Sometimes, after reading a book, I don’t know how to evaluate it, what points to mention. “The Moon in the Palace” by Weina Dai Randel (Empress of the Bright Moon ; ISBN 1492613568; 400p.; Goodreads) is one of those books. I don’t know whether to praise the easy read, or be upset on how slow paced and full of irrelevant things it was. For it is not a bad story. So how do I prove that, when I’m the opposite of excitement?
Mei, second daughter, and a very beautiful girl, was her father’s little jewel. He’d dress her as a boy, teach her things one would teach a boy. It seemed he sees an heir in her, this impossible thing, for she was a girl, therefor in a sense – a useless child. Or at least not as valuable as a boy would be, someone to guard the legacy.
With a wave of a hand fate can take everything away, as well as flood you with good things. Mei’s case was a loss after a loss. But being young, beautiful, and of good birth, it meant she still had hope. She could become Emperor’s concubine and restore what her father wished upon her to protect. After all, there is one way a daughter can be far more valuable than a son would be. It is if the daughter becomes the next Empress.
Mei soon learns that court life is not all roses and riches. There’s a strict hierarchy among women, and intrigues can end a girl in disgrace worse than death. And while doors to lowest chambers are always open, the ones leading to the bedchamber of One Above All are hard to get through. Best chance one has is by impressing Emperor on his birthday, the one day everyone is allowed to present him with a gift. Girls are preparing best things they have. And what if you have nothing at all?
I insist on story being good, even if slow, overburdened, and not very original. And best of all – it is a very easy read, you can get through pages in a pace of wind, and only stop because you’ve got a little out of it by a very brutal death description. All the while other things lacking clarifications, like how come no one chases you down, if they just called at you, and you turned away to walk? A grown soldier of a man can’t catch up with a girl in silk skirts and probably most uncomfortable shoes possible? Just small things like that were sometimes weighting the reading down. But as I understand this, it is a debut novel for the author, for which I praise her and encourage to continue. Yes, it may not be the best, and I myself won’t give it more than 3 out of 5, but it is a good start. I will read the next book gladly.