great pile of books I had to lug home.

The story begins when a Buddhist monk predicts that a five-year-old girl named Mei would one day be the mother of emperors and reign over the kingdom of China. From that moment, Mei’s father began to plo
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this one. It was hard to put down. This first book of the only woman ruler of China, Empress Wu, deals with the early years of her life in the palace before she was the empress. The palace politics, with successes and downfalls of the women and others surrounding the emperor, was fascinating. I love historical fiction especially when it deals with areas that I know little to nothing about. There were similarities to Memoirs of a Geisha in regards to women trying to make a better ...more
Stephanie Thornton
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love books that dust off the lives of history's forgotten women, so I thoroughly enjoyed Weina Dai Randel's take on Empress Wu's early years. The ten years spent writing The Moon in the Palace show in all the tiny details that whisk the reader back to the Tang Dynasty: scenes set in the silkworm workshop, Mei's trek to a Buddhist monastery, and a behind the scenes glimpse at the cutthroat political machinations of the Emperor's concubines. The love story between Mei and Pheasant sets the stage ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
In an interview at the end of this novelization of the early life of ancient Chinese Empress Wu (AD 624-705), the author notes that in reaction against Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood amongst Ghosts, she decided to tell stories about "Chinese women who succeeded in controlling their destinies." Though Wu is noted for being the only woman to be given the title "emperor" of China, her early days as fictionalized by Randel (and no doubt in actual life, too) do not sh ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
The book was in writing for 10 years.

Now keep that in mind, the author needed 10 years of research to write this and 2 years to get it published.

I don't even know what to say...

At first, not knowing who the character was supposed to be historically i thought it was an Alice in wonderland type of tale where the flat and lifeless character is there just so you can see the world through her eyes.

But there is very very VERY little world building here, even I can tell you that in the tang dynasty
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The Moon in the Palace" is the story of Mei, a concubine of the Chinese Emperor. This is the first book in a duology that takes readers back to ancient China. When Mei comes to court, she finds herself in stiff competition for the Emperor's affections. She really has no idea what she is doing and the way that she captures his attention is unlike any other concubine. This book explores the gilded court life and Mei's fascinating life at the center of it!

This book is so filled with court intrigue
Kathy Chung
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i stumbled upon this book while reading The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. i was hunting for another book that was mentioned there when i found The Moon in the Palace.

From the first page onwards, i was hooked. i have read books about Empress Wu and there are many version of her. But in this book she was the same and yet different. Here she is so innocent even though hhave been in Court for 5 years.

i love the story of her and Pheasant. It was very moving. Here their love was vety much alive and
Dianna Rostad
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First book in the epic tale of Empress Wu's younger years and her rise to become the first female ruler of China. Filled with court intrigue and the politics of palace. If you enjoy the Tudors, you'll love this Chinese icon. ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 7th Century Chinese court, concubine Mei has no idea how to draw the interest of the all powerful Emperor. Other girls ply him with expensive gifts, wear exotic scents, make art, and make themselves up to be especially alluring. Mei has no clue about how to do any of these things and she is an outcast among the concubines.

However, she is highly successful in gaining the Emperor's attention and admiration simply by being herself - an intelligent woman in pursuit of continuing knowledge. These
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning. Beautiful. I'm crying. I'm cheering. It's too much. I need some wine. ...more
Mei Wu is destined for greatness. Dressed as a boy as a child, in part to protect her from marauders as well as for her father's freedom to educate her, Mei's future is foretold by a confused Buddhist monk.

It is a pity that the child is a boy, he says. "If the child were a girl"..., he predicts, ...."she would mother the emperors of the land but also be emperor in her own name.... There would be none before her and none after."

So begins the elaborate, fascinating story of the early life of the
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Moon in the Palace is a definite page turner. This is the first time in a very, very long time that I became so completely hooked on a book, I often found myself reading for hours and losing track of time. Few books are able to do that for me, but The Moon in the Palace definitely did not disappoint.

I am fascinated by Wuzetain, the one and only empress of China, and have always been amazed (and frightened) of her reputation and rule. In this tale, the author shows us a different perspective
Jocelyn Eikenburg
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china, cultural
I adore “Cinderella stories”.

Nonfiction or fiction, it doesn’t matter. As long as the story features a strong, intelligent woman who rises from unlikely circumstances and has to fight her way up, I’m all in. Especially if she ends up saving herself and the guy too.

That’s why I’m a huge fan of The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.

It’s about the rise of the young Empress Wu – before she became the Empress – and truly reads like a Tang Dynasty era Cinderella story, with everything you’d expec
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a historical fiction novel that tells the tale of Empress Wu, a real-life women who was the first and last women to rule China.
The book shows the intricate spider web that is court life. Dazzling, sticky, beautiful, but get too close, cause a disturbance, and the spider appears.

It's a book that shows how Mei must grow and adapt to this lifestyle. A lifestyle where your life depends on how you appear, what you say, when you say it, where you look, what you think, how you act. It's a
Nadine Jones
I often thought of that night as the night my life was forever altered, and I also realized I was a terrible student. I had memorized Sun Tzu’s lines of how to succeed in the Nine Situations, how to attack by fire and water, how to cultivate tactical dispositions, and how to use spies to excavate the enemy’s deep secrets. But I had failed, tragically, to understand myself.

I expected this to be a historical romance, loosely based on actual historical events, but it is actually historical fict
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Weina Dai Randel is the award-winning author of two historical novels, The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon, historical novel series about Empress Wu (Wu Zetian), China's only female emperor. The Moon in the Palace won the RWA RITA® Award in 2017, was nominated by Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Historical Fiction, nominated by RT Book Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Histor ...more

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Empress of Bright Moon (2 books)
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