Ancient China is a captivating setting that has inspired countless historical fiction novels. From the rich tapestry of Chinese history to the fascinating characters and epic battles, these novels transport readers to a bygone era filled with intrigue, romance, and adventure. In this blog post, we have compiled a list of five must-read historical fiction novels set in Ancient China that will immerse you in the wonders and complexities of this ancient civilization.
1. “Empress Orchid” by Anchee Min
“Empress Orchid” tells the story of Tzu Hsi, who rises from humble origins to become the Empress Dowager of China during the Qing Dynasty. Set against the backdrop of political upheaval and cultural change, this novel offers a vivid portrayal of the court intrigue, power struggles, and personal sacrifices faced by Tzu Hsi. Anchee Min’s meticulous research and attention to detail bring the historical setting to life, making “Empress Orchid” a captivating read for fans of historical fiction.
2. “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See
Set in 19th-century China, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” explores the deep and enduring friendship between two women, Lily and Snow Flower. Through their secret language, nu shu, they communicate their hopes, dreams, and sorrows in a society that limits women’s opportunities. Lisa See skillfully weaves together themes of love, friendship, and women’s roles in society, providing readers with a poignant and intimate portrayal of life in Ancient China.
3. “The Ghost Bride” by Yangsze Choo
“The Ghost Bride” takes readers on a supernatural journey through the customs and traditions of 19th-century Malaya and the Chinese afterlife. Li Lan, a young woman from a struggling family, is asked to become a ghost bride, a practice where a living woman marries a deceased man to appease his spirit. As Li Lan navigates both the mortal and spirit worlds, she uncovers dark secrets and faces dangerous encounters. Yangsze Choo’s atmospheric writing and compelling characters make “The Ghost Bride” a memorable historical fiction novel.
4. “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin
“The Three-Body Problem” is the first book in the acclaimed Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Liu Cixin. While not strictly a historical fiction novel, it intertwines historical events with science fiction elements. Set during the Cultural Revolution in China, the story follows a group of scientists who discover a mysterious video game that offers clues to an impending alien invasion. Liu Cixin’s imaginative storytelling and exploration of Chinese history make “The Three-Body Problem” a unique and thought-provoking read.
5. “The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure” by Adam Williams
“The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure” transports readers to 18th-century China, where the lives of several characters intertwine against the backdrop of political unrest and social change. From the opulent Forbidden City to the bustling streets of Beijing, Adam Williams weaves a tale of power, love, and betrayal. With its vivid descriptions and compelling characters, “The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure” offers a captivating glimpse into Ancient China.
These historical fiction novels set in Ancient China offer a window into a fascinating and complex civilization. Whether you are interested in the lives of empresses, the bonds between women, supernatural tales, or the blending of history and science fiction, these novels have something to offer. Immerse yourself in the wonders of Ancient China and embark on a literary journey through time and culture. Happy reading!