The Imperial China Trilogy: Manchu, Mandarin, and Dynasty

The Imperial China Trilogy: Manchu, Mandarin, and Dynasty

by Robert Elegant

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Overview

The complete New York Times–bestselling trilogy of historical fiction set in China, from an award-winning novelist and Pulitzer Prize finalist in journalism.
 
Spanning over three centuries of Chinese history, New York Times–bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author Robert Elegant takes readers from the opulent courts and complex intrigue of the emperors to the bloody battlefields, and vividly recreates a richly detailed world where the quest for power and pleasure drives men and women to extremes of both loyalty and betrayal. In this special single-volume edition, the novels are presented in chronological historical order.
 
Manchu: In this New York Times bestseller, soldier of fortune Francis Arrowsmith joins a Portuguese expedition to aid the decadent and corrupt Ming dynasty in its fight against the Manchu invaders. He embarks on an epic adventure that will merge his destiny with the fate of China itself.
 
“Does for seventeenth-century China what James Clavell’s Shogun did for sixteenth-century Japan.” —The Christian Science Monitor
 
Mandarin: In nineteenth-century China, imperial rule is crumbling as the Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion rage. On the streets of Shanghai, a Jewish silk merchant tries to save his Chinese partner from a false accusation and corrupt penal system, while in the imperial palace the “Virtuous Concubine” Yehenala contrives to bear the opium-eating, syphilitic emperor’s only son, thus laying the foundation for her elevation to the pinnacle of power in China as the formidable empress dowager.
 
“Exciting, historically accurate, a good read.” —The New York Times
 
Dynasty: A New York Times bestseller, this epic of love and adultery, money and power, set amid the revolutionary turbulence of twentieth-century China, from the fall of the last emperor to the rise of Mao Tse-tung, follows the Sekloong dynasty of Hong Kong, a trading empire founded by Sir Jonathan, the illegitimate offspring of an Irish adventurer and his Chinese mistress, in all its triumphs, tragedies, betrayals, and bloodshed.
 
“An action-packed novel . . . conjured up with perception and vigor.” —The New York Times Book Review
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504053747
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Series: The Imperial China Trilogy
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 3240
Sales rank: 442,698
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

Robert Elegant was born in New York City in 1928. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania at eighteen and, after voluntary US Army service, studied Japanese and advanced Chinese at Yale and Columbia. In 1951, while he was at Columbia, his first book, China’s Red Masters, was published to wide acclaim. He arrived in Asia as a Pulitzer traveling fellow and became one of the youngest American reporters covering the Korean War, scooping the world in 1953 with his exclusive report that an armistice had been agreed upon.

Elegant’s subsequent career included stints as Asia bureau chief for Newsweek and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Both Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger consulted him personally before Nixon made the decision to go to Beijing and reopen relations with China. He has published seventeen books of both fiction and nonfiction, most centered on China. A recipient of several major press awards, his books have been widely translated and many have become bestsellers; he also won an Edgar Award for a political thriller set in Vietnam. Elegant lives with his wife, Rosemary; shih-tzu dogs; and cats in Umbria, Italy, where he is working on more books; writers, he says, never retire.
Robert Elegant was born in New York City in 1928. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania at eighteen and, after voluntary US Army service, studied Japanese and advanced Chinese at Yale and Columbia. In 1951, while he was at Columbia, his first book, China’s Red Masters, was published to wide acclaim. He arrived in Asia as a Pulitzer traveling fellow and became one of the youngest American reporters covering the Korean War, scooping the world in 1953 with his exclusive report that an armistice had been agreed upon.

Elegant’s subsequent career included stints as Asia bureau chief for Newsweek and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Both Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger consulted him personally before Nixon made the decision to go to Beijing and reopen relations with China. He has published seventeen books of both fiction and nonfiction, most centered on China. A recipient of several major press awards, his books have been widely translated and many have become bestsellers; he also won an Edgar Award for a political thriller set in Vietnam. Elegant lives with his wife, Rosemary; shih-tzu dogs; and cats in Umbria, Italy, where he is working on more books; writers, he says, never retire.
 

