The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel : Book Review

2l9js7kStoryline Rating : 5/5 stars

Series : Book 1 of Empress of Bright Moon

Brief Summary from Goodreads :

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 others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.

My Point of View :

I finally found a book that tells the tale of a famous Chinese historical figure that resembles Empress Orchid by Anchee Min. I have read and reviewed that book a couple of years ago, and have been searching for something similar. I came across this book when I was voting for Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 and I am really glad I did.

While Empress Orchid by Anchee Min is about Empress Cixi – a famous female historical figure in China, The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel is about Empress Wu – the only Empress regnant of China. As I have watched Empress of China (a China drama) recently, I was really into Empress Wu’s history and I was excited to see how Weina Dai Randel portray Empress Wu. How could I not when every time I think about Empress Wu’s history, I have Fan BingBing’s (a well-known Chinese actress in case you don’t know) face seared into my memory as Empress Wu in the China drama, Empress of China. Yes, I know the real empress does not look like her, but still…..look at this poster of the drama….


So…..I am happy to say I was not disappointed! Once I have started reading the book, I could not put it down. I started the second book almost immediately after I finished the first, burning with the desire of knowing what would happen to Mei (future Empress Wu’s name in this book) next. This book is basically Part One to Mei’s life – how she entered the palace, facing the realities of a palace life, meeting Emperor Taizong and also Pheasant (the would-be Emperor Gaozong).

Mei was somewhat naive and innocent when she entered the palace, but that somewhat changed as the story progresses. If you have some knowledge of Empress Wu’s history, you would expect Mei to change into a somewhat jaded character or a character that wants revenge, but surprisingly Mei never really lost her innocence, even after what she have been through by the end of the story. I mean, Mei still feels guilty, retains her kindness, ability to love and also to somewhat forgive. Something that I wasn’t expecting, so I guess I kind of love she’s not evil (as how history indicated). I also love her and Pheasant’s relationship – which was really the main thing that kept me reading because I could not help but wonder what will happen to their relationship! Yes….I do know they will end up together based on history……still I really love to read how they develop their relationship (fictional or not).

Overall, it’s an awesome book if you are intrigue by Chinese history (and especially the romanticize version of it). However, if you prefer historical fiction that follows the history closely like Empress Orchid by Anchee Min, then you might not like The Moon in the Palace as much because it does not really follow the history.

Favorite Quote : None from this book.


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