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The Embers of Heaven Paperback – 4 Sep 2006
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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
About the Author
Alma Alexander is the author of ‘The Secrets of Jin-Shei. She was born in Yugoslavia, grew up in South Africa and New Zealand, and now lives with her husband in Washington state, USA.
Top customer reviews
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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. It is not as memorable or as moving, which is a shame because it feels like it could have been. However, when compared to most other books it is exceptionaly well written and tells an interesting story. I look forward to reading a lot more of the author's work in the future.
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.
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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