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Imagine a civil war that left 150 million people dead. A war waged ruthlessly by the Emperor against his own helpless people. A war continued against all odds by a rebel leader who thought himself the brother of Jesus Christ. The Americans, British and French were caught up in the catastrophe that ensued.

Frederick T Ward leads a band of mercenaries against the Taiping rebels. He may find Chinese customs primitive, but that's no reason not to make money out of them. Harry Lindley is searching for his missionary father. They are on a journey into the interior ...

At the heart of the Celestial Realm, the Emperor is oblivious to these 'foreign devils'. Dazed by opulence and opium, nor does he notice the vicious internecine struggles around him - on one side his ministers, who see no obstacle but a little bloodshed between them and vast fortunes; on the other, swathed in silk and jewels, the implacable figure of the Emperor's first concubine.

This was an extraordinary period in Chinese history, and “Barbarians” follows the exploits of two real-life figures, one an Englishman and the other an American, in Shanghai, while the politics of the Manchu court are centred upon the extraordinary girl, Yehonala, who rose from concubine to become the all-powerful “Queen Victoria of China .“

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