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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Written
This is the follow up story of Empress Orchid and picks up the story as Orchid begins to gain power. It follows her through coaching two new Emperors of China up to the point of her death. At times this book read slightly like a history book, with information dumped on the reader but once you get past that it is a wonderful book that gives the reader and interesting look...
Published on 19 April 2007 by Alexa

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye To All That
Fascinating subject but clunkily written and ponderously repetitive. Nothing flows - the dialogue is glitchy and unreal and the narrative constantly repeats the same thoughts. Perhaps the Empress was incapable of original thought but her life was actually a lot more interesting than found here. I THINK the reader is supposed to empathise with the subject but there is...
Published on 9 July 2008 by Ventris Arden


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Written, 19 April 2007
By 
Alexa (East Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
This is the follow up story of Empress Orchid and picks up the story as Orchid begins to gain power. It follows her through coaching two new Emperors of China up to the point of her death. At times this book read slightly like a history book, with information dumped on the reader but once you get past that it is a wonderful book that gives the reader and interesting look into life within The Forbidden City. It is one of only a few accounts that is sympathetic with Orchid and throughout the book I genuinely felt for the character. While not as good as Empress Orchid and some events seemed twisted so as to make the Empress seem kind and gentle it was still a great book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece from Anchee Min!, 9 Jun 2008
By 
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
It's been a few years since I first read Anchee Min's first book on the life of China's Empress Dowager Tz'u-Hsi which blew me away.
I wasn't even aware that Anchee Min was even working on a second and final instalment of Tz'u-Hsi's life until i was browsing the isles of WHSmiths and came across "The last empress".

I quickly ordered the book from Amazon (much cheeper) and waited impatiently for its arrival.

As soon as "The last empress" arrived I dives straight in and was not dissapointed!

Anchee Min has created another masterpiece which is a must for anybody interested in Tz'u-Hsi, the Manchu dynasty, China or a great story made all the more amazing because it's a true story.

"The last empress" encompasses the later stages of Tz'u-Hsi's life and what are esentially the last years of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty's rule in China.

In the west, the east and even in China itself Tz'u-Hsi has been demonised as "the dragon lady" an evil despot desperate to keep power and China in her hands.

It's wonderfull that Anchee Min has dared to think outside the box and portray Tz'u-Hsi as what she really was, the daughter of an impoverished and disgraced provincial governer who entered the forbidden city as a concubine and left in death as Empress Dowager.

All through the book we see how Tz'u-Hsi fought to save China from the "civilised" west and Japan who systematicaly "raped" China and forced unfair and embarassing treaty after treaty first on Tz'u-Hsi's husband, then her son and finally her nephew (and addopted son).

It disgusted me how the west and Japan took advantage ofChina which didn't want to fight and when it came to the point that they had to were no match for the Iron ships and guns of the west and Japan.

Overall I give this book five stars because I can't give it six.
This book is a masterpiece and along with "Empress Orchid" will hopefully dispell peoples perceptions of Tz'u-Hsi as the evil and tyranical woman who brought the Chinese empire to its knees with her greed and lust for power.

The truth is that the western nations and the newly "modernised" Japanese brought China to its knees and it was only Tz'u-Hsi's strength of character and determination that kept the empire from falling sooner.

In my view Anchee Min has created a lasting and fitting legacy that will in time help to exhonerate the name of possibly the greatest woman China has ever produced, The Empress Dowager Tz'u-Hsi.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye To All That, 9 July 2008
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
Fascinating subject but clunkily written and ponderously repetitive. Nothing flows - the dialogue is glitchy and unreal and the narrative constantly repeats the same thoughts. Perhaps the Empress was incapable of original thought but her life was actually a lot more interesting than found here. I THINK the reader is supposed to empathise with the subject but there is neither sufficient character nor depth of background to make this Empress real. She just plods on, thinking the same old things, doing the same old things, little benefitting China. In the end, you don't care but worth looking up the Empress in the Britannica.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, 20 July 2007
By 
Ms. Zainab Mamujee "book worm" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
The last empress is the single best book to read this year! it carries on The tale of Empress Orchid from the book of the same name, and takes u deeper into the sad history of the Manchu Dynasty and as it crumbles. The politics of The Chinese Empire is discussed alot more in the second book, but it doesnt fail to explore the live of the Empress and the Emperor. Orchid, torn between the good of the Country and the good of her Son makes you believe that she should be the Mother of China. Beautifully written and set in the magnificant Forbidden city amongst the Eunechs and Ladies in waiting the story unfolds as to how women were both the saviors and the fall of the Empire.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Historical Novel....., 20 May 2007
By 
M. Mukhtar "Moazma" (UK, Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
This is the continuation of the Empress Orchid. It takes effect when the Orchid's nephew is seletion as the future Emperor. This book is greatly inspired by the history of previous Chinese Emperors. It is greatly influenced by Empress Wu. Wu being the only Empress to run the Chinese Empire.

