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The Empress of Salt and Fortune

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  180 reviews
With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama 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. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by
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chai ♡
Dust lay thick on the history of Lake Scarlet: a soft blanket of years, keeping all the best secrets, undisturbed. But Chih, a traveling cleric who walks through puddles of ink, following footprints that form stories in their wake to collect like cards in their heart, is here to disturb them.

Chih meets Rabbit, an elderly woman who tells them of the history of this beautiful and harrowing landscape, decades deadand the words rise from their ink-and-cotton cradles and swirl into the air again,
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book doesnt make you feel things you can put into words. It makes you feel things that only you can feel and only you can comprehend. And I mean this in the best way possible. ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2020-shelf
I'm always on the lookout for writers who are getting people excited, and this one graced my radar several times before I was able to grab her on Netgalley.

This one has some really cool setting descriptions (evocative and colorful), excellent use of object descriptions (telling very understated stories that branch much deeper than first implications), and some very cool points of subtlety in the telling of a much larger story.

In a nutshell, we hear the story of an exiled princess in a
Clemlucian (🏳️‍🌈the villain's quest)
3/5 stars

Instagram | youtube

arc received through netgalley

The empress of salt and fortune is a short story about an exiled empress and her rise to power and her unconditional love for women.

While the whimsical writing style of this book enhanced the experience, turning the story into a fairy tale, there was little to anything else to this book.

The characters, while complex, were seen from distance, which made any kind of emotional connection impossible. The pacing of the story felt off, as
this book proved that stories can be both short and impactful. we get to spend so little time with these characters, and yet we learn so much about them. we learn about their hopes and deepest desires, their fears and dreams. this little fantasy book inspired by Chinese history did more to my heart than some of the longest fantasy books I've read. this is about untold stories, the ones you don't learn about because they're not seen as important enough, the ones that hold the truth. it's about ...more
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Empress of Salt and Fortune is the best example of quiet fantasy I know. It's a story about a revolution, about the upheaval of an empire, the way many fantasy stories are - and yet it's unlike everything I've ever read. There isn't one fight scene, it's told decades after the events happened, and it relies so much on details and symbolism, as quiet fantasy does when it needs to talk about something not quiet at all.
It follows Chih (they/them), a cleric - who pretty much functions as a historian
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
A northern barbarian is sent south to marry the emperor. Once she bears a son, she's sent into exile with only her faithful servant at her side. But her story doesn't end there. Her story is just beginning.

Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves.

Oh. My. Goodness.


I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it is. It's about the anger of women in a society built to keep them powerless, and how women can get away with literal
J.A. Ironside
ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This was utterly spellbinding. A rich, surprisingly intricate tale that seemed woven of thousands of strands of silk as much as written. Aside from the fact that the style is exquisite, this is an amazingly powerful tale about female friendship, love, loss and the power of women's voices when women band together to remove the restraints of silence placed upon them. There are hints of fantasy here too and the story is set in a historical
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, to-reread
This was such a beautiful, sharp little fairytale. I had high hopes that the story would be as wonderful as its absolutely stunning cover, and I was not disappointed! Nghi Vo's writing is dreamlike, with soft, tender hooks that slowly grow sharper, drawing you in more and more with each chapter.

I will say the plot gets a bit confusing if you try to read it too quickly. The story moves fast, covers a long period of time (relative to the length of the book), and the reader is expected to fill in
Brenda Waworga
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book felt like a fairytale book.. while the story felt whimsical.. a tale about empress and kingdom and friendship, i felt no connection with the whole characters and story

I love it's an Asian inspired story and got a storng feminist story but i feel everything is LESS... less connection, less character development

In the end i feel confused and meh 😑😣

I hope the story will be longer tho to create more connection between us the reader and the characters inside this book

If you are looking an
c, (½ of readsrainbow)
I know what ambition feels like. This feels different. Like a weight around my shoulders, or a stone carried over my heart.

On my blog.

Rep: nonbinary mc, wlw characters, Southeast Asian (Vietnamese?) inspired characters and setting

Galley provided by publisher

Do you ever finish a novella and simultaneously youre satisfied because its managed to tell a complete story but also you want to be living in that world for so much longer? Well, this is one of those.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune takes
Jul 08, 2019 marked it as anti-library
' once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.'

'It's also a narrative centered on two fascinating women, the ways in which women are allowed to be angry, and the question of who is ultimately allowed to write the history that lives on.'

SO HERE FOR IT and also that the author and editor are both AsAm, that's the kind of rep to root for

Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves.

Absolutely blown away. Full review to follow.

* I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.
2.5 stars

The Empress of Salt and Fortune wasn't a bad story; it just wasn't a developed enough one for me. My impression upon finishing this novella"...that's it?"remains my lasting impression of this novella as a whole. In other words, I was underwhelmed.

I want to say that I found this underdeveloped because it was so short, but that would be doing a disservice to all the short fiction I've recently read that has been excellent despite, and even because of, its length. The Empress of Salt and
Its not often I describe a book as beautiful but, dammit, The Empress of Salt and Fortune was as gorgeous in its telling as it was lush in its setting. Its a simple tale in so far a the plot is concerned, but layered and complex in its narrative stylings.

Nghi Vo tells the story through Rabbit, an elderly woman who was once handmaiden to the Empress, as she shares her memories with Chih, a non-binary Cleric, and ALmost Brilliant, their sentient avian companion, prompted by artifacts and mementos
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

2.5 stars

I appreciate what this book did but it really wasn't for me.

