Praise for ‘The Embers of Heaven’:
‘A magical tale with strong mystical elements.’
‘An intense, beautifully told tale…a rare treat.’
Praise for Alma Alexander and her books:
‘“The Secrets of Jin-Shei” is a completely original – and a completely magical piece of literature.' Joanne Harris
'It's a beguiling notion, a secret sisterhood with its own language, enhanced by a setting in medieval China, replete with tradition, conflict and drama…the unique structure brings together a rich cast. The complex plot touches on astrology and alchemy, Taoism and concubines, and an attempt to hold power within a society fraught with intrigue…it is extraordinarily accomplished.' Financial Times
'The story is founded on the special friendships that exist among women. The strength of those friendships is the magic that winds through this tale…the device of a written language known only to women is a lovely metaphor…this is a book that will speak to many.' Robin Hobb
'In this magical novel, Alexander vividly recreates a world of Cloud Empresses, alchemists and beggar kings, but more importantly, she also gives us a group of utterly convincing and sympathetic characters, who linger in the memory long after the epic story has been told…exciting, moving and unforgettable…strongly recommended.' Image
'Beautifully written, with rich characterisation and captivating originality, it quickly draws you in and is a real page-turner.' Glasgow Evening Times
'The Last Samurai has nothing on this complex adventure.' Belfast Telegraph
Perfect for fans of Memoirs of a Geisha and Empress Orchid – ‘The Embers of Heaven’ is a magical epic, with delightful characters, an intriguing scenario and a real feeling of place and history. It has a wonderful combination of character, romantic lives, and spiritual quest, set against a credible historical background.
In ‘The Secrets of Jin-Shei,’ eight women pledge themselves as sisters in the name of jin-shei, the unbreakable bond, the promise that lasts a lifetime. This sisterhood shapes their lives, their country and their world. ‘The Embers of Heaven’ begins four hundred years later. In eighteenth-century Syai, and its capital city of Linh-an, things have changed beyond recognition.
On the face of it, women are more equal than they have ever been. But the men run the machines, the factories, and the technology. Women have lost the ability to weave their fates and influence the course of events. The foundation of an empire once rested on jin-shei and its customs. It connected women from every walk of life and formed a bond that empowered every woman who swore the oath. The advancement of printing, the developments of technology and the changes in society seem to have improved the daily lives of the underclass, but women have been stripped of this sacred pact.
Amais is heir to her poet-ancestress's manuscripts and journals. The journals are all in jin-ashu, the women's tongue, taught sketchily to Amais by her mother. Amais has the clear vision of an outsider looking in. Combined with her deep and instinctive bond to her ancestors and her culture, she determines to reinvent the Women's Country and bring the jin-shei back. But just as her crusade begins, she and her family are caught up in the whirlwind of the Golden Rising – a people's revolution that is fated to destroy much that was once valuable, gracious and beautiful.