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The Last Empress
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on 15 October 2016
Wonderful story I was automatically transported to the Forbidden City. Having already read Empress Orchid this second novel in the series was equally enjoyable in every way. To be transported to such a City via the imagination is a wonderful thing. Congratulations to Anchee Min for bringing the characters and the City alive.
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on 19 April 2007
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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on 21 September 2014
I loved the first novel, this sequel was a disappointment. It reads badly, it felt like reading a history text book at times. Major events feel skimmed, almost summarised. You never feel like you're in the sceen or situation and there is miniaml dialogue. All this is a real shame as I'd wanted to read more after the first one. I couldn't actually finish this, I was bored.
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on 2 April 2014
I found the writing very academic in style merely citing research rather than forming the storey. I felt there could have been much more added, to pad out the basic facts. I was not entertained and put the book down several times and only completed reading it as I dislike leaving books unfinished. This writer's style is not for me.
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on 24 August 2007
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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on 12 January 2014
I read Empress Orchid a few years ago and really enjoyed it but I found with The Last Empress that some of the names were so similar I landed up getting a bit confused and having to re-read pages. It didn't flow or hold my attention as well a Empress Orchid. Disappointing
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on 11 January 2014
Book two in the series. Book one being Empress Orchid. This one starts with Orchid gaining power and follows her story through to her death. A very interesting read.

I had these firstly as paperback books but have been slowly converting my library across onto my kindle.
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on 28 December 2013
China is unique in the world an ancient civilisation exploited by by other nations for centuries. Relations of mine lived and were born there as missionaries and still have strong links there. I visited 20 years ago. This book gives an insight into some of its mysteries.
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on 1 February 2014
Wonderful to learn so much about the unknown. China has always been a mystery to British students. The book brought this period of history to life. tHe Western powers do not come out with credit.They pillaged a country that they made no effort to understand. Simply because it did not conform to their ideas they felt it allowed them free range to Harry, pillage and destroy a mystical empire with a lifestyle completely different from our own. Far from perfect but totally fascinating.
I look forward to finding out more!!!!
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on 14 August 2015
This is not to be recommended, this is full of mistakes as to the real life of the life of the Empress, and the facts are out of order, and some have no basis in fact.
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