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THE ARTILLERY OF HEAVEN

June 1624 – February 1632

St. Omer, the Spanish Lowlands

JUNE 20, 1624–OCTOBER 15, 1624

The lead gutter trembled on the high-peaked roof, and the orange-throated robin fluttered into the morning haze. Twittering anxiously, she flew tight circles over the gaping beaks of the late fledglings in her nest of moss and feathers. Suspended between russet roof tiles and sandstone walls, the gutter quivered again. The fledglings cawed in raucous chorus, their incessant hunger displaced for an instant by fear.

Fifty feet below, smoke billowed from the cellar doorway. The leaded panes in the high-arched windows of the first floor vibrated violently when a second and a third explosion shook the monumental building. A fog of black-powder fumes lay over the quadrangle enclosed by the sheer walls. As a fourth explosion shattered the cloistered serenity of the English College of St. Omer at dawn on June 20, 1624, a lanky youth wearing a black clerical robe erupted from the cellar doorway.

Gasping and coughing, the youth doubled over with nausea. His brown eyes, streaming with tears, peered from his soot-blackened face like holes in a mask. His robe was torn and scorched, but his grimy hands clung to a broad-brimmed shovel hat more fitting to a staid middle-aged parish priest than a frightened seventeen-year-old.

"Francis! Francis Arrowsmith!" The Headmaster's bellow transfixed the culprit. "What have you done this time? Is there never to be an end to your deviltry?"

"Nothing, Father ... really nothing at all." There was something foreign about the youth's accent despite the elided vowels and metallic consonants of the Duchy of Lancaster, three hundred miles distant across the English Channel. "That is ... hardly anything. I was just experimenting with ..."

"Francis, my dearly beloved son, what am I to do with you?" The Headmaster's exasperation gave way to concern as he advanced, the winglike sleeves of his Jesuit cassock flying behind him. "What is to become of you?"

"I don't know, Father. Really I don't. I'm sorry ... very sorry. I thought this time ..."

The youth settled his black shovel hat on his head with both hands. Filmed by smoke, his long blond hair was spotted with scorch marks.

"I blame myself, Francis, not you." The Headmaster glared at the faces of boys and masters gaping through the windows, and they vanished. "An orphan delivered to my care, and I have failed miserably. Where have I erred? How have I failed to touch your soul?"

"I do not know, Father. But it was only a small explosion. I promise it won't happen ..."

"You were making gunpowder again, Francis?"

"Yes, Father!"

"When you should have been in Father Pearson's class in homiletics. I've told you. Everything in its time and place. ... And never attempt alchemy without supervision. Next time, the Lord knows, you could blow up the whole College. How many times have I told you?"

"Many times, Father. Quite a number, I know."

The Jesuit glanced sharply, but read neither insolence nor defiance on the youth's features. Francis Arrowsmith appeared disarmingly repentant because tears had traced broad runnels in the soot on his cheeks.

"Francis, I fear you may have no true vocation for the priesthood. Your classmates, those who are not called, will return to England. Even in a kingdom ruled by heretics, they will be Catholic gentlemen. ... They have their families and their lands. But you have no kin and no property. If you are not a priest, what will you be?"

"I will be a priest, Father. I promise you I'll study harder. I want only to be a priest of the Society of Jesus."

"I doubt that, Francis. You are stirred more by the trumpet's blare than by plainsong. The sword's hilt fits your hand far better than the chalice. Caesar you love, but Cicero, even Vergil, you muddle. Though I must admit you speak Latin not badly."

"Thank you, Father." Again that elusive false note. "I am not utterly hopeless, then?"

"We are men of peace, not war," the baffled Jesuit persisted. "You are not meant to be a priest. Remember your mother's wishes and put aside this martial nonsense. ... Put it out of your head entirely."

"I'll try, Father." Francis saw a glint of amused compassion in the dark blue eyes beneath the Jesuit's frowning brows. "I'll try hard. I promise."

