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The Citadel of Weeping Pearls

(The Universe of Xuya)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences-its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.
Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.
But now the Dai Viet Em
Paperback, 164 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Jabberwocky Literary Agency (first published September 12th 2015)
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  287 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Althea Ann
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
My favorite piece by de Bodard that I've encountered so far.

Court intrigue meets space opera meets family drama. The setting reminded me of Vernor Vinge's 'Fire Upon the Deep,' with it's sentient ships and bizarre zones of space where physics works differently. It also reminded me of Somtow Sucharitkul's Inquestor series, with a glittering panoply of an Asian-inspired society with aristocrats, soldiers and scientists.

Thirty years ago, threatened by her mother the Empress, the Bright Princess di
K.J. Charles
A deeply weird and marvellous tale of time travel, deep space, broken families, mindships, and court intrigue in a Vietnamese-influenced space empire. Strange, absorbing, lyrically written and moving as well as mind-expanding. Loved it, got the companion book at once. Also, what a cover.
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls is the second novella set in the Xuya universe I’ve read. It follows many different characters as they try to piece together a mystery: is the disappearance of deep space scientist Bach Cuc tied to the space citadel that vanished thirty years before, together with all its inhabitants and princess Ngoc Minh?

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls is a very unique story for its genre. It's a story about family, especially about the way relationships between mothers, daughters a
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Citadel is a compact but full-hearted story of grief, family, politics and impending war.

I forget how much I love Aliette de Bodard's prose until I read some more of Aliette de Bodard's prose. There's a certain tone to the Xuya novellas in particular - somewhere between reflective and melancholy - that just has me thrumming from the get-go. Add in a richly imagined space empire based on Viet traditions rather than Western ones, and I'm helplessly engaged every time. I feel I learn more about th
Shanna Matheo
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Have you ever tried to squeeze yourself into a pair of jeans one size too small? You look spectacular, but it's too uncomfortable to wear with any kind of ease... This book reminds me of me and my too tight jeans. The novella format is too small for this story. It's still a spectacular story, but you can feel the squeeze and it's not comfortable. I say all that to say, I would have enjoyed this a whole lot more if it were a full length novel.
Dawn Christoffersen
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ibooks
This is the third story set in the Xuya universe I’ve read; the wonderful, futuristic Vietnamese scifi world, where truly unique technology intertwines seamlessly with old tradition.

Sadly, it left me wanting. I shruggled with getting under the skin of all the characters we’re presented with and to understand their motivations, which I felt was never really elaborated on. I kept mixing up the three simultaneous mother/daughter relationships described, and lost track of how many siblings there wer
'The Turtle's Golden Claw was mostly sweet; but sometimes she could act with the same casual arrogance as the Empress.'

Oh my god, this novella! There is so much here from an impending war to time travel to strange experiments to deep spaces where everything gets distorted to an Empress ordering to kill her disobedient heir and a thirty-year-old mystery.

The Empress is a complex character battling conflicting emotions for decades but honestly, I love a good rebel who defies her parent, declares fi
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first, I had difficulty with this novella, because of a flurry of characters, settings, and unexplained situations coming at me all at once. It was really cool to see these seemingly unconnected shards of narrative come together. I appreciate it when an author trusts readers enough to let them figure things out for themselves!

"The Citadel of Weeping Pearls" is similar to On a Red Station, Drifting in centering on difficult relationships between women; this time on filial/familial tensions, gr
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Thoughtful and unexpected.

I found myself wishing AdB had her Gollancz editor at times though.
Read this novella in Asimov's SF Magazinee. The story combines the grace and charm of de Bodard's Xuya universe with some new technology and, less common for de Bodard, a sense of excitement in the plot.
Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
For some reason I didn't connect with this one as much as I have the others...
Alexia Cambaling
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come.
Probably more like 3.5 - I enjoyed this and I'm really intrigued by the universe, but I wish there were more there there in the individual stories.
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
A Sci-Fi novella with plenty of interesting ideas.

When Emperors and Empresses die, their memory becomes data and all previous rulers that ever existed serve the new one. So you have this gigantic council composed of past Emperors and Empresses. Also, it doesn't matter how successful or how the ruler died. There was an Emperor who was poisoned at eight and is there in the council. Pretty cool.

Women can give birth to... ships. Yea, seriously. A special type of ship, called Mindship, a ship with
Jaffa Kintigh
Beneath the veneer of speculative science and space opera sci-fi, this convoluted thriller surrounding the disappearance of two women 30 years apart shows the intricate relationships between grandmothers, mothers, daughters and sisters. A ruling dynasty, culturally East Asian, in outer space finds itself on the brink of war and turning to its own past and ancestors for guidance.

30 years ago, the Empress' favored daughter broke from the empire and was banished. Her Citadel of Weeping Pearls had t
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful journey into Aliette de Bodard's Xuya Universe. A mother looking for a lost daughter, and a daughter looking for her own mother, with both the subjects of their searches lost in the mists of time.
Robert Adam Gilmour
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This has a lot of things I liked and found interesting, like these Vietnamese space empires having their architecture and clothing a lot like what I'm guessing ancient Vietnam may have been like. The virtual ancestors and the names of ships & places were pretty cool too.