Usually I like to start certain books knowing almost nothing about them, and this is what I did with this novella as well. In hindsight this has proved to be a mistake on my part: I think I would have benefitted from reading some reviews, although I don't think it would have changed my enjoyment of it.

Beth Cato
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley.

Lyrical, haunting, heartbreaking. This novella exemplifies the extraordinary work that Tor is sharing with the world right now. Truly, this is a read that makes you feel all the feels.

A cleric travels the land to preserve tales for generations to come. Along an isolated, incredible lakefront, they intend to chronicle a place important in the life of the Empress of Salt and Fortune: a woman who produced an heir but did not quietly accept her
I am keeping this short: I was confused most of the time, the writing was great but I finished while still trying to connect to the characters and story. I felt it was a bit choppy and disjointed. Still a fast feminist short story if you want want.
The Nerd Daily
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Christina Ladd

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo unfolds from the detritus of empire: the gaudy baubles, the cherished mementos, and the trappings of office, whether salt or dice or garments. Empires might be won with weapons, but they are kept with culture. The Empress In-yo knows this when she arrives, a girl in the sealskin finery of her homeland that is ill-suited to the swelter of her new land. And as she sets about exploiting it in
Marija (Inside My Library Mind)
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

"The Empress of Salt and Fortune belongs to all her subjects, and she was romantic and terrible and glamourous and sometimes all three at once."

This was spectacular! This is a short novella that packs such a punch in its 100 pages. It's a story that celebrates female friendships but also one that mainly focuses on women reclaiming both their agency and their place in history. It's a story that focuses on the
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Original! Refreshing!

The cadence of this novella has a pure and lyrical quality. Reading it was like watching a traditional Chinese scroll unfold, the painting rich and nuanced.
And yet the story of a princess contracting to a political marriage, and how she rises to power is a far from traditional tale, even as the telling invokes that.
Told from the viewpoint of Rabbit, the handmaiden to the young exiled Empress, gives a distinct voice to the story.

A Macmillan-Tor/Forge ARC via NetGalley
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this SO MUCH! This is my favorite book of the year so far ( I know thats not funny but like it is let me live). I loved the format this used to tell the story and I was really interested and invested in all the characters even though this only took like two hours to read. The themes were very interesting and subtly displayed and I think it does a good job of presenting ideas and preparing you for conversation. I would highly recommend this if the summary interests you AT ALL give it a ...more
Ash | Wild Heart Reads
I don't know whats wrong with me at the moment, I can't seem to get into anything and it's hard to tell if it's what I'm reading or my own mood.

Empress of Salt and Fortune is a good book and I do recommend picking it up if you're interested in reading it. I did really love the writing , it's beautiful. Despite that, it was hard to sink into. I wasn't really connecting with it. I was reading it so that I could finish it rather than because I was wanting to and so despite it being a novella it
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, it was so lovely! Like a beautiful fairytale. I think anybody who grew up with these kinds of stories will find as much to cherish as I did with the Winternight Trilogy, and for those of us for whom they're not so familiar will find something new and wonderful to fall in love with.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a really tight, well-written novella that sort of comes at its story side-on, building up the past through a series of short scenes (each based around an object or artifact) that come together to present a united whole.

It's a short story, but one with wonderful lines and a huge emotional payout.

Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves.

I loved the way Empress In-yo is presented from a distance. We get to hear Rabbit side of the story, her
♠ TABI ♠
all I needed to see to slam that TBR button was "visuals of an Asian period drama" okay

the other wonderful things are surprise bonus content
The Artisan Geek
Nov 29, 2019 marked it as to-read
29/11/19 is one of my favourite publishers! The work they publish is amazing and damn I'm not going to lie, this 'feminist high fantasy' about 'empire, storytelling, and the anger of women' sound hella good!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this SO MUCH! This is my favorite book of the year so far ( I know thats not funny but like it is let me live). I loved the format this used to tell the story and I was really interested and invested in all the characters even though this only took like two hours to read. The themes were very interesting and subtly displayed and I think it does a good job of presenting ideas and preparing you for conversation. I would highly recommend this if the summary interests you AT ALL give it a ...more
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


This is such a lovely gem of a book! I'll admit, I was a little unsure at the start. I felt a wee bit disconnected, and didn't know if it'd be for me. But I am so, so glad I stuck with it, because it was extremely well worth the time! The first thing that drew me in was the writing. It is truly next-level phenomenal, lyrical and lovely without being overdone.

It's both a story, and a
Nandini | Novels and Nebulas
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to read this early! I received an e-ARC via Net Galley from Tor.

Reasons to Love
✔ Novella
✔ Imperial Chinese setting
✔ Gorgeous cover
✔ Political marriage trope
✔ Feminist fantasy

The cast was limited in this one as it was such a short story but all of them were well fleshed out. One of the main characters, a cleric, was non-binary and I loved that representation in a setting like historical Imperial China. The inter-personal relationships were
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Nghi Vo lives on the shores of Lake Michigan, and her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Expanded Horizons, Crossed Genres, and Icarus Magazine. She likes stories about things that fall through the cracks and live on the edges, and she has a deep love for tales of revolution (personal and political), transfiguration, and transmutation. Shes a writer by trade, a storyteller by nature, a ...more

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