Randel, Weina Dai. The Empress of Bright Moon. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-1-4926-1359-6. $15.99 USD.
The second book in Weina Dai Randel’s Empress of Bright Moon duology is just as good as the first, if not better. It builds on the palace intrigue and conspiracies of the last book, showing both how the stakes have been raised and how Mei has grown as a person.
Randel continues to show the injustices against women in the Palace with great poignance, from the depiction of Mei’s exile at the beginning and struggle to be accepted due to her past to the importance of woman’s fertility and the way she is shamed if she does not prove fruitful, with disregard for the man’s behavior, as was the case with Empress Wang.
I also loved seeing the continuing trajectory of Mei’s relationship with Pheasant, considering they have even more odds against them this time. I found myself rejoicing during the triumphs, such as when Mei is made a Lady of the Court and has a son, but feeling immense sadness and sympathy with them when their daughter is killed, leading to a brief rift between them. This is another credit to Randel’s wonderful writing, that she is able to take historical figures and bring flesh and blood to their unlikely and difficult love story.