Today's stop is exciting because we have a native of China leading the tour. Weina Dai Randel, author of the acclaimed Empress of Bright Moon dulology, The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon. Weina will show is the highlights that no traveler should miss when visiting this fascinating country.
I was dazzled by the sight everywhere I saw when I revisited China after living in the U.S. for almost fifteen years. I've taken some pictures here and maybe you'll find me somewhere on them? You'll see the Great Wall, a corner of the Summer Palace, and the frozen river at the exit of the Summer Palace – it really was that cold in Beijing in December that the entire river was frozen.
I can't resist adding a picture of the Yu Garden in Shanghai as well. If you go to China, you have to stop in a southern city such as Shanghai and Suzhou, which are famous for their delicate and extravagant gardens. The Yu Garden was built in 1559, that's about 450 years old, before the U.S. became independent. Yes. It's true, if you go to China, people will casually tell you this is 500 years old and that's 800 years old, and for history lover like me, I could only nod and admire.
I have to mention the city of Xi'an, too, known as Chang'an in the Tang Dynasty, as described in my novels The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon. Xi'an is home for many world famous cultural heritage sites: Qin Shi Huang's Terracotta Army, Great Maternal Grace Pagoda, built in A.D 652, by Emperor Gaozong, in honor of his mother. Yes, I mentioned the pagoda in my novel as well!
The two palaces where Empress Wu lived no longer exist, but I found some reconstructed images of the Daming Palace, a secondary palace, smaller, more like a resort, which Empress Wu frequented at leisure. According to sources, the Daming Palace had about 5 miles perimeter, with 11 gates and more than 40 sites, pavilions, palaces, and a lake, known as Penglai Lake in Empress Wu's time. One palace, the Linde Palace, famous for its magnificent structure, measured about 132,400 square feet.
Photos by Weina Dai Randel (from top to bottom)
One of the buildings inside Summer Palace
A picture of Great Wall
A picture of the Yu Garden
A corner of Summer Palace
All About The Moon in the Palace and Weina Dai Randel
The time for taking hold of her destiny is now
At the moment of the Emperor's death, everything changes in the palace. Mei, his former concubine, is free, and Pheasant, the heir and Mei's lover, is proclaimed as the new Emperor, heralding a new era in China. But just when Mei believes she's closer to her dream, Pheasant's chief wife, Lady Wang, powerful and unpredictable, turns against Mei and takes unthinkable measures to stop her. The power struggle that ensues will determine Mei's fate–and that of China.
Surrounded by enemies within the palace that she calls home, Mei continues her journey to the throne in The Empress of Bright Moon, the second book in Weina Dai Randel's acclaimed duology. Only by fighting back against those who wish her harm will Mei be able to realize her destiny as the most powerful woman in China.
Weina received an M.A. in English from Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas, where she was inspired to write about Empress Wu of China when she took a class in Asian American literature. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Writer's Garret in Dallas.
The Moon in the Palace is her first novel.