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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: The Concubine Saga

The Concubine Saga
Author:  Llyod Lofthouse
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher:   Three Clover Press
Release Date:  June 20, 2011
Source: Provided by the author through Virtual Authors Book Tour
Buy the Book:  Amazon

Book Description
No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart’s status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism”, inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems and schools.
However, his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Sterling Seagrave, in Dragon Lady, calls her Hart’s sleep-in dictionary and says she was wise beyond her years.
Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese. He also finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.
During his early years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he becomes.
In time, an ancient empire will rely on him to survive, and he will become the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusts.
Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, The Concubine Saga is the deeply intimate story of Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart.
“My Splendid Concubine” was the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
In the sequel, “Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine”, he was the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusted.
Both novels have come together as one in “The Concubine Saga”.
 I have been a lover of Chinese historical novels since I first read Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan years ago.  But when I saw this book my phobia of large books kicked it.  I have no idea why I have this issue but I do.  Even with Harry Potter (book 7).  LOL!  
This story about Robert Hart was a little hard for me to get into in the beginning.  It was like reading a history book rather than a love story.  But I soon came to realize it was just a set up and the book had me hooked.  Robert Hart was a man who ended up in China solely to prove to his family he wasn't a failure.  And boy, did he!  The author tells this rich culture's history with love and respect that a lot of authors forget.  The Chinese have more of an appreciation for nature and harmony in all they do.  The author pulled those two central themes throughout the book, chapter by chapter.  You can feel it through his descriptions of areas and the selections of poems included in the book.  
I really enjoyed reading about the internal struggles Robert had with his new found life in China versus his upbringing in Ireland.  The conflict of religion, customs and attitudes was so real and heartfelt that I completely understood his position and thinking throughout the book.  
Robert's concubine Ayaou is extremely well written even though she doesn't have much dialog.  Ayaou is a young girl who only knows one thing and that is how to be a concubine for the "foreign devils".  The book clearly paints her status in the Chinese culture.  At times you may want to scream at her for not listening to Robert but in the end she will make you understand where her thinking is coming from.
The writing style took me a minute to get use to but like I said I was hooked.  There were moments in the book that dragged a bit and I felt were a bit repetitive but the story as a whole was dynamic.
This book is a great read for anyone traveling to China, anyone studying Chinese and/or Chinese History or just loves Historical Novels.  I honestly feel this book should be on the college required reading list for all international business students. 
I recommend this book to adults due to some areas of sexual content and violence.  
This book is number 25 in my Goodreads Challenge
 Check out the other reviews, interviews, and giveaways on The Concubine Saga Book Tour.

 Giveaway Winner 

Thank you all for entering to win an e-book of The Concubine Saga by Llyod Lofthouse.  But the author can only giveaway one copy to one lucky winner.  
And that lucky person just happens to be...
Gail V.

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