The Empress of Salt and Fortune

The Empress of Salt and Fortune

The Singing Hills Cycle Series, Book 1

eBook - 2020
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Winner of the 2020 Crawford Award!
"Dangerous, subtle, unexpected and familiar, angry and ferocious and hopeful... The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a remarkable accomplishment of storytelling."—NPR

A 2020 ALA Booklist Top Ten SF/F Debut | A Book Riot Must-Read Fantasy of 2020 | A Paste Most Anticipated Novel of 2020 | A Library Journal Debut of the Month | A Buzzfeed Must-Read Fantasy Novel of Spring 2020 | A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist | A Washington Post Best SFF of the Year So Far Pick
Named Book Riot's Best Book Cover of 2020
Named a Best of 2020 Pick for NPR | Library Journal | NYPL | Chicago Public Library | The Austen Chronicle | Autostraddle

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama, Nghi Vo's The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.
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.
Praise for The Empress of Salt and Fortune
"An elegant gut-punch, a puzzle box that unwinds itself in its own way and in its own time. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Gorgeous. Cruel. Perfect. I didn't know I needed to read this until I did."—Seanan McGuire
"A tale of rebellion and fealty that feels both classic and fresh, The Empress of Salt and Fortune is elegantly told, strongly felt, and brimming with rich detail. An epic in miniature, beautifully realised."—Zen Cho
"Nghi Vo's gracefully told debut . . . resides in the intimate margins of its (beautifully imagined) world's history, portraying how the marginalized may yet shape those narratives and harness the power of stories."—Indrapramit Das
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates


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Mar 03, 2021

As good as the starred reviews say it is! I really loved the almost epistolary structure of the book, and the subversion of the ideals of hereditary monarchy (which is a conceit I've never understood--why would you think the child of a great leader would make a second great leader? That's not how children work). I kind of wish this was a full novel and I'm stoked that there's a part two in the works.

JessicaGma Feb 06, 2021

It's a delightful mash-up of Asian myths. Chih and her familiar Almost Brilliant meet Rabbit and record the tale of the last Empress. It's novella length but really feels like a complete tale with action, and drama. A lovely tale!

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 14, 2020

A short novella-length fantasy with an Asian-themed setting. I loved how this was structured and will be checking out the next installment when it releases in the new year!

FPL_AdamL Sep 22, 2020

Novella in length, epic in storytelling.

multcolib_rachaels Sep 19, 2020

Compelling and original. A travelling archivist and their talking/remembering bird visits a former handmaid to the Empress, and the story is told through what that archivist learns.

Sep 02, 2020

(Note: I read the ebook version of this text, and am copying my comment for the book's main entry.)

A short but impactful read; I finished it in about 2.5 hours. While the book has the trappings of fantasy - a talking bird character and references to mages, ghosts, a fictional setting, etc. - it reads like an Asian period drama. It is largely a quiet story (there are no sword fights or magical duels), but a story filled with enough political intrigue, revenge, and tragic love to keep the reader turning the pages all the way to the satisfying conclusion.

Apr 12, 2020

I often feel that novellas leave me wanting more, but Vo has been able to create a story that comes full circle as Rabbit tells her story of servitude to an Empress to a cleric and their bird. The ending chapter packs as we learn why the new empress is so important to Rabbit and the power and strength women possess. As I read this, I visualized the cover of the children’s fantasy, Where The Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. It was in that book the power of Chinese fantasy. The lush richness of that cover art so well illustrates the great storytelling power of The Empress of Salt and Fortune.


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