I recently read a novel on a princess of ancient Japan who was in the thick of a corrupt government. The figurehead leader, the emperor, was pampered and coaxed into a lazy life of symbolizing goodness and prosperity to the people, while the person with the real power, his mother, the empress, influenced and manipulated him so that she had everyone on strings. The main character, the princess, was the emperor’s half-sister. She wasn’t very close to him, but was still effected greatly by the empress’s hunger for power. The empress controlled her life and did everything that the princess’s mother was meant to do traditionally. The empress chose the princess’s husband and planned special rite-of-passage ceremonies. The princess was forced to watch and listen to her life being wasted away for someone else’s master plan. Unlike her half brother, she was aware that her world was going up in flames.
She corresponded with a sweetheart apart from the one the empress had appointed, and secretly performed the important ceremonies with her mother. Her real mother.