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The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing…
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The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, 1) (edition 2020)

by Nghi Vo (Author)

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1,2816615,339 (4.1)76
A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor's lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She's a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.… (more)
Member:Reece_and_Zoe
Title:The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, 1)
Authors:Nghi Vo (Author)
Info:Tordotcom (2020), 128 pages
Collections:Books, Your library
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The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

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» See also 76 mentions

English (65)  French (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
I loved this; the structure really worked for me. I often get annoyed with short stories because it feels like a lot of work to get invested in a world for such a short time. The act of piecing a story together from fragments and objects as a historian works better for me --- maybe because it's more upfront about the work and investment you need to do as a reader, and the payoff is more satisfying? Because you get to consume each bit as a microcosm of the whole and can get a sense sooner if the author knows what they're doing? Or maybe it's habituation to social media, where piecing a story together from many fragments and perspectives feels more natural than one linear thing.

Looking forward to reading the next one! ( )
  caedocyon | Jul 8, 2024 |
I did not expect this book. A whole novel packed into a tiny story. One hanky read. ( )
  Tip44 | Jun 2, 2024 |
3.75⭐ ( )
  Levitara | Apr 5, 2024 |
I'm definitely interested in reading more of this quiet little series and seeing where Chih ends up traveling next, and what stories they encounter. I feel like there is a lot of room for them to grow as a protagonist and I'm curious to see their journey. The prose in this book fits the narrative so well! It's to the point and precise, but very elegant at the same time, and I think that one of the strongest aspects. On the whole, the worldbuilding is a little disjointed; I felt very disoriented for awhile, and considering the fact that this is such a short book that made for a bit of an off-kilter experience. ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
Was this what I expected? No. Not even close. It was so much more. See the full review and more at MyBookJoy.com!

This was a short read packed with so much. This is a great example of what can be done in ~100 pages. This is something you have to think about, and savor, and should not read passively.

Recommended: yes
For a short read that packs a punch, for beautifully lyrical writing, for a story that emerges through clues and fog and whispers, for a surprisingly gorgeous depiction of a life through objects

Thoughts:
Do not make the mistake of thinking that since this is just over 100 pages that it is sparse in detail or not much happens or you would not have time to learn the characters. We get all of that and more, and in such an elegant way, that it's stunning to think how few times you actually need to turn the page.

The story is told by Rabbit to the cleric cataloguing the household items as is their duty. Each chapter begins with a spare examination of objects, and yet what's revealed in the items' descriptions and mere existences carves a story through time of the exiled Empress. From the very beginning In Yo told Rabbit to learn how to look from the side of her eye, rather than moving her whole head. The style of this story shows that she did eventually learn that lesson, as we hear the Empress's story through her past possessions and the words of another. Receiving her thoughts as understood by another lends a specific kind of warped knowledge of the empress; we know her, yet only as seen through the eyes of another.

Each set of objects also allows the progression to jump from moment to moment, highlighting changes and events that mattered most. There's no time for mundanity here. The mix of flashbacks, portrayed as stories Rabbit gives the cleric about each item, blends well with the current state by way of writing it as if it were an oral retelling. This keeps the timeline clear, with no jarring contrasts or abrupt changes.

You are left with some unexplained and ambiguous elements, like the lake's glow and ghosts and such around the magic of the world. Be willing to accept that you will leave with some unanswered questions. It's more beautiful for it's mystery, leaving you with a sense of quiet wonder.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for a free copy in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Jenniferforjoy | Jan 29, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
So how did In-yo and Rabbit escape rustic isolation, surrounded by spies, and rise to the throne? Cleric Chih arrives at Lake Scarlet to unravel the mystery. We too learn how they did it in this short, delightfully written tale.
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nghi Voprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chen, RuoxiEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foltzer, ChristineCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winans, AlyssaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my family
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"Something wants to eat you," called Almost Brilliant from her perch in a nearby tree, "and I shall not be sorry if it does."
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Rabbit smiled. "Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves. I am not worried for her in the least." (Chapter 10)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor's lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She's a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

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