(The Tarkington Book 2)
The West punctures an opening into China in the 1790s
This story has all of the mystique, intrigue, danger, politics and clash of cultures as “Shogun” did (although it was about Japan). The author spent hours researching the history of these times and in an efficient manner so that it did not interfere with his story, he listed separately information about China and its history so that the reader has the background. Years ago I read that the English made a fortune selling opium to the Chinese, which surprised me because the movies were always about opium dens and I assumed the Chinese were providing it. This is far from the truth. This story basis is built on a segment of high Chinese officials who were purchasing opium clandestinely from the British and selling it locally through a network. There were others who were close to the Emperor, who is now an old man, with three sons, one of whom will inherit his power when he dies, and they knew that opium was destroying many Chinese and were attempting to find the source and destroy it. At that time in China, there were two main genetic people, the Manchurians who were beautiful, tall, very intelligent and ruled China. The other segment were the Han, who were smaller, flat facial features, and usually were the common people and laboring class.
China restricted each different western country trader to a certain small area not a part of mainland China so that they could not influence the Chinese. The story includes romance, murder, betrayal, beauty, and an insight into the Oriental mind, which even today, is hard for the Westerner to understand and accept.
I loved every moment of this page turner, absorbed the information it provided and would hope there is some way the author can market this so that it becomes popular. I believe it would make a great movie and I can only praise it.
I was given a complimentary copy for an honest review.