The Empress of Bright Moon by Weina Dai Randel
Series: Empress of Bright Moon #2
Paperback, 368 pages
Published 5th April 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: historical fiction
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Synopsis: In the captivating sequel to The Moon in the Palace, Mei must protect her people from a murderous empress
The second book in this stunning duology, The Empress of Bright Moon follows Mei as she struggles for power within the Emperor’s palace, risking her life to dethrone the murderous Empress and establish herself as the new female ruler of China.
After Mei’s lover, Pheasant, is crowned Emperor, a power struggle erupts between Mei and Pheasant’s wife, Empress Wang. Both women are desperate to secure their name and rank. But when Empress Wang takes their feud to a new level by murdering Mei’s supporters, Mei realizes that she must defeat the bloodthirsty Empress—not only to save herself, but also to protect her country.
Overview: As the synopsis says, The Empress of Bright Moon is a captivating sequel to The Moon in the Palace. I was surprised that I enjoyed the sequel a lot more than the first book; I didn’t think it was possible for the author to write a follow-up that was as stunning as The Moon in the Palace. I truly underestimated Weina.
What I loved about the book: Like in The Moon in the Palace, I was once again enchanted by Weina’s writing style. There was so much treachery in this book, and so craftily weaved, that my heart ached and ached as I followed Mei’s story. Every emotion of hers was my own: when her heart soared, so did mine; when her heart wept, mine did too. Weina’s ability to make the reader feel so connected to the protagonist was truly part of why I loved this book so much. The flow of time, which I had trouble with in the previous book, no longer bothered me. I never wanted to put the book down.
Favourite passage: “Let me tell you something.” Gaoyang waved her arms. A breeze swept my face, and she was gone. “Fear,” she said from the pavilion, “is a roof. If you do not break it, you shall not see the sky. My mentor’s words.”
What didn’t work for me in the book: Based on the book’s title alone, I had expected more of the story to be about Mei’s reign as Empress. I was genuinely curious about the author’s take on it. However, pretty much the entirety of the book was dedicated to how Mei ascended the throne, which was still beautifully written despite making the title seem somewhat odd to me.
Conclusion: Read it. Definitely read it! But read The Moon in the Palace first. Due to how this book was written, many things that are brought up would be confusing for the reader if they had missed out on the first book. Sadly, Weina has mentioned that there will not be a third book, which means there won’t be the author’s take on Empress Wu’s reign. This book ends beautifully though, so get the duology already!