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Iron Empress: A Novel of Murder and Madness in T'ang China

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Book One of the T’ang Trilogy, along with SHORE OF PEARLS and THE COURT OF THE LION, newly released by Trident Media eBooks on all major platforms: The International bestseller IRON EMPRESS (formerly DECEPTION), translated into five languages, hailed critically in the US and Europe, returns. In China’s six thousand-year history, there were countless Empresses, but only one Book One of the T’ang Trilogy, along with SHORE OF PEARLS and THE COURT OF THE LION, newly released by Trident Media eBooks on all major platforms: The International bestseller IRON EMPRESS (formerly DECEPTION), translated into five languages, hailed critically in the US and Europe, returns. In China’s six thousand-year history, there were countless Empresses, but only one female Emperor. Her name was Wu Tse-tien, and she was the Iron Empress. Collaborating with her lookalike mother, Madame Yang, she spares nothing and no one in her ascent from the rank of court concubine, starting with the murder of her infant daughter and then the sexual conquest of the T’ang Dynasty Emperor Kaotsung. Mediocre son of a great father, Kaotsung is always being compared, wantingly, to the late Emperor Taitsung. Before his death, the father had conferred authority on six elderly trusted advisors to represent Taitsung from beyond the grave. The wrinkled, aged Council of Six are not Taitsung’s only legacy—Kaotsung also inherits the smooth, fragrant and delectable Lady Wu, once a favored consort of his father’s. A lucky man! Or is he? Meanwhile, in the distant port city of Yangchou, another historical denizen of the T'ang, Magistrate Ti Ren-chieh (known to millions via Robert Van Gulik's series the Judge Dee mysteries), is obsessed with a string of murders. Educated, rational, and compassionate, he’s been called the Chinese Sherlock Holmes, putting himself in the minds, hearts, shoes and clothing of criminals and their victims. He goes where he needs to go to solve a crime, be it a fine house, a monastery or the stinking alleys and foul waters of the canal district of Yangchou. Anywhere but home, where his two wives, old mother and delinquent sons make his teeth hurt and his life miserable. As he cracks these baffling cases, his investigations take him far from the light of rational Confucianism and deep into the shadows of charlatan Buddhism, where hucksters, poseurs and opportunists abound. Little does he imagine where his perseverance will deliver him. Aided by her mother and eventually by her lover, Hsueh Huai-i, a rogue Tibetan monk-magician, the Empress Wu overcomes the final barrier to ultimate power: her sex. The challenge of Dee’s career arrives in the form of the bloody hoofprints of a horse on the shining floors of the mansions of slaughtered wealthy families in the capital city of Ch’angan. Clues in Buddhist sutras lead Dee into the world of demons, saints and prophecies, and ultimately to the palace, the Empress herself, and an extraordinary showdown with Hsueh Huai-i. "IRON EMPRESS is much better by far than THE NAME OF THE ROSE: More gripping, more understandable, more readable....A work at once entertaining and fascinating....enlightening, illuminating, boiling with surprises and alive with totally novel imagery....” —Le Figaro, Paris "If P.D. James and Umberto Eco collaborated on a novel set in T'ang China, it might be like this." —Sterling Seagrave "A skittish dance on the razor's edge of paranoia." —San Francisco Examiner "Wonderful...compelling...a hard-driven saga of good and evil without the car chases. Enough beheadings, poisonings and back-stabbings, both literal and figurative, to bloody a whole series of books..." —San Francisco Chronicle About the Authors: Eleanor Cooney is the author of DEATH IN SLOW MOTION (HarperCollins 2004, Kindle edition 2013). She recently completed a dark-but-humorous literary “noir” thriller set in Wisconsin in the present and in the 1890s. Daniel Altieri holds degrees in Oriental language and civilization from Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania.


