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The Embers of Heaven

The Embers of Heaven [Kindle Edition]

Alma Alexander
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description


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

Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 558 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (8 Jun. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007204078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007204076
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #539,782 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This novel is the sequel to the utterly wonderful 'The Secrets of Jin-Shei' (which has to be read first - otherwise parts of this book won't make much sense). It is a very different book, however, as it takes place many years later, during the Communist revolution.

This novel captures the horror of the revolution, and what the destruction of history really meant. The sadness of losing traditions and buildings that had lasted for many thousands of years is perfectly evoked, as is the climate of fear that sprung up, where even your own family might be the enemy. The fanaticism that gripped many young people is also made frighteningly real.

Taken as a stand alone novel, this is an excellent book, but it is so closely linked with 'The Secrets of Jin-shei' that the relationship between the two novels is vital. It is in this that I felt the book was a little lacking. The link feels a bit shoehorned in, through dreams and visions that don't really ring true, and the fact that Amais is a many times descendant of Tai.

I can't help but feel that this book would have been better if it had focused less on this. There are so many interesting characters and relationships in this book, which I felt were not properly explored, due to the need to focus on Amais and her quest for Jin-Shei. Also, I found the fact that much of Amais's actions were dictated by mystical forces a bit irritating - there appeared to be no genuine motivation for some of the things she did, and that made her less interesting as a character.

On the whole, it is easy to criticise this book while comparing it to the sublime 'The Secrets of Jin-Shei' - a comparison that has to be made, as the book itself invites it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sequel to Jin-Shei 13 Dec. 2006
This book is a good story on its own, but when compared to the secrets Jin-Shei it is half as good. It hasnt got the same warmth as the first book written by Alma Alexandra.

This story is about Amais. The story is 400 years after the lives of Tai and her Jin-Shie Circle; Tai being Amias's many times grand mother.

This story is about a girl who goes in search of the past treasures of Lin-an or old Syai. When she reaches there things dont seem the same as they were told in Tai's Journals. Everything is lost and as she moves on in her quest for the search of people who are still living with the old tradition of Jin-shei she finds herself lost in the poltics of the country and finds herself loosing the treasures that matter to her. The great temple is destroyed including the niche of Nhia.

She falls in love with a leader of the political party and finds their paths are different and they have no future together. He too has feelings for Amais and knows he can never have her. Her mother gets killed by radicals of this group and her sister part of this political group commits suicide. She finds another life with another family. She finds love of a different kind, but still craves for the political leader and goes back to him one last time.

This group are bent on destroying the past and moving onto the new Syai and the NEW CHINA. This is where Amais runs away from Syai to treasure her memories of her Ansectors.

This story is interesting and flows well. It is worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Embers of Heaven 18 Dec. 2006
By claire
When I saw this book in the bookstore, I picked it up without so much as reading the blurb, its prequel "Secrets of Jin-Shei" is so wonderful.

I think because my expectations were so high, I was bound to end up a little disappointed- The Embers of Heaven is a good book, but for me, not as touching or captivating as I was hoping it might be. Perhaps coming to the book without having read "..Jin-Shei" would have given me a more objective view.

The characters are well developed, the descriptive writing is beautiful. The revolution that occurs in the storyline is very similiar to Chairman Mao's rule in China; it is realistic and powerfully portrayed. The demise of the temples and heritage from the "...Jin-Shei" era was heartbreaking.

The story's premise is actually quite seperate from "..Jin-Shei", as its set 400 years on and I agree with a previous reviewer who commented that the book may have been better if it has focused less on the link with its predecessor.

Certainly don't buy the book expecting the same mysticism and beauty that "...Jin-Shei" evoked, but equally don't let it put you off buying it as it is still a powerful, enjoyable read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not nearly as good as Secrets of Jin Shei 4 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as it was billed as a sequel to Secrets of Jin Shei, which I loved. I was very disappointed, however, because this book is not nearly as well written or engrossing. The book begins slowly and fails to pick up, and I found it a hard slog to turn the pages. Eventually, I gave up about a quarter of the way through the book. There was none of the involving story line or compelling characters that I was expecting, having read Alma Alexander's earlier offering.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as 'Jin Shei' 7 Mar. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For me this does not quite work. It took me almost half way before I realised this was set in the early 20th century and not the Middle Ages and despite the Author's disclaimer this is very much based on China. Whereas the mysticism in 'Jin Shei' worked I found the dream sequences difficult to follow and overlong. Without a shadow of a doubt Alma Alexander is an interesting individual and a first class writer.
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