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Jin Shei Books In Order

Publication Order of Jin-Shei Books

The Secrets of Jin-Shei (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Embers of Heaven (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jin-Shei is a set of mystery-historical novels written by Alma Alexander. The series is set in ancient China and revolves around the lives of eight women: a poet, sage, a soldier, an alchemist, a rebel, a healer, an empress and a gypsy. The series comprises of two novels The Secrets of Jin-shei (2003) and The Embers of Heaven (2006).

The Secrets of Jin-Shei

The Secrets of Jin-Shei is the first novel in Jin-shei series. In this first book, we meet Tai, the poet woman whom the main story revolves around and then proceed to meet the other seven women little by little. You get to meet them make their first jin-shei friendship and then continue for another 20 years as they enter adulthood and each of them finds her purpose in life.

A Jin-shei is a type of relationship that the girls make by speaking the words to each other and creating life-long relationships that surpass the social station. It is through this relationship that these eight women are bonded together by an entirely loyal and eternal friendship. However, their friendships are not perfect, they are all distinct women, and while they ultimately try hard to help each other out, some of them make some demands that could destroy their friendship and even put the lives of jin-shei sisters in danger.

The novel is set in a mythical ancient China, Syai and the royal titles are afforded a big deal of autonomy in this series. The setting is well developed, and the author creates the images so well such that the readers can see the change of seasons, feel the pressure of the societal expectations, and the bustle of the city as well. However, despite these societal expectations of the culture deeply rooted in religion, tradition, and station, all of these girls devour the rules in their way.

The lead character, Tai is the child of a palace seamstress. By chance, she meets Antian a member of the loyal family and a consequential chart about poetry and art leader the princess to offer her a pact of Jin-shei- sisterhood between them. Unfortunately, this bond does not last forever as the royal family dies in an earthquake during a mountain retreat.

Fortunately, Tai survives, and the dying Antian begs her to oversee the well-being of her sister. Liudan is the only sister that Tai is aware of, the one who stayed back at home and never experienced the earthquake. She is an unwanted sister who is angry that she has never had a single shot at the throne until now, but when she steps up, she does it in a classic style thus refusing to get married and deciding to rule the kingdom unmarried.

The main antagonist of this story is Lihui, the 9th Sage who is a fully pledged sorcerer. He kidnaps beggars and cripples off the street for his torturous experiments and occasionally kills them, steals their soul to increase his life span. He gets involved among the eight member clique and ends up marrying one of them and almost killing another.

The novel pace is fast and steady, particularly when the lives of the main characters are threatened by death threats, impossible demands, kidnappings, intense confrontations and other serious tragedies.

Other than the fast and the steady pace, the author, Alexander does a wonderful of telling the narrative from the different point of view and does it consistently throughout the novels. The different POV is a significant aspect of writing as it enables you as the readers understand different characters, their emotions as well as their characteristics. The novel explores the extent of friendship and the lengths that women will go to protect as well honor each other while also telling the tragedy that befalls those who abuse friendship for their own selfish purposes.

The Embers of Heaven

The Embers of Heaven is the second novel in jin-shei series by Alma Alexander. It is a historical fantasy set in Syai (an alternate China) in the mid 20th century during the transitional period between the old systems and the new systems of rule. The main protagonist of this novel is Amais whom for her entire life, she has been groomed by her grandmother, a banished relic of the Imperial era.

As a little girl, Amais was torn between two families; there was her grandmother who taught her of the ancient women language, Jin-ashu, the communication of her royal ancestors, the mild language of things. On the other hand, there was Amais father, a fisherman and a commoner who often taught her the secrets of the sea, who introduced her to dolphins in a cove, a place of rendezvous with these gentle sea creatures. Unfortunately, he died.

Her mother then decided to take her only two daughters back to the land of her ancestors in the midst of a bitter battle between her and her mother in law, Elena. Despite this power struggles, both grandmothers placed their claims on the two daughters, Amais the oldest and Nika the youngest who was born the day her dad drowned in his fishing boat and this made the rift bigger between the two grandmothers from different social classes. Nika had two names due to the grandmothers insisting on naming the child.

For the 9-year-old Amais the sea voyage between Elaas and the land of her ancestors, Syai would be a place where her troubled past the brighter future were lost and born. However, she would later find a deeper mission by way of her dreams in which her ancestors would guide her on how to reach her destiny.

Amais accepts her fate and returns to her ancestral land determined to find the revered sisterhood and everything about this sisterhood. In her ancestral land, she experiences regret, disillusionment, fulfillment, purpose, and love in all forms.

There is the second main character Iloh- who is a peasant boy. His past and the future were entirely different things, and he did not care of what he left behind or what the consequences of today would impact his future.

The Embers of Heaven is an excellent historical fantasy novel, and many accurate historical facts form the background of the story. The cast is well crafted; the plot is well written and fast paced. If you love historical fantasy novels, Jin-shei series by Alma Alexander is an excellent series worth your reading time.

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