From Publishers Weekly The first book in a projected series of seven is set 200 years in the future, when the world's 34 billion people are ruled by a sort of pre-Communist version of China. Monarchs have ruthlessly suppressed all knowledge of pre-Empire conditions and technology, hoping to maintain their fragile control as some Europeans push for the right to build a starship. Court intrigue, propriety and "face" count for more than talent or skill in this clearly evoked, decadent and threatened society. While this first novel from Wingrove, co-author of the Hugo Award-winning Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction , is easy to read, it suffers from cardboard characterizations, indecisive plotting and seemingly arbitrary closing. From Library Journal When a 600-page novel peopled by dozens of characters and complicated by complex layers of intrigue leaves one eager for more, then something very exciting has been created. Wingrove's novel of the 22nd century, in which China rules the world's 39 billion people, is an imaginative, fast-paced exploration of the future. As the Chinese ideals of harmony and order are challenged by the restive Europeans' thirst for change and progress, a rift forms that points the world toward a devastating war. Neatly dovetailed story lines, well-paced plotting, and exotic, intriguing characters are definite pluses. This first novel premieres a planned series of seven. Highly recommended.