Customer Reviews for

Empress

Average Rating 3.5
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(2)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A Favorite.

I thought that this book was very captivating and moving, and it is a favorite of mine. Sa is a fantastic author, and shows her talent best in this book with her vivid, imaginative settings and elegant prose. Some of the side characters are easy to forget, but there is ...
I thought that this book was very captivating and moving, and it is a favorite of mine. Sa is a fantastic author, and shows her talent best in this book with her vivid, imaginative settings and elegant prose. Some of the side characters are easy to forget, but there is a family tree at the beginning that helps to keep them straight. I didn't find this book "disgusting" in the least, apparently unlike some others who have reviewed. It's written from the eyes of another culture and age, and in particular the passage from pages 59-60 was meant to show Gracious Wife's cruelty and abusive nature. Her actions aren't praised in the novel at all. There are other scenes in the book that may seem odd to the Western reader, but understanding it in the context of a different culture is essential. With this in mind, I probably wouldn't suggest it for younger or less mature readers. Overall, a beautiful piece of literature.

posted by 626588 on December 18, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

The plot has a few exciting moments, but overall it moves quite slowly. Too many details (for example, pages of lists of parade participants!) make the book downright tedious at times. The main character is arrogant, and minor characters are poorly developed.

posted by Anonymous on July 7, 2007

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2008

    A Favorite.

    I thought that this book was very captivating and moving, and it is a favorite of mine. Sa is a fantastic author, and shows her talent best in this book with her vivid, imaginative settings and elegant prose. Some of the side characters are easy to forget, but there is a family tree at the beginning that helps to keep them straight. I didn't find this book "disgusting" in the least, apparently unlike some others who have reviewed. It's written from the eyes of another culture and age, and in particular the passage from pages 59-60 was meant to show Gracious Wife's cruelty and abusive nature. Her actions aren't praised in the novel at all. There are other scenes in the book that may seem odd to the Western reader, but understanding it in the context of a different culture is essential. With this in mind, I probably wouldn't suggest it for younger or less mature readers. Overall, a beautiful piece of literature.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    GREAT READ

    A beautifully written book! Although I would not recommend it for young or immature readers because of the prose in which it is written, it might be misconstrued as boring and not enough of a "story". But I found it intriguing with such detailed descriptions of the politics, customs, and scenery of that era, as well as Empress Wu's struggle to maintain power in a male dominant arena. Very poetic and an awesome read for history buffs!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    Interesting

    A different approach to storytelling. sometimes it was a bit difficult to follow, but helped me visualize the politics and customs of a time that I knew little about. I would recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

    Very poetic and unique.

    Shan Sa's eloquent writing style-from page one-reveals an exotic and elegant world. The book is a unique and intriguing perspective on the biography of a time faded powerful female figure. While the book is generally hard to follow and the intellectual writing style is hard to decode, I highly recommend it-especially to anyone interested in history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting Prospective

    I've seen a few Chinese dramas and read some short historical accounts of Empress Wu. The author's style of taking the reader through the tumultous years of this unusual woman's life is riveting. I couldn't put the book down. Some of my friends and relatives have preconceived ideas about how power-hungry and ruthless Empress Wu was. It is easy to forget what kind of world she was born into and that a "progressive-thinking" woman was not always tolerated. Women were sometimes treated as nothing more than heir-producing machines and momentary diversions to be used and discarded at the leisure of their masters. Some historians may judge her harshly but I think she deserves an unbiased viewpoint and be given some credit for her ability to survive the political career for as long as she did. Empress Wu has earned her place in history along with other powerful queens: Hatshepsut, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, to name a few. Her ruthless intrigues and other characteristics do not make her a stellar ruler but she is definitely unforgettable and impressive figure in Chinese history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    very very slow paced

    when i picked up this book, i was very excited from the excerpts. It starts out somewhat interesting..... but the description was just too much!! I remember reading pages and pages at one point about the the scenery and backgroud..... no one needs to know that much!! there is no real turning point or climax, you never feel finish a chapter feeling satisfied or even curious as to what happens next, in fact you keep hoping its ending. It is just a monotone book where the narrator talks on and on in a very monotone language. Even if someone dies, you almost don't care bc it is written and described in such dry manner. i almost got to the end and had to stop bc it just dragged and dragged on!! the author writes beautifully, almost poetic... but gets way to caught up in trying to show how much history and data she knows. Its almost not understandable at some point and makes u wonder on many occasions .... where is this going, and why do i need to know this. Could have saved some time and left out A LOT of details.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    The plot has a few exciting moments, but overall it moves quite slowly. Too many details (for example, pages of lists of parade participants!) make the book downright tedious at times. The main character is arrogant, and minor characters are poorly developed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Why sj Why you shiuld read it...

