• The Moon in the Palace

  • The Empress of Bright Moon, Book 1
  • By: Weina Dai Randel
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (323 ratings)

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The Moon in the Palace  By  cover art

The Moon in the Palace

By: Weina Dai Randel
Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
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Publisher's Summary

RITA Award winner, Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance, 2017.

There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power. 

A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the emperor's attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the emperor a gift he can never forget. 

Mei's intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive. 

In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China - where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life or death - and the woman who came to rule it all. 

©2016 Weina Dai Randel (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Moon in the Palace

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

One of the most annoying narrations

The narration of this book is one of THE most annoying I have ever listened to. I almost threw in the towel and gave up listening to the book, but I suffered through it. What was wrong with the narration? The narrator's version of a screaming Emperor was to GROWL and ROAR-- as were most of her male voices. It was so annoying that I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. Mei... her voice came across as a whiny little whimp. Okay, granted she was only 13, but her shrieking voice was no picnic to listen to.

For that reason, I had trouble really enjoying the story. Was it historical fiction? Well, that was a stretch. I didn't learn anything that was culturally enlightening... at least not much. The emperor was insufferable with that horrible narration. I hated him, for that alone (though he was quite a jacka$$ anyway).

There's a second book in the series, but I don't think I can stomach the same narrator again. I have listened to hundreds of audio books, and this one was so over-the-top dramatized with endless shrieking...and oh, I lost count of how many times "heart bloomed" or heart was filled, or "heart almost burst".

I seem to be in the minority, as I was totally disappointed.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Couldn't stand the narrator

Although based on fact, the story was rather melodramatic and at times quite unlikely e.g a concubine managing to have a secret affair with the Emperor's son, roaming around the walled palace day and night without escort and frankly offending the Emperor on numerous occasions but being forgiven every time. Nevertheless, this was an entertaining book that consistently held my attention. What ruined the audio version was the ridiculous narrator, who's tone veered from breathless pleading to juvenile excitement and painful ecstasy. She tried too hard to comvey emotion, and simply ended up sounded stupid.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A lovely book

I confess I was a bit prejudiced towards this book. I've been watching Chinese TV series The Empress of China which is about Wu Meiniang, and when I saw this book I was transfixed as I can't get enough of that formidable woman.


Of course, The Moon in The Palace and what I saw on TV did not match. I could recognize the main events but their interpretation was very different. I liked both, although the TV series felt more mature while the book felt a bit simplified for the average reader. Still, it was beautiful.


Weina Dai Randel has a lovely voice. Mei comes off as a poetic soul, brave and determined, and yet ultimately, fragile. The Emperor is a very troubled man, dangerous in his absolute power over life and death, haunted by his past and aged by his life experiences. He is not a likeable character, which is why it's easy to understand how Mei falls in love for Pheasant, his son.


Another fab thing about this book is that every character is flawed. They muddle along in the treacherous halls of the Palace, and more often than not Mei is in the dark about what's happening and that she is a pawn.


Overall, it's carefully crafted, easily read and very likeable historical fiction. For those of you, who likes books based in China and who is fascinated by this rich historical period, I say, don't hesitate to give it a try. It was a good read.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lots of research done in writing this book.

I was humbled on the rough treatment of lower class. And was surprised the villains thought noting o f the consequences of their actions on others lives -i enjoyed the narrator of this book

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story bad narration

The story was very interesting and gives us a glimpse into ancient china. That being said the narration almost broke my concentration in this story.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Glitches

Great book, but the recording glitched out on two full chapters. Nothing but clicks and static. That is the only reason for 4 stars.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I may have liked it better had I read the physical book

Wow…I don’t think I have ever listened to an audiobook with a narrator more poorly chosen. I may have even thought more highly of the story if the narration had not been so annoying. I love to immerse myself into the culture that is being depicted in a historical novel. This was so off in terms of the narration I was relieved when the book ended. It took all the power I could muster not to give up at the loud, screeching voice that depicted the emperor. Is there no director or editor for audiobook performances? The story was pretty good, although some expressions used, I am quite sure, would not have been around in China during this time period. I would not discourage anyone who likes historical fiction from READING this book. I absolutely cannot recommend the audio version.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

To dramatised

I love historical fiction. The narrator is exceptional. The narration is only as good as the writing, which is VERY lacking. I wanted more about Mei (title character) based on historical evidence. Instead, it's a melodrama that is based no where on history.
If you want fantasy set in ancient China, this is for you.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Chinese roalty

Interesting story, excellent performance. The narrator did a very good job with the different characters.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

It could have been better

The concept of the story sounds interesting, but it is just overwrought with unnecessary descriptions.
The narrator was so hard to listen to. She was so overly dramatic. The way she did some characters was so over the top.