- By Alma Alexander

The Secrets of Jin Shei

  • Title: The Secrets of Jin Shei
  • Author: Alma Alexander
  • ISBN: 9780007163748
  • Page: 487
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Secrets of Jin Shei A sweeping epic set in medieval China it is the story of a group of women the Jin Shei sisterhood who form a uniquely powerful circle that transcends class and social custom They are bound together

    A sweeping epic set in medieval China it is the story of a group of women, the Jin Shei sisterhood, who form a uniquely powerful circle that transcends class and social custom.They are bound together by a declaration of loyalty that transcends all other vows, even those with the gods, by their own secret language, passed from mother to daughter, by the knowledge that someA sweeping epic set in medieval China it is the story of a group of women, the Jin Shei sisterhood, who form a uniquely powerful circle that transcends class and social custom.They are bound together by a declaration of loyalty that transcends all other vows, even those with the gods, by their own secret language, passed from mother to daughter, by the knowledge that some of them will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice to enable others to fulfil their destiny.The sisterhood we meet run from the Emperor s sister to the street beggar, from the trainee warrior in the Emperor s Guard to the apprentice healer, from the artist to the traveller girl, herself an illegitimate daughter of an emperor and seen as a threat to the throne And as one of them becomes Dragon Empress, her determination to hold power against the sages of the temple, against the marauding forces from other kingdoms, drags the sisterhood into a dangerous world of court intrigue, plot and counterplot, and brings them into conflict with each other from which only the one who remains true to all the vows she made at the very beginning to the dying Princess Empress can rescue them.An amazing and unusual book, based on some historical fact, full of drama, adventure and conflict like a Shakespearean history play, it s a novel about kinship and a society of women, of mysticism, jealousy, fate, destiny, all set in the wonderful, swirling background of medieval China.

    1 thought on “The Secrets of Jin Shei

    1. This is a wonderful novel about ten girls growing up in an alternate China. They are from different stations in life, from lowly orphan to Imperial heir, but each one is connected through the bond of Jin-Shei, an oath of sisterhood more binding than anything. Even an order from the emperor can be refused, but a request made in the name of Jin-Shei can not. Over the course of their lives, these ten girls and their Jin-Shei bonds will reshape the empire.At its heart, The Secrets of Jin-Shei is abo [...]

    2. I remember I loved this book! Though it is some years since I read it, it has been passed around the family and recently returned to me.

    3. I hated this book so much. I hated it with the power that only comes from being disappointed and wanting to not hate it. It had potential. It had moments where I thought “Yes! You can do it! You can do it! You… aww fuck.”Basic story line:Mythical Chinese kingdom.Eight Chinese girls.Once upon a time.The girls enter the pact of Jin-Shei. This is a sisterhood oath. It is explained to be sacred and binding, but also supporting because it’s done in love, trust and respect. At least that’s h [...]

    4. I read this one a while ago, years and years – and yet, I still remember it quite often. I can't guarantee about the representation of Asian characters in this book because of the same reason, but if you take it with a grain of salt, I am sure you will enjoy it. It focuses on a sisterhood of sorts of women from all levels of society – rich as well as poor, of humble descent as well as nobility. It spans a long time and has a lot of fantasy elements, cause while it starts out in ancient China [...]

    5. Love, love, loved this book. I think the publisher is doing it a disservice, though, by its presentation. I thought it was going to be an East Asian domestic drama, about the hidden lives of imperial women. Instead, it turned out to be a sprawling epic that includes fighting and the supernatural. It's about women, yes, in a mythical East Asian country, but it's a fantastical adventure and should be enjoyed as such.

    6. Sisters of the Soul: The Secrets of Jin-sheiAlma Hromick-Deckert has written at least fifteen books, substantial short fiction, lived and worked on four continents, and been a witness to worldwide change along the way. According to one of her web-sites, she was born in 1963 on the shores of the Danube in a country that no longer exists, received several degrees in South Africa, but then found it prudent to leave that land rather than be swept aside by militant forces for cultural change, and eve [...]

    7. This book follows the intertwining lives of half a dozen women, bound together by the sacred bond of jinshei-bo, a relationship of kinship that goes far beyond blood ties. Tai, the prepubescent daughter of a Court seamstress, catches the eye of the young Empress in waiting, Antian, and despite the difference in their stations, they become close. Then Antian is killed in a catastrophic (and wonderfully described) earthquake. With her last breath, she urges Tai to "take care of her sisters". At fi [...]

    8. I'd give this novel a 4.5. It challenged me in a different sense than any other ‘difficult read’ has – the task of differentiating ten protagonists really tested my short and long term memory banks. This initial need to absorb would likely explain why the first volume was so comparatively inert to the rest of the novel. The atmosphere had been built to be peaceful, curious and idealistic – it was set in the Summer Palace – so even the first disruption proved to be a big shock. The dram [...]

