Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Empress of Bright Moon by Weina Dai Randel

Mei, now a part of the Inner Court, watches as the Emperor Taizhong dies. With Pheasant by her side, Mei is looking forward to her future. But Mei is sent to an outpost monastary as the former emperor's concubine, where she lives in poverty. Once again summoned to the Inner Court, Mei is happy to be back at Pheasant's side. But life will be hard, as Phesant's first wife refuses to allow Mei any happiness. The two women fight for the future- of their children, their happiness and of China. 

The action in the second book of this duology really picks up. Mei really shines in this one as a powerful wife and mother. I really enjoyed her relationship with the Princess, but I wish that Pheasant could have been a stronger force. Some of the scenes in this book are tough to read; be prepared for heartbreak. I did like how Weina re-imagined the way history has portrayed Mei, especially in one poignant scene. This series was one of my favorite reads!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel

Mei's future begins with a prophecy that is followed by tragedies. Foretold to be a powerful woman, mother to emperors and an emperor herself, her father teaches her in many subjects. But his death leads her to the Court of Emperor Taizong. There, Mei struggles to become the Emperor's Most Adored Concubine to help her mother. But she struggles to be noticed in a world dominated by scheming women. Mei is noticed by one person, Pheasant, who turns out to be Emperor Taizong's son. Life is hard, but Mei must persevere.

The first part of this duology sets the the stage for an epic story. Mei is a wonderful narrarator, but young. She is trusting, selfless and brave. But she must learn to be cunning. As life gets harder as she gets older, the reader comes to love her. The politics of the Inner Court are thick, deep and maddening. There are multiple adversaries and really only one friendly lady, so the reader feels Mei's loneliness. The love affair with Pheasant turns out to be pleasant, but makes things fraught. The book is amazing and was nominated for multiple awards. It was one of my favorite books of 2016.