The Secrets of Jin-Shei – Alma Alexander

I wasn’t at all sure about this from the blurb and (over)enthusiastic recommendation from Joanne Harris. Still, I’m always a sucker for epic novels set in glorious eras in the past, and all the more so when the action takes place in pre-Maoist China. In this novel we’re quickly introduced to the cast of (mainly) female characters and the concept of jin-shei – a sisterhood determined by a self-determined commitment to friendship and loyalty, and facilitated by a secret women’s language. Once the relationships are established, the plot continues headlong into tales of courtly intrigue and powerplays, spiritual and self-discovery – both for good and for bad set against the background of social and cultural life in mediaeval capital of the Syai empire, aka mediaeval China.

Not as good as Dorothy Dunnett, but then she does build her plots over a whole series of books.

Buy it: Amazon link