Shan Sa follows her previous and internationally successful novels, The Girl Who Played Go and Empress, with a new novel set in medieval China, The Naked Zither. The novel is set in two eras—the early fifth century and the late sixth century, nearly two hundred years later—and shows us how gracefully love and music can transcend time.
Medieval China is in political turmoil; the Chinese empire and its nobility are under attack by nomadic tribes in waves of invasions that first topple the Han Dynasty and then the Jin Dynasty. The country is divided in two, and the Chinese—who continue to unite around an emperor—are forced south of the Yangtze.
A young high-caste girl, innocent physically and emotionally and accustomed to a life surrounded by beauty and the arts, is kidnapped and taken in marriage by an ambitious peasant soldier of the south. Thrust into a life that is unfamiliar to her in every way, she accompanies him into military life as he rises quickly through the ranks. Together they reach the Forbidden City and she becomes empress by his side. Two hundred years later, a young zither maker desecrates a mysterious tomb and takes the wood of a centuries-old sarcophagus to transform it into a rare seven-stringed lute—a replica of the zither played by the legendary empress. The zither's songs cross time, carrying love with them across the generations.
The Naked Zither is an erotic, poetic, and unforgettable historical novel.