The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (Four Stars)

The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo

“One drunken evening, many years on, In-yo would say that the war was won by silenced and nameless women, and it would be hard to argue with her.”

A fabled past is reconstructed by a cleric interviewing an ancient maid who had more than a little to do with the history reveals. Apt storytelling and clues scattered through the tales draw the attentive reader in and forward.

“Sometimes the things we see do not make sense until many years have gone by. Sometimes it takes generations. We are taught to be content with that.”

A welcome change from medieval European fantasies. Roughly imperial Chinese analog. The characterization of the cleric adds to the sense of other.

“Look to your records, cleric. Honor is a light that brings trouble. Shadows are safer by far.”

(2021 Hugo Awards Novella finalist)