Last week the Ghosts of the Past debuted in Chinese language edition thanks to the careful work of some of the best translators in all of Beijing. One measure of feedback I received from my editor was just how dark and sexy the book was. Given my well deserved scholarly reputation as a historian, Ghosts of the Past and its equally saucy sequel Princess Anyu Returns might seem out of place from the rest of my work. Out of place until you look deeper into history and explore the treacherous realm of sexual politics that was the experience for most medieval noble and royal women.
Life for women has always been somewhat of a treacherous experience filled with dangers. With few or no legal rights or protections, women rarely decided for themselves who to have sex with, let alone marry. Instead the men in their families, their governments, and their religions held almost complete control over their bodies. Among women of high social status this meant that women’s bodies were tools for gaining wealth, power, and social status by those in position to use them.
This social and political reality for women underscores the sometimes brutally dark sides to Beinarian society. Sex and childbearing are tools the villains (both female and male) use at their leisure to impose their will on others, advancing mysterious agendas that only become clear after Princess Anyu Returns from her exile. These agendas add spice to both Ghosts of the Past and Princess Anyu Returns with twists and turns around every corner. Villains use sex and violence freely to achieve their goals, predating on the innocent and using every method at their disposal to thwart the heroes and heroines. They are just as likely to kill as seduce and use offspring created at the expense of their enemies as weapons against them.
It is a dark, dystopic realm where only the bravest dare tread.
Are you brave enough to travel there?