i learned a lot reading this book. it was fascinating in my foreign eyes. but empress Wu was a scary character. you can almost say that no matter how.much she had, she always wanted more, and that's dangerous. although being historically interesting,the book was also full of drama and at times drag on. too long. and none of the chatacters was actually likable. Wu was amazing- power driven, smart, calculative, and once in a while showing emotions- emotions that were fake in my eyes. she was a strong woman that was able to find her way in a time where many women didn't have much liberty. but she had no limits, and in a way wasn't capable to love. she corrupted pepole. if you read it, read it in order to get a glimspe on a part of china's history, to learn about the culture and the customes. don't read it if you are searching for a love story, or a woman who sucsseeds without being corrupted and destroyed by the power she achieved. the chinese royal house was bloody, full of politics, lies, battles and betrayals. but what makes this story really good is the ending- the last three pages. at least that's my opinion.