His Headmaster was suspicious, but Francis Arrowsmith's promise was utterly sincere. Not only gratitude bound him to the Society of Jesus, but all his hopes for the future. If he were not a priest of the Society, he would be nothing in this world.

Francis again swore he would strive to fulfill the expectations his mother had impressed upon him eight years earlier when she gave him into the care of the Jesuit Fathers of the English College of St. Omer, some fifty miles from Calais in the Spanish Provinces of France. A year later Marie Dulonge Arrowsmith had joined her beloved husband Peter in the grave, not loath to depart from a world that had held no joy for her since his death in battle against the Protestants. Francis could still hear her voice in his ear: "Be a priest, my son, a man of God, not a man of blood like your father."

Francis idolized the father he had never known, for Peter Arrowsmith had died in June 1607, only four months after the birth of his only child. Francis had adored his mother, so gravely loving in her widow's dress.

For his Dulonge grandparents, who dutifully visited him once a year, Francis felt nothing, though he cherished the crude miniature portrait of his auburn-haired mother that was their only gift to him. Those stodgy burghers of the Spanish Lowlands had never been reconciled to their daughter's marriage to a penniless English exile. They grudgingly acknowledged Peter Arrowsmith's outstanding devotion to the True Faith, which had driven him from Lancashire after his yeoman family was stripped of its lands because of its staunch Catholicism. But the Dulonges had despised Peter Arrowsmith for his poverty, and they were delighted to be rid of the headstrong grandson their wayward daughter had foisted upon them.

Only one Englishman did the stolid Dulonges praise: Father Edmond Arrowsmith, who lay at that moment in a cell in London awaiting the headsman's axe. The Fathers of St. Omer's had taken Francis in chiefly because Edmond, the son of his uncle Robert, was a Jesuit in the secret mission to heretical England. They had accepted Francis gladly, though the Headmaster soon declared that he regretted his decision.

But his cousin's hand was no longer over Francis. Dead or alive, Edmond Arrowsmith could not abate the storms the youth's unruly temperament called down on his own head. Alone in the world, Francis knew that he must make his own way — and the Jesuits' way was the only way open to him.

His high forehead was wrinkled in contrition beneath its film of soot, and his eyes were repentantly veiled by his thick brown lashes. Nonetheless, his finely arched nose appeared assertive in his slender face. Though he wolfed the College's substantial midday meals, he had just attained his full height of almost six feet and his frame had not yet filled out. The quasi-cassock of a scholar of St. Omer's hung loose on his spare body.

Struck again by the unlikely combination of light brown eyes and blond hair, the Headmaster pondered again his pupil's inherent contradictions. Wholly open and honest, Francis was also stubborn and rebellious. Almost despairing of making the youth a good priest, the Headmaster wondered if it were wise to persist. A priest who was too handsome could be a curse to himself — and his flock. If Francis's boyish arrogance, untempered by female affection for many years, should persist, he would be far too attractive to the ladies. Perhaps, the Headmaster mused, it would be better for the boy to be a soldier. But he had promised Marie Dulonge Arrowsmith he would make Francis a priest.

"All right, my son, let me have your hand. This time I'll let you off easy. But, I promise you, next time ..." The leather ferrula — a foot long, three inches wide, and thick as a bootsole — lashed Francis's palm twenty times. Dismissed, he scurried toward the main gate, blowing on his swollen hand. Pride kept him from running to the horse trough whose water would cool the pain. Just before he reached the gate, the Headmaster's voice halted him.

"Francis, tomorrow is the month's holiday. But you won't be playing rounders at Blandyke. You will attend upon our guest, that young priest from Rome, Father Giulio di Giaccomo. And, Francis, you will speak Latin to him."

Two days later, the green flag bearing the double-barred white Cross of St. Omer fluttered in the afternoon breeze over the College. The school's premises had expanded manyfold in the four decades since the fugitive English Jesuits had gratefully accepted the hospitality of St. Omer. Visitors from England, where the great properties of the Roman Catholic Church had been confiscated by the Crown, would sometimes stand stock-still on first seeing the massive sandstone edifice and breathe: "By God, it's more like a palace than a school."

