From the superstition bound peasant villages to the perfumed decadence of the Forbidden City, Manchu China was a land of extremes: barbarism and elegance, poverty and lavish wealth. Its people lived in near enslavement to the emporer.
Then came Hung, a charismatic new leader who promised hope to the masses - an Empire of Heaven on Earth.
But to Rulan, the proud daughter of a village spirit woman, Hung is a frightening stranger whose life she saved with her healing gift on a violent, demon-haunted night. Afire with the rebel cause, Rulan nonetheless hides from Hung's growing obsession with her. She serves as a spy in the house of the great Manchu general Li, where she is nurse to his crafty mother and mistress to the Li heir. And it is there in the enemy stronghold that she meets the captive Pao An, a hothead with a poet's tenderness, who awakens in her a passonate love, and a powerful yearing to be free of both the Manchus and the half-mad Hung - free to creater her own future
This is an epic about Rulan and 19th century Manchu China. I love epics but they do take a while to read. Rulan was a healer, spy, concubine and warrior. She is a very strong woman in a society of dolls. This book showed the barbarism,class structure, wealth and foibles of China. It is also a love story between an ordinary man and woman. One negative would be how mature Rulan seems at the age of thirteen. Can a teen really be that with it? This book not only provided a good story but a great history lesson as well