But I think the prose was a bit too weak and the story wasn't quite interesting enough and it got very repetitive the way we're told about the characters manners.
I would have liked more description of the ships, some of th
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Court intrigue, space opera, a touch of "portal fantasy", all mixed into an eastern (China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea?) setting in space.

After reading the novella/shortish story of The Teamster and the Detective needed to discover more 'de Bodard' universe.
A universe of sentient ships and imperial politics.
Had a touch of NineFox, Scalzi, Powell and echoes of a few other things? But more inspired by or inspired those other things rather than copies or any funny stuff? could just be compatible, compli
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Citadel... is a novella full of interesting concepts, but a little light on character development.

I loved how many mind-expanding ideas were crammed into its space-faring empire setting. A character travels in time but finds herself trapped in a ghost-like state. The preserved personalities of dead emperors whisper to their descendants. A woman with a spaceship for a daughter struggles to manage her mixed feelings about her offspring. And war is looming.

In brief, there's a ton going on here
Olga Godim
I didn’t like this novella. The other novellas in this series were all very personal stories. This one is about politics and an imperial court. One of the POV characters is an empress. I read this story and thought: all these politicians are so unbelievably cold and cruel! This empress destroys lives. She sent an army against her own daughter, because the said daughter didn’t want to conform. She orders people around like chess pieces, without regard for anyone’s wishes or opinions. She crushes ...more
This time, we have the opposite. A young ship Mind. Plus, the action does not take place on a remote space station but rather starts out in the Imperial Palace itself. We even get to meet the young ship Mind's mother, the Empress' youngest daughter Ngoc Ha who had always been over-shadowed by her eldest sister.

Much of this particular story is about the Empress' eldest daughter Bright Princess Ngoc Minh who rebelled against her mother. She gets banished but then invaders are on the way and her mo
Jamie Rich
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls (Xuya Universe) by Aliette de Bodard

A wonderful follow up to Red Station Drifting. Set some years later, and in a different stelar neighborhood. But, once again, the characters are flawlessly drawn. And driven. And in this book we get a better idea about being a ShipMind as well. I really like that the author doesn't feel compelled to connect each and every dot, which draws in the reader even more.
Her characters varies interactions, and relationships, serve the plo
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
My favorite of de Bodard's works so far - clever and touching. And while her post-apocalyptic Paris left me cold, I love her concept of mindships as family members in a culture revolving around ancestral worship. But I just felt so sad for The Turtle's Golden Claw, I felt the narrative treated her unfairly. Also, de Bodard's prose is rich and poetic, but sometimes that veered into the territory of too much for me.
Willem Hartman
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this novella. And although it is but a novella, I took my time reading, since I savored the language and felt the text invited me to dive deeper into the characters, the different subjects and their intertwined stories. This story comes in levels and takes us to the Deep, to Nowhere and Nowhen.

Moving straight on to the Tea Master and the Detective and then rereading On a Red Station Drifting.
Frank Burns
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
The second one in this universe. Again a three for me, which would have been a 4 but the ending ruined it. This time, the setting was more integrated into the story and there was actual speculation as to how the future setting would affect the future society. There was a nice build up with two competing plot lines and then .. fizzle out. Deus ex machina to no actual resolution of one of the plot lines. Shame.
Ralph Blackburn
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette De Bodard- A space opera with court intrigue, fantastical science, and the threat of war looming in near space. Sign me up! This is a short novel that packs more than most full-length outings and delivers immense emotional depth. The story is told from several viewpoints with each character influencing their narrative style. No battle scenes, no explosions in space, just drama and a taught, tight story.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Great story, delicate relationships amongst the elite of the Viet Dai people in their interplanetary empire. Ancestors as implants is interesting. Would happily read next instalment - felt like this one stopped quite abruptly. Had to keep reminding myself who the characters were but probably an effect of reading when tired. There was a fair splash of ‘maths delivers magic’ in this one but it managed to avoid being annoying.
Sara Norja
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I think I need to reread this novella sometime in one sitting, with more concentration. I liked it, and the worldbuilding was especially fascinating (mindships!), but since I read it in many scattered sittings, the convoluted language and multiple POVs made it harder for me to get into the story. I love Aliette de Bodard's use of language, but here the sentences felt a little too full of semicolons and dashes. But as I said, I think I should reread this to get a more coherent impression!
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I'm not quite sure how to describe this book. There's time travel and the weirdness of deep space. There's a dysfunctional royal family and some obsessed engineers. There's spaceships run by human minds and space stations filled with tea houses and shrines and designed with ancient Asian poetry. And overall, an awesome story that made me wish it was a full novel rather than novella.
Natalie aka Tannat
Although I didn't love this story as much as I loved On a Red Station, Drifting, it was still cool and de Bodard managed to make a story about a leading scientist's disappearance and time travel really be about interpersonal relationships between siblings and mothers and daughters.
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I am a speculative fiction author living in Paris, with a strong taste for history and mythology. Rice addict, tea addict and nước mắm addict.
My short fiction has appeared in various professional venues, and my Aztec fantasy series "Obsidian and Blood", Servant of the Underworld, is published by Angry Robot.
My next novel is The House of Shattered Wings, set in a devastated Paris where quasi-feud

Other books in the series

The Universe of Xuya (1 - 10 of 43 books)
  • The Jaguar House, in Shadow
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  • The Lost Xuyan Bride
  • Interzone 213, December 2007 (Interzone, #213)
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