Daughter of Heaven (2007): Nigel Cawthorne

★★★

The True Story of the Only Woman to Become Emperor of China

My recent Chinese escapades left me with a burning desire to find out more about the country’s history and culture, so I couldn’t resist this biography of Wu Chao, a remarkable woman in the 7th century who clawed her way up from the status of a lowly concubine to become Emperor of China in her own right. She was, predictably, a fascinating character and her court, in its intrigues, corruption and eventual dissipation, makes the worst excesses of Westeros look like a village fete. Her rise and fall are worthy of a Greek tragedy but, alas, this book isn’t the best way for a newcomer to encounter her story.

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