An outcast foreigner. A quiet lover. The fate of the Far East.
China, 1854. Robert Hart is on the run. Fleeing Ireland to escape a promiscuity scandal, the syphilitic nineteen-year-old arrives in the Middle Kingdom at the height of the Qing Dynasty. And though he buys a woman to share his bed, the libidinous Westerner has no idea she will help him shape the course of a nation.
With the insight into the culture and language his beautiful concubine provides, Hart helps the emperor put down the bloody Taiping Rebellion. And as he fights against scheming Brits and Americans during the Opium Wars, the courageous preacher’s son rises to an unprecedented level of trust within the Chinese royal family.