A friend loaned me this book as she knows how much I like China and said it was a mystery using the characters from Hong lou meng (A dream of red mansions/The story of the stone). Unfortunately there were SOOO many HUGE historical inacuracies I wasn't able to get more than 36 pages into it before I had to give up!
First, there was a problem with the year on page 3. He said it was "The year of the serpent 3,339 (650) AD". Chinese dates have never been given in thousands of years, but would be given with the dynasty, emperor, and reign period (In this case Tang Ming Huang). Then in the next paragraph he mentioned "The goddess Guan Yin". Now Guan Yin during the Tang dynasty was still the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara and had yet to undergo her gender transformation (which happened in the Sung several hundred years later).
The author then had characters discussing how one woman was persecuted by the "neo-Confucians" now I know that the term Neo-Confucian would never be uttered by Chinese people of the period as it is a western term but could see it being used. But it also didn't start till the Sung!!!!! Hundreds of years after the story. Not to mention she was being persecuted because the neo-Confucians didn't believe a woman could be competent, when a woman had been Emperor, just over 30 years before this story was set!
Then they began talking of the Emperor "Wu Di" by which I was able to determine they meant "Han Wu Di", but just referring to the Emperor Wu, when there were so many who claimed that name (The most recent to 650 being of course Wu Zetian!) seemed ridiculous.
Then there was something about a forgery of Sima Chien's calligraphy and I just gave up! If you're looking for a Chinese mystery set in the Tang I'd definitely recommend Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries instead! They also have a few historical inaccuracies (which he acknowledges as they are based on Ming stories) but are done so much better!...Continua