Paulette is sent on a mission to China with the words of her mentor ringing in her ears. “A hot wind is now fanning the flames of racism in China, Paulette." Said Lady Ellen Terry. "And, like dust in a drought, it has blown up an army. They call themselves 'the boxers’ society of righteous and harmonious fists,' or some variation thereof, and practice rituals that they claim bestow invulnerability and more. They are ill-armed and poorly trained but potentially numberless.
“Recently an auxiliary movement has sprung up. Reportedly consisting of young virgin women, from the ages of 12 to 18 and accounted uncommonly beautiful. They carry the name “Red Lanterns,” and claim the powers of flight, fire-starting, and miraculous healing. It is these I wish you to investigate for any sign of Kindred activity.
“More to the point, however, and though the Boxers alone present a threat through sheer force of numbers, the Dowager is perched upon a knife edge. Two camps of courtiers vie for her attention, moderates who would have her eliminate the Boxers for fear that, with the foreigners gone, they would turn upon her throne; and conservatives who urge her to throw in her hand with them to rid the Empire off all peoples and technologies from beyond its borders.”
She is to face great danger and the very real risk that despite her remarkable powers she will not survive. It will take skill and courage to avoid the multiple perils, and risk of exposure for what she really is, that await her in an increasingly turbulent China.
Bruce Woods is the author of Royal Blood.