Yaquian raises silkworms in the country, her family is poor, but she finds happiness in her simple life. When she displays talent with her needlework, she is sent to Peking to learn the art of embroidery at the age of seven. As she matures, Yaquian finds herself in the imperial court where she sees opulence and riches, but also treachery and danger. She will feel the love of a prince, the desire of a king and watch as an entire dynasty collapses. Rich in historical detail, Roberts does not shy away from the cruelty women endured during a time when they were little more than chattel or bargaining chips in a world of male dominance.