Set in eighth century China during the T'ang dynasty, this massive historical novel quickly captures the imagination while its accuracy of detail rewards readers interested in the period. In the glittering court of Emperor Minghuang, the death of the young crown prince sets off whispers of murder. On the heels of this tragedy, Minghuang is forced to banish his beloved empress for the crime of dabbling in witchcraft. While the emperor slips into a terrible depression, his sly, deceitful chief minister gathers power. Kao Li-Shih, the sharp-witted chief eunuch, reawakens Minghuang by sending him the beauteous Precious Consort, but love only causes China's ruler to further neglect his duties. Precious Consort's sisters, the Yangs, are a delicious parody of the three graces as they glide through the palace with their bitchy, amusing chatter hiding swift intelligence. As a spirit of decadence takes hold in the court, the Yangs mistakenly champion the barbarian general An Lu-Shan, a laughing trickster who eventually moves to crush the T'ang dynasty despite all that Kao Li-Shih does to stop him. Vivid characters and alluring descriptions make this first novel by a gifted team a triumphant mix of fact and fiction. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989 Release date: 01/01/1989 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.