Keeping alight the flame of English Catholicism in Spanish-ruled France by educating English Catholic gentlemen had, however, been no light task. The priests had been harassed not only by the heretical British monarchy but also by the local authorities until His Most Catholic Majesty, King Philip of Spain and Portugal, extended his personal protection and his personal patronage to the exiles. In the summer of 1624, some one hundred fifty boys from ten to nineteen years old pursued a rigorous classical curriculum leavened with mathematics and the new physical sciences that piqued the intellectual curiosity of their Jesuit masters. Seven to eight years of study uninterrupted by any vacation was hardly long enough for all they had to learn.

His black robe newly darned and his fair skin glowing after vigorous scrubbing, Francis Arrowsmith sat in the front row of the somnolent assembly in the Great Hall of the College. Neither his age nor his standing entitled him to that eminence. Still mired at seventeen in the middle grade, called Poetry, he was usually banished to the last row for inattention to religious studies. Neither his erratic charm nor his enthusiastic participation in the three-hour-long Latin dramas the College loved could excuse his frequent truancy to visit the nearby barracks of the Spanish Guards. But he was allotted a place of honor that afternoon because of his leading role in the pageant that had belatedly celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the College and also because he had discharged so well the task the Headmaster had imposed upon him as punishment.

Francis had waited with exemplary care upon the twenty-nine-year-old Italian priest who came to tell the College of the enterprise that was the glory of the militant Society of Jesus. Father Giulio di Giaccomo, ordained only a year earlier, was himself destined for the Mission to the Great Ming Empire, where a few score supernally dedicated priests carried the light of the True Faith to some one hundred fifty million pagans.

While awaiting embarkation on the two-year voyage to the Portuguese settlement of Macao on the edge of China, Father Giulio di Giaccomo had been assigned a task the Father General in Rome considered almost as important. With a score of others, he brought news of the brilliant progress of the China Mission to the chief Catholic burghers, noblemen, and princes of Europe — and to the Jesuit colleges that would provide recruits for the Holy Mission. Propaganda Fidei the Church called the sacred task of propagating the Faith. The Jesuits vigorously publicized their successes in order to draw from the laity essential financial and spiritual support. Confusing the two endeavors, men also called the work of publicization propaganda.

Almost alone among the schoolboys, Francis was not distracted by the buzzing of the honeybees or the shouts of the herdsmen in the green fields that surrounded the College. He intently watched the plump Italian priest, who looked on the world through round, dark eyes like those of tan-and-white Friesian cattle. Despite his indolently genial manner, Giulio di Giaccomo was inspired by soaring enthusiasm for the China Mission. He had that morning displayed his treasures to Francis, lifting them as reverently as sacred relics from a leather box carved with scarlet-and-gilt patterns.

"A Mandarin's traveling casket," he explained. "They use them to hold their papers when away from home."

"Mandarin?" Francis asked. "Qui est hoc? ... What is that?"

"Ah, yes." The priest's full red lips smiled. "You don't know, of course. The name comes from mandar, Portuguese for command. So we call the learned officials of the Great Ming Empire, who are as like to Plato's ideal of the perfect philosopher-king as any mortal can be."

"Mandarin ... Mandarin." Francis rolled the sounds dubiously on his tongue. "A strange word, I think."

"But no more strange than many things in that wondrous Empire. Even more wonderful ... this."

The Jesuit uncoiled a roll of paper from a wooden cylinder. Francis saw an ink drawing of two middle-aged men standing before an altar. The altar cloth bore the familiar inscription IHS, In Hoc Signo, while a painting of the Madonna and Child hung on the wall behind them between placards with angular symbols. The man on the left wore a full white beard, and his nose was long between large eyes. The chin of the other was adorned by a pointed goatee, and his eyes were peculiarly tilted. Both wore flowing robes and tall black hats unlike any Francis had ever seen.

