A story full of deceit, murder, romance and amazing details of life in the 7th century in the imperial palace. It explores the early years of Empress Wu, the only female ruler of China.  The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel

The Moon in the Palace

By Weina Dai Randel


Critical Praise:


“The Moon in the Palace depicts Empress Wu’s sharp, persistent spirit but does not neglect to make her believably naive and vulnerable, an untried girl among ruthless women. The intrigue and machinations of the imperial court come to life under her hand, a vast and dangerous engine with each piece moving for its own reasons.” - Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

“The real triumph of The Moon in the Palace is how Randel succeeds in showing court politics exclusively through female eyes, and how every decision and subsequent action, success, and failure are skillfully plotted like a chess match by the palace women… Magical.” - Washington Independent Review of Books
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*Discussion Questions



1. How much do you know about the palace women in ancient China before you read this novel? In what ways do you think the palace women in China were similar to those in Europe? In what ways they were different?

2. The novel opens with the monk’s prediction of Mei’s destiny. What do you think of Mei’s and Mei’s father’s reaction to the prediction? How would you define the concept of destiny?

3. Discuss the theme of deception. How does the Emperor deceive the kingdom? How does Jewel deceive the Emperor and the other women? How will you relate this to Sun Tzu’s comment that “All warfare is based on the deception,” which Mei was instructed to learn?

4. Discuss the many facades of love in the novel, and how it manifests itself in the following characters: Mei, Pheasant, Jewel, Emperor Taizong, Taizi, and the Noble Lady.

(Discussion Questions by Author)


Book Summary
A RITA Award Winner!
A 2016 RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Nominee for First Historical Romance!

There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power

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. 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.

In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China—where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life or death—and the woman who came to rule it all.

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