I’ve added additional notes to the glossary that give an explanation on the Chinese meaning of some character names.
These will be expanded upon as I come across or think of more noteworthy names that need some explaining.
As I said before, I won’t be providing an exhaustive list of characters in the glossary, but someone has taken the initiative to create a wiki:
Here’s a slightly more in-depth look at the Divine Empress than what I’ve added to the glossary:
The Divine Empress is heavily based off the sole female Emperor of China, Wu Zetian (the Zetian here is not the same as the novel’s Ze Tian).
Wu Zetian was the Empress Consort (just Empress for short) of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, note that she is an Empress due to the Chinese Imperial Dynasty system and not a Queen, which would imply a non-imperialistic country that is ruled by a King.
It should also be noted that the Chinese character for “King” is often translated as “Prince” in English, this has more to do with Kings being lower in rank than the Emperor in China, which would have created a problem for the monarchs of Europe to have translated Chinese terms and texts retaining the submissive roles of “Kings”.
She obtained power in court during the life of her husband and maintained it as Empress Dowager, deposing her sons and eventually taking the formal position of Emperor.
The Tang Dynasty was briefly changed to the Zhou Dynasty during her reign as Emperor, based upon ideas of her lineage.
Her own clan petitioned heavily for her to make one of her nephews Crown Prince, but one of the arguments given by an official was that a nephew is not as closely related to her as her own son and that a nephew will never build an ancestral temple for her, nor worship Emperor Gaozong.
This extends to something oft-said in Chinese culture (specifically Confucist ideals):
“There are three unfilial transgressions, of which, having no heir is the greatest.”
This is based upon older notions from ancestor worship for the Chinese, where it is believed that once a person dies, they require sacrificial offerings from their descendants in order to continue existing in the afterlife. Which means having no heirs is equal to you and all your ancestors disappearing completely after death.
The Divine Empress is not referred to as “Emperor” in the story, even though she is currently ruling, but continues to be referred to as “Empress/Empress consort”, she does however, refer to herself using the royal pronoun reserved for the Emperor.