The setting is China's Forbidden City in the last days of its imperial glory, a vast complex of palaces and gardens run by thousands of eunuchs and encircled by a wall in the center of Peking. In this highly ordered place -- tradition-bound, ruled by strict etiquette, rife with political and erotic tension -- the Emperor, "the Son of Heaven," performs two duties: To achieve the latter, tradition provides a stupendous hierarchy of hundreds of wives and concubines.
It is written in first person and is a sympathetic account of the life of Empress Dowager Cixi - from her humble beginnings to her rise as the Empress Dowager.
Names within the story are different in spelling but retain the same pronunciation - allowing the reader to identify each relevant character to his or her real life counterpart. Plot summary[ edit ] The novel follows the life of a young Manchu girl named Orchid Yehonala.
The story begins with the death of her father who was once a governor of Wuhu. His death left Orchid, her two siblings and her mother in poverty.
His family travel to his birthplace Peking with his coffin for burial. Once in Peking, they move in with a distant uncle and his mentally retarded and opium addicted son Ping also known as 'Bottle'. Orchid gets a chance to better her life when Emperor Hsien Feng issues a decree stating that he is looking for "future mates".
Orchid is eligible because she is Manchu and that her father was the rank of "Blue Bannerman". She is chosen as the Imperial consort of the fourth rank. Her official title is Lady of the Greatest Virtue.
There are a total of 7 Imperial consorts, and over concubines within the Forbidden City. Nuharoo is pronounced Empress, ranking her first out of the 7 Imperial consorts. Once in the Forbidden CityOrchid befriends a eunuch called An-te-haiwho is assigned as her servant along with numerous other eunuchs and maids.
A friendship begins to form between the two, and she appoints him as her first attendant. As the months pass, Orchid becomes more desperate.
The official duty of an Imperial consort is to sleep with the Emperor and produce male heirs, but Orchid has yet to be summoned. Without completing that duty, an Imperial consort risks being unacknowledged for the remainder of her life.
Her tactic works and she soon becomes the Emperor's favourite consort. During her time as the favourite, Orchid learns more about the current history of China, and the inner workings of the Forbidden City. Later on within the story, Orchid becomes pregnant. She gives birth to the Emperor's first male heir Tung Chih amidst nationwide celebration.
However, after the birth of his son Emperor Hsien Feng begins to lose interest in Orchid. Part of this is due to Nuharoo's plot to disrupt Orchid's life.
The emperor becomes ill as political situations in China worsen. Foreign powers are beginning to invade China, demanding that the emperor grants them the right to establish trade and port. The weak emperor is unable to defend his empire from the combined strength of the intruding forces and the royal family flees the capital when the enemies approach Peking.
Emperor Hsien Feng dies whilst in exile.
Nonetheless, Orchid's life is still in danger from Su Shun a corrupt official as the Emperor has not yet named an heir.Empress Orchid is the first book in a duology which follows Orchid Yehonala, or better known as Empress Dowager Cixi. In this first book we see her life as a young and poor Manchu girl, and how she decides to compete to become one of the Emperor's wives/5.
Buy a cheap copy of Empress Orchid book by Anchee Min. From a master of the historical novel, Empress Orchid sweeps readers into the heart of the Forbidden City to tell the fascinating story of a young concubine who Free shipping over $ Anchee Min's Orchid demonstrates persistence in fighting for her son's power (and thus her own as well).
She is not portrayed as a sharp political operator, but rather a somewhat reluctant one. While this book was enjoyable and interesting in its own right, it mainly serves to set the table for the main course, the story of the long reign of the dowager empress which Min continues in The Last Empress: A Novel/5(89).
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min pp, Bloomsbury, £ Cixi, the last empress of China from to , is one of those historical figures people love to be nasty about.
Free download or read online Empress Orchid pdf (ePUB) book.
The first edition of this novel was published in , and was written by Anchee Min. The book was published in multiple languages including English language, consists of pages and is available in Paperback format/5(K).
Book Summary. Empress Orchid sweeps readers into the heart of the Forbidden City to tell the fascinating story of a young concubine who becomes China's last empress.
Min introduces the beautiful Tzu Hsi, known as Orchid, and weaves an epic tale about the country girl who seized power through seduction, murder, and endless intrigue.