    There is undoubtably extreamly complex language but it is readable an the farther you read the more intresting and twisted the scheme evolves into. The author shows a very human like veiw of the characters point of view with deep yet smothered emotional characteristics. Im in high school and find this book deeply compelling. Definetly a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    Booooring

    This book was sooooo boring and tedious. I got all the way to pg. 232 and couldn't bring myself to keep reading. There were some good parts but they were few and far between. I also did not like the main character at all. She was cold, calculating, and power-hungry. Nothing in this book made me feel for her or care what happened to her. One good thing I will say for this book (and the reason I gave it two stars instead of one) is that the language was beautiful and very poetic. But it's almost like the author concentrated more on that than on developing the characters and the plot. Do yourself a favor and pass this one up for a Lisa See or Amy Tan book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2009

    Empress

    I only got through the third chapter in this book I found it incredibly boring and at times kinda hard to understand.At times it felt like I was reading a poem and the story was hard to fallow.In the front of the book it said its translated by someone that's probably why it reads differently than most books I have read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    the cover drew me in!

    Very interesting and educational...but bloody!

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  • Posted June 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Boring

    I normally love historical fiction and was excited to read about Empress Wu; however, I was completely disappointed. The writing was too descriptive and almost read like a monotone drone. There was alot of historical detail (normally good), but the characters lacked emotion and there was no climax. Sadly, I was happy once the empress finally died and the story could end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2008

    A reviewer

    I loved this book, and while I might not give it to a 10 year old to read, I really don't think any adult should have a problem with this book. The sexual scenes only happend a few times, compared to how long this book is that really isn't a lot. To me, this book was about passion, yes sexual passion, political passion, passion about life and death, passion to become what no one else though you could. I would reccomend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2007

    Two pages ruined it for me

    At first I was enchanted by the book and would read it any time I could. Although it was sometimes hard to follow, Shan Sa is a captivating writer. However, I was so disgusted by what happen on pages 59-60 that I dropped the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    This was a captivating book that in my opinion was beautifully written. I agree that pages 59, 60 and similar events in the book were a bit obscene for my taste but I was able to look over it and not let those events completely discourage me from the book. (I'm 15 and I do caution children who are younger than me to beware of those scenes that are portrayed). The attention to detail gave me a better depiction of the fashion, culture and architecture of that time. The book did have its dull moments but it made up for it with climactic points that further engrossed the reader. Overall I was content with the ending and enjoyed the novel. It gave the reader a thorough image of life in the tang dynasty and gave an insight on a forgotten empress.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2007

    Dragging...

    This book was very dragged out and sometimes made me fall asleep. There were times that too much of it went into a horrid amount of details, right down to the design of a specific garment. Although I did learn about a specific time of China's history, there was nothing special about it that kept me wanting to read. I had to force myself to finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2006

    Okay But not Great

    I just finished the book today. It felt like a historical book written by the main character full of ego and pomp. The characters where difficult to track and I kept having to go back in the book to try to remember who they were which tells me that they weren't that interesting to begin with. Tons of fanfare and fluff. Not my favorite read. I think the story line could of been little more cohesive and maybe that would of grabbed my interest. The overall idea seemed interesting but poorly put together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2006

    good interesting read, but too long

    Starts nice and crisp and its great to get familiar with the chinese dynasties, it also captures the greed for power and the extravangazas quite beautifully. the fight against ageing and its remedies do make for interesting thought... But the family tree's too complicated and its difficult to keep track of each concubine and her offsprings and the story towards the end kindoff stretches on too long.. In all beautifully and dramactically wriiten.. enjoyed the read...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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