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Book One of the T’ang Trilogy, along with SHORE OF PEARLS and THE COURT OF THE LION, newly released by Trident Media eBooks on all major platforms: The International bestseller IRON EMPRESS (formerly DECEPTION), translated into five languages, hailed critically in the US and Europe, returns. In China’s six thousand-year history, there were countless Empresses, but only one Book One of the T’ang Trilogy, along with SHORE OF PEARLS and THE COURT OF THE LION, newly released by Trident Media eBooks on all major platforms: The International bestseller IRON EMPRESS (formerly DECEPTION), translated into five languages, hailed critically in the US and Europe, returns. In China’s six thousand-year history, there were countless Empresses, but only one female Emperor. Her name was Wu Tse-tien, and she was the Iron Empress. Collaborating with her lookalike mother, Madame Yang, she spares nothing and no one in her ascent from the rank of court concubine, starting with the murder of her infant daughter and then the sexual conquest of the T’ang Dynasty Emperor Kaotsung. Mediocre son of a great father, Kaotsung is always being compared, wantingly, to the late Emperor Taitsung. Before his death, the father had conferred authority on six elderly trusted advisors to represent Taitsung from beyond the grave. The wrinkled, aged Council of Six are not Taitsung’s only legacy—Kaotsung also inherits the smooth, fragrant and delectable Lady Wu, once a favored consort of his father’s. A lucky man! Or is he? Meanwhile, in the distant port city of Yangchou, another historical denizen of the T'ang, Magistrate Ti Ren-chieh (known to millions via Robert Van Gulik's series the Judge Dee mysteries), is obsessed with a string of murders. Educated, rational, and compassionate, he’s been called the Chinese Sherlock Holmes, putting himself in the minds, hearts, shoes and clothing of criminals and their victims. He goes where he needs to go to solve a crime, be it a fine house, a monastery or the stinking alleys and foul waters of the canal district of Yangchou. Anywhere but home, where his two wives, old mother and delinquent sons make his teeth hurt and his life miserable. As he cracks these baffling cases, his investigations take him far from the light of rational Confucianism and deep into the shadows of charlatan Buddhism, where hucksters, poseurs and opportunists abound. Little does he imagine where his perseverance will deliver him. Aided by her mother and eventually by her lover, Hsueh Huai-i, a rogue Tibetan monk-magician, the Empress Wu overcomes the final barrier to ultimate power: her sex. The challenge of Dee’s career arrives in the form of the bloody hoofprints of a horse on the shining floors of the mansions of slaughtered wealthy families in the capital city of Ch’angan. Clues in Buddhist sutras lead Dee into the world of demons, saints and prophecies, and ultimately to the palace, the Empress herself, and an extraordinary showdown with Hsueh Huai-i. "IRON EMPRESS is much better by far than THE NAME OF THE ROSE: More gripping, more understandable, more readable....A work at once entertaining and fascinating....enlightening, illuminating, boiling with surprises and alive with totally novel imagery....” —Le Figaro, Paris "If P.D. James and Umberto Eco collaborated on a novel set in T'ang China, it might be like this." —Sterling Seagrave "A skittish dance on the razor's edge of paranoia." —San Francisco Examiner "Wonderful...compelling...a hard-driven saga of good and evil without the car chases. Enough beheadings, poisonings and back-stabbings, both literal and figurative, to bloody a whole series of books..." —San Francisco Chronicle About the Authors: Eleanor Cooney is the author of DEATH IN SLOW MOTION (HarperCollins 2004, Kindle edition 2013). She recently completed a dark-but-humorous literary “noir” thriller set in Wisconsin in the present and in the 1890s. Daniel Altieri holds degrees in Oriental language and civilization from Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania.

30 review for Iron Empress: A Novel of Murder and Madness in T'ang China

  1. 5 out of 5

    Guan Zhong

    The dates used in the book are about 20 years too early, but it's basically historical. The plot jumps around a lot with seemingly no hope of connecting it all together, but it does eventually come together, and it does so wonderfully. The book never really took my interest and held it until the last part, which somehow made up for it. One thing I can say for this book is that it doesn't read like it was written by a Westerner who doesn't know what she is talking about, someone who maybe looked The dates used in the book are about 20 years too early, but it's basically historical. The plot jumps around a lot with seemingly no hope of connecting it all together, but it does eventually come together, and it does so wonderfully. The book never really took my interest and held it until the last part, which somehow made up for it. One thing I can say for this book is that it doesn't read like it was written by a Westerner who doesn't know what she is talking about, someone who maybe looked a few things up on Wikipedia and read a few Amy Tan books. The authors clearly put effort into this book; it really shows. It's not sentimental or melodramatic like so many other Western-written Chinese stories, and the reader isn't hit over the head with how foreign and strange everything is. Deception: A Novel of Mystery and Madness in Ancient China is definitely worth a read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Before Sherlock Holmes there was Inspector Dee, a 7th century magistrate who handled his cases with the same powers of deduction as Sherlock Holmes. This novel tells of the reign of the Empress Wu and her time of terror. Inspector Dee is hard pressed to prevent all of her evil doings but for over 600 pages she is in his sight. The differences between the attitudes of the followers of Confucious and the Buddhists is woven into the story and ultimately brings the book to a very odd ending. If you Before Sherlock Holmes there was Inspector Dee, a 7th century magistrate who handled his cases with the same powers of deduction as Sherlock Holmes. This novel tells of the reign of the Empress Wu and her time of terror. Inspector Dee is hard pressed to prevent all of her evil doings but for over 600 pages she is in his sight. The differences between the attitudes of the followers of Confucious and the Buddhists is woven into the story and ultimately brings the book to a very odd ending. If you are interested in ancient China, oriental religions and sleuthing then you might find this story of Inspector Dee, who was a real person, of interest. A lot of murders can happen in 600 pages

