The Ming Storytellers

Written by Laura Rahme
Review by Steve Donoghue

Laura Rahme’s sprawling novel, The Ming Storytellers, is set in 15th-century China in the early years of the Ming Dynasty. its many plots and sub-plots center on the interconnected stories of three women: Min Li, a concubine influential with the Emperor Zhu Di, an adventurous Persian traveller named Shahrzad, and an enigmatic storytelling seamstress who is much more than she seems.

Rahme connects these three and a vast array of secondary characters in a story that moves from palace intrigue to international politics (and religion) and feels very sure-footed in both contexts. Rahme includes a short glossary at the back of the book in order to help readers with the many foreign terms and phrases her characters use throughout, but the surest compliment to her own storytelling is how little the reader requires such help during the narrative itself.

This is a long novel that reads quickly and effortlessly, virtually certain to please fans of James Clavell or the T’ang Dynasty novels of Daniel Altieri and Eleanor Cooney.

Highly recommended.