The North is rebelling against the Chinese Emperor, intending to secede from the Empire. Last time this happened, Lord Yu and his family were killed for treason, the only survivor was the three year old daughter, Yu Mei, witnessing the murders.
A lord’s safe holds some secret, which the Black Lotus clan has been assigned to break into. But the contents of the safe are not only wanted by the Chinese emperor, but also by other criminal elements.
Half-elf Jie, pre-teen analytical genius Tian, and Yuna are on a mission in China’s slums to assassinate a Triad boss. The boss might know of the existence of the Black Lotus clan, their goals, and tactics. There are two unexpected obstacles, a serial killer is on the loose, and Yuna recognizes her birthplace and family.
The story continues from where the first book, Thorn of the Night Blossoms, left off. A murdered lord, a half-elf who despite having unnatural abilities does not have the gift of analysis, and a fantastical world which merges the old with the new.
The author uses several passages from Ms. Boskoff’s diary, as well as passages from her partner, in life and climbing, Charlie Fowler. Together with first hand interviews Ms. Garton paints a picture of Christine Boskoff which the record books can’t tell.
Jie is a half-elf assassin working in a house of ill repute to gather information for her clan, the Black Lotus. Jie is loyal, stubborn, but her overconfidence seems to be her downfall.
Lilian’s talents are poising, sensuality, and poetry. She can get information out of anyone, and have them thank her for the pleasure. Lilian’s mission is an important warlord, but she is also in the crosshairs, as well as other clan sisters. Together Jie and Lilian must test their loyalties.
Most everything in the book can be found on news websites, or forums. This is still a worthwhile read though, mostly because of the author’s unique experience couch surfing and meeting Chinese people who are a bit more adventurous than the average citizen.
The first chapter or two got me interested in the concept, ghosts meeting up in a per-scheduled date and time, even though they had to wait a few decades for the meeting to cumulate fully. The narrative got slower than, but the rich language kept me going and once Ah Yan got introduced the whole story took off.
Mr. Steinhauer refuses to make this novel easy for his readers, but the relish in which he writes, creating a world full of paranoia is worth the effort.
The Song Empire in the 13th century has lost half its territory, including the capital, to the Jurchen invaders. While the war is raging, the peasants suffer and the great powers underestimate the Mongol warriors who are being untied by Genghis Khan.