This story takes starts from and shows the relationships Orchid builds with her Nephew and her exceptence of him as a son. Her regrets of Tung Chih (her only son who dies) and how this changes the way she treats her nephew. It shows the effects of the relationships she looses in the past be it her husband, her son, her mother, her sister, other concubines, her precious Eunch and Nuharoo (the joint Empress). The bond that she shared with her Eunch is special to her and broken when he was killed and she finds the person and forgives the person as she learns to understand why people do things. It is Empress Orchid way of changing and adapting to changes that have occured in the past and the she deals with the future. It is highly influenced by the history of China protrays the life of Empress Wu in a positive way.

I liked this book and give 5 starts as it is a continuation and better then most continued books. Through this book i am able to learn more about the Chinese history. If you like the history of china then you will like this too. It is a journey well worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book, 5 Feb 2008
By 
N. Combe - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
I read her previous book empress orchid and was moved by it , she makes you feel like you are there... so when I saw this one i couldn't resist and I haven't been able to put it down I am sad its ended... Really great books recommended to everyone
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to engage with, 27 July 2008
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
In 'Empress Orchid', Orchid herself was a young woman - naive, impressionable, and with good intentions. Min portrayed her protagonist's desperation very well, and in that novel Orchid's methods of surviving in the Forbidden City were justified - she was dealing with a hostile court, a weak husband, and a spoiled son.

But in 'The Last Empress', things go a little downhill. While Orchid was a layered and difficult character in the first book, she came across as being genuinely good at heart - in this novel, however, she is incredibly difficult to empathise with.

The main problem is the children. Orchid raises several young boys as heir to the Dragon Throne during this novel, and none of them are any good at it. They all end up being miserable, selfish or weak (sometimes all three), and each time she realises she has failed once again, Orchid - now ruling the country of China - protests that she doesn't know where she went wrong. She complains to the now-uncaring reader, and you begin to lose patience with a woman whose common sense is clearly lacking when it comes to raising children. She switches from being indulgent to suddenly taking a harsher line, by which time the damage is done.

The saving grace of the novel is its' adroit following of the political situation in China during Orchid's time as Empress - the situation is described in detail, and I learned a lot about Chinese history from the book. In that sense, it's reccomended. Unfortunately, however, you have to put up with the now less-than-likeable character of the narrator and her saga of failed upbringings to get the historical benefit.

If you want a history of pre-war China, I would reccomend this book - as long as you can skip the irritating character-driven sections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Stunning Novel ..., 7 Aug 2007
By 
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
What a fabulous follow up to Anchee Min's Empress Orchid! I read the first whilst on holiday last year (and to be honest it was a last minute pick up in the airport before heading off...and I only bought it as my travel companion recommended her to me (as a male I don't think many men would be attracted to such novels). This book takes you further into the life, loves and tribulations of Orchid; and what a fabulous look into an amazing world it is. This book kept me enthralled from the first page to the last. Although sad in lots of ways, Orchid led a stunning life and what a book to tell it. Another marvellous achievement by Anchee Min! Thanks!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Decline and Fall of the Q'ing dynasty, 24 Aug 2007
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This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
This was a fascinating follow-on to "Empress Orchid", and if you've read that, you'll certainly enjoy this completion. I found it interesting because of the historical events surrounding the period, i.e. the slow bleeding away of China and western rapacity, the Boxer rebellion and the eventual collapse of the Q'ing dynasty and the empire following the Empress Dowager's death. Anchee Min has a gift for getting under the skin of her strong female heroines (cf "Madame Mao"), and I wonder if this is because of the very personal experience she writes about in "Red Azalea", i.e. her relationship with her female squadron leader and the lack of male company during her youth? Anchee paints her heroine as almost blameless, whereas the standard veiw is that the Empress Dowager was a disaster for China, reactionary and anti-Western; in the book she comes across as balancing the opposing factions within the Court. There is far less of the personal interaction than in Empress Orchid, probably because there is no seduction or out-manoevring of her rivals in Court as she has already attained power by the time the book starts. But it was a cracking read, as they say, perhaps less intense than Empress Orchid but balanced by the historical interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greater scope but less detail, 15 Mar 2014
By 
Iset (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Last Empress (Kindle Edition)
In terms of writing quality, Anchee Min is consistent here with this book’s prequel; Empress Orchid. Min writes with a wonderful ease and flow, combining imaginative description with show over tell.

The Last Empress differs from Empress Orchid in construction of plot and pacing however. Whilst Empress Orchid covered a handful of years of the eponymous character’s life, The Last Empress covers several decades. This means the pacing is considerably different. Empress Orchid had the leisure to dwell on choice moments, to draw out key events. The Last Empress aspires to a grander and more epic scope, but it only achieves this half the time. The other half, plot points are summarised and trotted out in after-the-event narrative. I feel a little mean-spirited pointing that out, but it’s true. It’s still well-written, but it feels abridged and abbreviated. The Last Empress is longer than Empress Orchid, so it’s hard to see what Min could have done, other than make this book even longer or make this into a trilogy – either of which I would have been perfectly happy with. The way it’s written as is however, I do feel that the story has lost some immersion and depth due to events being skimmed over, which is a shame as I like these two books, and Min’s writing style.

Still a good read however, and in some ways the story in The Last Empress is even more poignant than in Empress Orchid.
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The Last Empress by Anchee Min
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