Set in the fictional empire of Saiunkoku, the story centers on Shurei Kou, a descendant of a noblefamily that has fallen on hard times. Her father works as a librarian in the Imperial palace, a post which offers prestige and respect, but little compensation. Shurei teaches in the temple school and works odd jobs to make ends meet, but her dream is to pass the imperial examinations and take a post in government, a path forbidden to women.
Shurei's plans come to an abrupt halt when the Emperor's Grand Advisor makes a startling offer for her to join the imperial household for six months as the young Emperor's consort and teach theEmperor to be a responsible ruler. If she succeeds, the financial reward will be great.
The story details Shurei's growing relationship with the Emperor and other members of the court, the intrigues of imperial politics, and her commitment to better herself and her country.