  3. 5 out of 5

    bkwurm

    The story is set in Tang dynasty China, during the period when Wu Zetian began her rise to power from concubine to Empress, to Empress Dowager to Emperor in her own right. Following the Confucian official Di Renjie, who has been popularized in fiction as Judge Dee, and Wu Zetian, the book tracks how Wu crushed the Confucian bureaucracy's opposition to her and promoted Buddhism for popular support and the career of Di, at first a minor member of the Confucian bureaucracy, as he deals with the ri The story is set in Tang dynasty China, during the period when Wu Zetian began her rise to power from concubine to Empress, to Empress Dowager to Emperor in her own right. Following the Confucian official Di Renjie, who has been popularized in fiction as Judge Dee, and Wu Zetian, the book tracks how Wu crushed the Confucian bureaucracy's opposition to her and promoted Buddhism for popular support and the career of Di, at first a minor member of the Confucian bureaucracy, as he deals with the rise of religious beliefs and practices which he, as a good Confucian, sees as irrational. Tying the two otherwise disparate threads together, is a murder mystery and in the background, unknown to the protagonists, is a wager. I enjoyed the book and even on re-reading it, still found it a good read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sugarpop

    It took a good 100 or so pages for me to settle into this book. It picked up for a bit and then I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the end of it. I came very close to abandoning the book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    MissNYix

    Okay, I officially can't finish reading this. I'm going to stop here... Okay, I officially can't finish reading this. I'm going to stop here...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    This long, twisted mystery is set in 7th century China. Magistrate Dee is the detective and Madame Wu and her mother are the evil doers, Wu becoming Empress of China. A form of Buddhism with deep ties to magic and superstition is at the end silenced by the practical Confucianism of Dee. I schlepped this 640 page (hard cover version) book on several flights before finishing it, and it never lost my interest.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Blas Malo

    Una historia absorbente, llena de detalles y convincente. Personajes atrayentes, atmósfera cuidada, trama bien atada... Y sin embargo, siendo una gran novela le falta algo que haga devorarla.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Petchnikow

    Des piles de cadavres aux quatre coins des villes, des têtes se balançant au bout de piques, des secrets qui partout fleurissent, des temples somptueux à la gloire du bouddhisme... Telle est la Chine du VIIème siècle, la Chine de Wu Tse-tien, une femme fantasque, mégalomane, exaltée. Une courtisane qui a ensorcelé l'empereur, a pris les rênes du pouvoir et est devenue l'unique impératrice de Chine. Une femme qui, à l'apogée de son règne dépravé, s'acoquine avec une secte redoutable qui sème la te Des piles de cadavres aux quatre coins des villes, des têtes se balançant au bout de piques, des secrets qui partout fleurissent, des temples somptueux à la gloire du bouddhisme... Telle est la Chine du VIIème siècle, la Chine de Wu Tse-tien, une femme fantasque, mégalomane, exaltée. Une courtisane qui a ensorcelé l'empereur, a pris les rênes du pouvoir et est devenue l'unique impératrice de Chine. Une femme qui, à l'apogée de son règne dépravé, s'acoquine avec une secte redoutable qui sème la terreur dans tout le pays... Cette situation révolte le juge Ti, Sherlock Holmes du Moyen Âge, qui décide de tout mettre en oeuvre pour sauver l'Empire. La tâche est gigantesque mais elle n'effraie pas cet ennemi de la corruption, du crime et du charlatanisme religieux. Traduit par Alexis Champon

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave Rankin

    No. Just don't. No. Just don't.

  10. 4 out of 5

    kristine gaier

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cessa

  12. 5 out of 5

    Essie_webberme.Com

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fabienne Herc

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carmela

  15. 5 out of 5

    Riobhcah

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paula Simon

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  18. 5 out of 5

    Léa Rogiez

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dzenita Fejzic

  20. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Aso

  21. 4 out of 5

    Booknblues

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Crowder

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eimy Fernández

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Venezia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tim Falkenberg

  26. 4 out of 5

    joolix

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  28. 5 out of 5

    christopher garnett

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura Bailey

  30. 5 out of 5

    ilona

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