Jesus fucking Christ, I thought it would never end! When you remember that Gormenghast was based on the Chinese imperial court, it’s easy to understand why this too is bloated, boring, and too weighed down with descriptive detail to advance the plot at any decent pace. Ugh. You are lured in with all the promise of the political intrigue and BAM! you’re stuck with what feels like 13,000 descriptions of what folk were wearing.

And God, I read it thinking, “This is a ridiculous way to organise anything, much less the actual government.” And it’s punctuated with unreflective incidents of terrific cruelty. Just no. Just no.

A cynical mix of historical intrigue heavily bogged down by descriptions of grotesque luxury meant to appeal to a chick lit audience, with the hint but no real deliverance of sex. A well researched marketable product.