Mei was born in a barren cave in northern China where the hundred or so men fight for food and water, often fatally. Age 11, Mei flees west, trudges for weeks till a camp welcomes her.
She is fascinated by a scribe’s work and he gives her a pad and brush.
Her magical designs become medicine for those with emotional problems and her fame reaches a Mongol chief who sends warriors to capture her. He quickly falls under her benign spell.
She saves their daughter and partner when they recklessly try to steal a snow leopard cub, provoking the attack of the mother. That rescue doesn’t make the girl less headstrong, nor the boy less captivated, creating a subplot.
Mei influences everyone, including her husband chief, his suspicious mother and charmed sister.
She counsels, sins and sacrifices, carving a legendary trail, easy for others to walk but difficult to understand. Her fearlessness guides followers to courage and inspiration, except perhaps, her wild daughter and her adoring partner.
There is romance and the essential love ingredient, sex, dangerous raids, injuries, and risky ventures.
What else could one want?