An overview of China and the beginning of its recognisable features as a modern nation, the documentary frequently sheds light on the often forgotten fact of China's legacy as one of humanities most ancient states.

Michael Wood albeit dryly begins at this ancient beginning, a necessary approach to understand the characteristics modern China in its current form. A nation emerging from 100 years that saw a collapsed empire, colonial exploitation, civil war and a bloody revisionist movement now wants to look back at their roots, Wood's illumination of this is a fascinating exploration.

Beginning with his time spent with the Qin family we see the tradition of family ancestors back as a routine in China, the importance this tradition once begins an examination of over three thousand years of China's history that if events had conspired differently so easily could have been lost.

Wood is a good guide for those unfamiliar with China's history, he has taken us as far back and as bare bones as we can currently lay out with current findings. This is a real benefit for two reasons, China for many remains an imposing and unfamiliar area of history, the opener has given them bearings with near mythological staples of China's past along with somewhat more recognisable figures such as Confucius.

Along with this explanations of China's ancient formation can simply be difficult to understand, and the opener helps us understand why this is, with the presence of often numerous mythological explanations for how events transpired.

The divine nature of rule that once governed China is a fascinating example of this, as we in Britain were taught Kings and Queens were able to rule through the divine right of kings, power was awarded to rule absolutely granted by god. In China something similar came about in how rulers claimed their mantle of power, they were to bring balance to the very forces of the cosmos through their position, the mandate of heaven.

Wood had a very difficult task in presenting a vast and unfamiliar area of China's history to a BBC audience, he has done well and all the more when considering it was filtered within an hour time slot. The series is likely to be a considerable favourite of curious but unfamiliar students of Chinese history, but Wood's presentation is simply an absorbing piece of unearthed antiquity.

Currently based in Manchester, studied politics and history but wanted to review television and movies as well.

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