"Father Matthew Ricci, the holy pioneer of the Mission to China, now gathered unto the Lord," Father di Giaccomo explained. "And, beside him, Dr. Paul Hsü, the great Mandarin who is the chief pillar of Holy Church in the Empire of China."

Francis felt a proprietary attachment to that scroll drawing, now displayed on an easel beside the young Italian. Two quite different pictures flanked it. One was a highly realistic painting of Matthew Ricci with the great sun of the Orient ablaze behind him and a Latin inscription reading Father M. Ricci of Macareta in Italy who, first of all the Society of Jesus, preached the True Gospel in China. The other was a charcoal sketch of a Jesuit missionary in the full dress of a Chinese gentleman with high-peaked hat and voluminous sleeves.

Francis's eyes strayed to the glowing colors of the altarpiece done by the same Peter Paul Rubens who had sketched the missionary. Gazing at the swelling bosoms of the ladies attending the Blessed Virgin Mary he felt a thrill of guilty pleasure. But he was drawn back to the charcoal sketch.

The painting was — he struggled to formulate his thought — Holy Church in Europe, Christendom already mature and complete. The sketch represented Holy Church in the mysterious Empire of the Ming, where the Jesuits had begun their endeavors some four decades earlier. Was it not more worthy — and more exciting — to be at the beginning, rather than the fruition?

"... many things in China more wondrous than anything ever dreamed of in Europe." The Italian priest's eloquence was Ciceronian, as were the rolling cadences of his Latin address. "Only by becoming one with the Chinese ... only by first adopting their customs and imbibing their learning could the Society bring the True Faith to the Chinese. That is why the priests wear the robes of Chinese Mandarins and assiduously study both the spoken tongue and the classical writings of China.

"The pioneer and the guide in this difficult adaptation was Father Matthew Ricci, whose journal is today the most widely read book in all Europe. Yet the holy Father Matthew, who now lies buried in Peking, the capital of the Ming Empire, did but make a beginning. The greater work is still to be done ... to bring more than a hundred million souls to Christ's salvation."

The priest paused to sip beer from a pewter cup. The English were truly different, he reflected with an involuntary grimace. Who else would drink thin beer when he could drink rich wine? Still, he had won the attention of both the English schoolboys and their cool masters who were, perforce, his brothers in the Society. But none was as raptly attentive as the gawky Francis Arrowsmith, his guide at the College. Giulio di Giaccomo decided to offer them a jest in return for their courtesy.

"Father Matthew Ricci himself declared shortly before he was gathered unto the Lord that the greater tasks remained. He said: 'I have done all I could to make myself Chinese, learning their difficult tongue and their intricate writing, adopting all their customs, and clothing myself after their fashion. If only I could make this long, thin nose of mine short and flat, if only I could make these great staring eyes of mine small, oblique, and dark, then I should be perfectly Chinese. But that boon the Lord has denied me.'"

(Continues…)


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Table of Contents

MANCHU,
Author's Note,
The Artillery Of Heaven: June 1624 – February 1632,
The Wrath of Heaven: July 1632 – June 1644,
The Mandate Op Heaven: January 1645 – September 1652,
MANDARIN,
Book I April 11, 1854–October 21, 1855: The Settlement,
Book II April 1, 1856–November 7, 1856: The Heavenly Kingdom,
Book III August 24, 1860–September 1, 1864: The Collapse,
Book IV March 7, 1872–January 14, 1875: The Restoration,
DYNASTY,
Part I Mary: May 28, 1900–December 26, 1900,
Part II Mary and Charles: February 4, 1905–November 16, 1906,
Part III Mary and Harry: November 13, 1908–September 11, 1909,
Part IV Mary and Jonathan: December 6, 1911–June 18, 1916,
Part V Thomas and James: March 2, 1924–December 15, 1927,
Part VI James and Harry: July 7, 1937–December 9, 1944,
Part VII The Sekloongs and the Lao Pai-Hsing: November 28, 1950–February 22, 1959,
Part VIII Albert and the Red Guards: October 24, 1965–September 26, 1967,
About the Author,

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