Skip to main content

Empress Wu: Rise by Jeff Hortman and Andrew Knighton: A Book Review


Empress Wu: Rise
Author: Jeff Hortman, Andrew Knighton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Peachill
Release Date: February 11, 2018
Pages: 206
Source: Publicist in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: In a world of choreographed behavior. A trap of etiquette and standardized rules. In the palace of the most powerful kingdom on Earth. In the midst of this web of constraint and rigid authority, one woman triumphed over centuries of ritual. One Machiavellian courtesan rose above the rules and became the most powerful ruler in the world.

     My Review: This novel chronicles Empress Wu’s rise to becoming the queen consort to Emperor Gaozong. As a young girl, Wu meets a fortune teller that says her destiny is to be a king. Even though this seems like an impossible future, Wu still dreams one day of ruling China. Years later, she is given an opportunity to become the concubine to Emperor Taizong. The position of concubine seems to Wu a life of luxury at the palace. When she arrives at the palace, she realises that she is more of a maid rather than a glamorous concubine. She continues her life at the palace working until Emperor Taizong’s death is near. However, it is when she catches the eye of the crown prince. They both fall in love with each other. When Emperor Taizong dies, Wu is forced to go to the convent. However, the new emperor is determined to bring her back to the palace. With Wu winning the new emperor’s heart, she finds a way to return to the palace and ultimately becoming empress.

     After reading a few historical fiction books on Empress Wu, I was curious to see how they portray her character. She has had a negative reputation throughout history. She has even been accused of killing her own daughter. Thus, I was curious to see how these authors have painted her. When we first meet Wu, she is an innocent but very intelligent girl. She is also dreamy and dreams of a big future. During Emperor Taizong’s reign, she is a concubine of no importance. However, there were some moments where she was cunning and plotted to live a more glamorous lifestyle. Still, this is a very sympathetic take on Empress Wu. The authors show her as a woman who experiences many tragedies and is heartbroken when she loses her loved ones. However, she does not let the tragedies get to her.  She is also shown to have glimpses of arrogance and proves herself to be a capable politician among the male ministers.

     Overall, this novel emphasizes the personal tragedies and obstacles Empress Wu makes as she slowly rises to the throne. Besides Empress Wu, most of the characters were very one-dimensional. After reading this novel, I came away not fully understanding the characters. The novel is very well-written and it made medieval China come alive. The story ended in a cliffhanger, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. I recommend this novel for those who would like to read about Ancient China, strong queens, and political intrigue. Empress Wu: Rise proves that this empress is just as fascinating as Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, and Queen Victoria.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts: A Book Review

Finding Dorothy Author: Elizabeth Letts Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Books Release Date: February 12, 2019 Pages: 352 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Hollywood, 1938: As soon as she learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen, seventy-seven-year-old Maud Gage Baum sets about trying to finagle her way onto the set. Nineteen years after Frank’s passing, Maud is the only person who can help the producers stay true to the spirit of the book—because she’s the only one left who knows its secrets.     But the moment she hears Judy Garland rehearsing the first notes of “Over the Rainbow,” Maud recognizes the yearning that defined her own life story, from her youth as a suffragette’s daughter to her coming of age as one of the first women in the Ivy League, from her blossoming romance with Frank to the hardscrabble prairie years that inspired The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . Judy reminds Maud of a

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to

My Favorite Books of 2021

Looking back at the year 2021, it has been a very hard year especially with the pandemic. Reading a good book is what helps me get through the most difficult times. While I did not read as much this year as I usually do, I still found some gems that a worth a re-read. These books drew me into the past and for a while whisked me away from the realities of 2021. This is the list of my favorite books of the year. Boudica has always been one of my favorite historical figures of the year. I even wrote a history article which you can find here . I can say without a doubt that Melanie Karsak did justice to Boudica's early life. It was  a gripping historical read with raw emotions! I look forward to the next books in the series to see how Queen Boudica is portrayed! Queen Esther's story has always been one of my favorite book in the Bible . When my favorite Christian author writes one of my favorite stories, it becomes a sweet treat! I loved everything about The Star of Persia ! The m