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221 BC"-Ten years of warfare have brought a unified Chinese land. Then Emperor Ying Jeng, Imperial China's creator, disarms the people and commissions a road system uniting key parts of the empire. Weights, measures, laws, monies, and written characters are standardized in a system that will endure for 2000 years. Jeng befriends Marcus Lucius Scipio, a Roman traveler, who twice saves the Emperor's life.
Marcus meets and falls in love with Ming Tien, a Chinese scholar and former nun. Ming becomes pregnant and goes off to have her baby without telling Marcus, but the lie haunts their relationship. When a drunken Emperor Jeng accosts Ming, she chooses suicide. Marcus, accused and held for Ming's murder, is later released to claim his daughter on order from the Emperor. But what will the future hold for this Roman and his Chinese daughter?
Peasants, local officials, aristocrats, and organized crime syndicate members are caught up in the drama of the empire's forging, vividly depicted through the eyes of a historian intent on telling the history of the first Emperor of China in "Emperor : A Romance of Ancient China."