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Empire of Tears
Volume 1 : The Opium War

A fugitive dancer, a prince turned traitor by love, a child whose life is in danger, a young rebellious English woman…

The destinies of Jose Freches’ characters come together to form the canvas on which the author portrays this wondrous story full of life, set against the backdrop of a fascinating depiction of China.

The time is 1860, the place, the Summer Palace in Beijing, which is to the emperors of China what Versailles was to the King of France, and which has just been savagely pillaged, ravaged by the French and English armies. The two European nations are destroying this age old empire, whose story stretches back across millennia… Their main ally in this dishonourable quest is opium. A few centuries ago, opium was considered a medicinal drug, and was also known as “The paste of happiness and longevity”. With the arrival of the occidentals, the Chinese referred to it as “black mud”. The French and the English would buy it cheaply in India and import it into China as a way of making the population as passive and docile as possible.

In a sale of objects stolen from the Summer Palace, John Bowles, an English journalist, spends all his savings on securing himself a precious little chest that belonged to the previous emperor, Daoguang. When he is the winning bid for it, he could cry for joy. In his hands lies the unquestionable proof of an incredible story that he has been investigating for five years. A story which began with his encounter with a little boy, called Moon Stone, hounded by the all powerful clan of eunuchs, whose origins are much more mysterious than he thinks…

Author's interview

I have been in love with China ever since I can remember. I learned Chinese at the time I was 18, later I became Curator of the fabulous Asian collection at the Guimet museum in Paris.

My new novel is set in the 19th century, at the time of the Opium War, waged by the British Empire. To even the balance of trade, the English force the Chinese to buy the opium they produce in India. A colonial war follows, the first of the kind.

Today, globalisation, and the problems it entails, seem like a mere trifle when compared with the violence that ensued from the confrontation between the West and the Middle Kingdom between 1840 and 1860, rounded off with the plunder and the torching by the Anglo-French coalition of the Summer Palace.

Yesterday, China was reduced to the state of colony by the West…
What if, tomorrow, she is tempted to pay it back in kind?


Foreign versions

Sold in 6 languages

  • Czech Republic: Euromedia
    Poland: Albatros
  • Portugal: Bertrand Editora
    Romania: Editura Allfa
  • Slovakia: Ikar
    Spain: Martinez Roca (Planeta)

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