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The Last Empress: The She-Dragon of China
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In 1856 Emperor Hsien Feng turned over an ornately carved jade name-plaque next to his bedchamber, an action with which he brought a much-desired new concubine to his bed and unwittingly sealed the fate of the Manchu dynasty. A centuries-old prophecy had foretold that Manchu rule in China would be brought to ruin by a woman from the Yeho-Nala tribe; in the darkness of the bedchamber those words became reality. The Emperor was entranced with the young woman he had chosen, and from that time her power over him was ensured. Her name was Yehonala.Forced to enter the Forbidden City at the age of sixteen Yehonala lost her family, her betrothed and the life she had sought. She was entering a world of opulence, scholarship, intrigue and power struggles; a world that had remained for centuries untouched by the outside world or the passing of time, ruled by etiquette and tradition but with danger in every word or gesture. The beautiful young girl proved herself equal to all the court. She rose to be one of the greatest female autocrats in history, the most powerful person in China, maintaining her power with a mixture of seduction, intrigue, manipulation and even murder.