A fantasy novel, written by C.J. Cherryh, set in the fictional country Chiyaden, which is obviously modelled after ancient China.

Shoka is a sword master who once moved in the highest circles of the court and was teacher of the future emperor. However, there was a coup d'etat, and now he's been living in exile for some years. One day, a young girl (disguising as a boy at first) named Taizu approaches him and asks him to teach her so that she can take revenge on the people who killed her family (indirectly the same people who exiled Shoka). He refuses vehemently at first, but through persistence and quickness of mind, Taizu manages to become his student. Shoka hopes that she will forget about her past and get on with life, but eventually, Taizu decides she's learned enough and wants to leave. Shoka, who has fallen in love with her (and she with him), comes with her. When they reach Chiyaden, rumors of Shoka's return quickly destroy all semblance of stability that was left in the country (not much) and causes an outright civil war...

Good stuff. Read.

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