    9. I liked this book, but also didn’t. There were A LOT of characters…something like 10 main characters is a wee bit too many. Certainly a few could be cut. The remaining 7 or so characters were great and I enjoyed their growth and relationships between each other. What I didn’t like was the hocus-pocus ghost crap. It wasn’t necessary! It was a great story of friendship and being bound to tradition and a culture. I could have also done without the last chapter. I read the book, I don’t ne [...]

    10. "Jin-shei means 'sister of the heart.' It means that two women who are not bound by ties of blood choose to help and protect one another out in the world." This book is about deeply loyal friendships in medieval China that transcend social class, occupation and age. It's a girl power kind of cast ranging from an Empress to a healer to a seamstress/poet, a guardswoman, and a scholar/alchemist. There are also elements of sorcery and immortality, and the book turns kind of dark towards the end. The [...]

    11. Blood has nothing to do with family as this story of "secret sisters" is unveiled.The writing of this book is magical and it does take you back in time to China. This story is of non-blood sisters who will protect and follow each other to the ends of the earth.Its amazing as you read this story, of how you can relate different "sisters" to your own group of friends. Reading this book, I was attaching the characters with friends in my own circle I draw streagth from.You will not be disappointed w [...]

    12. Incredible!!I absolutely loved this! I loved how it was all about women and a secret language of friendship and sisterhood. I loved how each person had their own set of strengths and weaknesses and how each sister kind of filled in the blanks. The only thing I didn't really like was how little plot there actually was, as the whole "immortality" thing was over too quickly. I also wasn't fond of how most of the sisters died, and horribly. But otherwise, it was a really wonderful story about love, [...]

    13. The lives of sistersThis story takes many surprising turns, and through them, the reader becomes acquainted with a culture, a city, a dynasty. The writer takes you on the journey through the memory of one of a group of women. A group by virtue of their choice to honor a chosen bond of "Jin-shei" —a sisterhood with its own written language, passed down through ages. The characters are diverse, and yet each honors the bond, the promise. A worthy read by a knowledgeable author.

    14. I loved all the strong women characters in this book. Although there were 10 main characters, they were all so different that they were easy to keep apart. I was not expecting the storyline to detour into sorcery and ghost roads, but it was very entertaining. My few complaints are that the stories of Khailin ,Tammary, and Luidan were not really wrapped up except to say they were dead. But then again, that could have added another 100 pages to already long novel.

    15. It can be hard to keep an ensemble cast of characters distinct from one another, and yet Alma Alexander manages to do so in this book. The strength of this story is its characters moreso than the plot. I do wonder if perhaps the central conceit of jin-shei was occasionally overused as a McGuffin to drive the plot forward rather than have it unfold a bit more organically. In some places she could have showed more than told, but overall an engaging read.

    16. I really enjoyed this book. I didn't have any expectations when I started it, so I was pleasantly surprised by the intricate weaving of all the storylines. I found myself captivated to find out what would happen next with each of the characters. My only recommendation is to read the pronunciation key at the end of the book first- I was way off on some of the names!

    17. The story of a group of Chinese girls who come together through their pledge of jin-shei, a sisterhood that binds them for life. They range from an Imperial heir to an orphan who joins the guard, a healer to a sage, a poet to a wanderer. I enjoyed the first part of the story much better than the second as it got long winded and slow in parts.

    18. The Secrets of Jin-shei is like looking at a tapestry. Very vivid and intricate watching the friendships weave together. It is a very enjoyable and thought provoking read. I highly recommend this to who has a best friend you call sister, even if you don't it will inspire you.

    19. I love the strong female characters in this novel about pledged sisterhood. From various walks of life, they become sisters of the heart, pledging fealty to one another. Through good and bad, they struggle for self-realization and end up saving an Empire.

    20. Overall/Tl;drAn impressive book about sisterhood in a China-but-not-China fantasy setting. The first 20% of the book was really very good (I love sisterhood/brotherhood stuff), but I didn't end up enjoying it as much I expected. There's a bit of fantasy, good alternative-history world-building, and lots of characters to read about, but the plotjust didn't work for me.Setting/World-buildingAlternate-China with different names and with a sort of low-fantasy magic. 'Jin-Shei' means sister of the he [...]

    21. In the author's own words, "I consider myself primarily a fantasy writer and Jin-shei a historical fantasy, but the publisher believes the book has enough mainstream appeal to ‘cross over.'" So this book has been marketed to readers of mainstream Asian-themed fiction. However, from my perspective, the book is very definitely within the fantasy genre – although strongly based on Chinese culture and mythology, the land of Syai is not actually China, not to mention that magic and black sorcery [...]

    22. I have to say up front that I read this hard on the heels of ‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ so maybe this is why the book didn’t cut it for me – It just didn’t measure up to the high expectations I had.For me there were too many main characters to try and remember – each of the women could have had their own story told in another book. I felt that the author just spread herself too thin trying to give depth to all the characters – and in the end did each of them less justice than [...]

    23. somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for this one. Read a review which was critical due to the 10 main characters - but I did not have a problem with the names and enjoyed reading this book.

    24. So amazingly good.This is incredible storytelling that weaves and winds and creates an atmosphere that sucks you in. The level of detail was amazing, very intricate, yet still easy to follow.

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