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Fireheart Tiger

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  4,161 ratings  ·  961 reviews
Award-winning author Aliette de Bodard returns with a powerful romantic fantasy that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world.

Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mothe
Paperback, 103 pages
Published February 9th 2021 by Tordotcom
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Aliette Not at all! Mostly from stories of 19th Century palace fires, plus a Vietnamese folk tale about how the tiger got his stripes.
Chelsea It reads like a standalone and I don't believe there are any sequels planned.…moreIt reads like a standalone and I don't believe there are any sequels planned.(less)

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Average rating 3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,161 ratings  ·  961 reviews

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chai ♡
Fireheart Tiger is fierce and fragile spill of a story that mingles subtly cutting court politics with tangled lesbian relationships and renders both with breathless heat, intense intrigue, and deep pangs of yearning.

Memories of the time Princess Thanh of Bin Hai had spent as a royal hostage in Ephteria sat heavy and uncomfortable in her chest, a gnawing weight that threatened to eat at her unchecked for the rest of her life: the shock-bright clarity of unbelonging and a palace set afire, the
Well, this was a bland disappointment, especially given its award-nominated status.

It’s quite a shallow story, especially considering the deep topics the author appears to want to tackle - colonialism and abusive relationships, one paralleling the other. But intent is one thing and managing to channel it into a good story is something else entirely, something that this novella does not achieve.

To condense all this into one word - bland.

The blackmail part of the plot was unnecessary (unless the
K.J. Charles
Gorgeously written novella set in a Viet-like queendom (loving the matriarchy, there's barely a man in the entire book and they aren't missed). Thanh is the youngest princess who's returned after a stint as a hostage to the big neighbouring power with colonial takeover ambitions, and as lover to the heir of their throne. When that princess comes to get her as part of a delegation Thanh could go from discarded and unimportant to precious queen's wife. Fairytale. Only that isn't the story.

This is
May 07, 2022 rated it it was ok
I find as a publisher ridiculously consistent. They publish some of the best science fiction, fantasy and horror on the market right now and certainly some of my favorite books in recent years. I can honestly could the number of their books I've read and disliked on one hand. As a whole I trust them to find good authors, interesting stories and something worth my time.

Thus is great disappointment to report back that I didn't care for this one much. I was taken in by the unique setting (f
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, fantasy
3.5 stars. This fantasy novella is a lushly-told tale set in an ancient Vietnamese type of kingdom that's under the colonizing eye of a northern kingdom. Final review, first posted on

Princess Thanh was a royal hostage for many years in the northern country of Ephteria before being sent back to her home country of Bình Hải. Two years after her return, she’s a disappointment to her mother, the empress, who hoped that Thanh’s time in Ephteria would give her insights into that
Lex Kent
4.25 Stars. A very good fantasy novella! The story grabbed me instantly and it flew by so fast that I could not believe when it finished. This is a story about a young woman finding her own strength and power, even if it could hurt her relationships with the people around her. The story is clever, the writing is well done, and there are bits of magic and a little sapphic romance to round things out. While the story felt nice and complete, I would love to read more about the main character or jus ...more
The prose in this novella is beautiful (not to mention that cover!!), buuuut the stakes just weren’t there for me.

I couldn’t quite connect to Thanh. I didn’t feel invested in her relationships or frustrations—which is SUCH a shame, because this is an incredibly gorgeous world that de Bodard has woven, featuring sapphic characters and a pre-colonial fantasy drawing Vietnamese inspiration.

What really took away from my experience with this book was the romance, which overshadowed the lush world-b
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
I had a galaxy brain moment of the1st of January and decided to start the year with this book, not only because I was almost sure I'd enjoy it but also because it's short, I'd be able to read it in an hour or two, feel accomplished and start the year with a bang. And I'm happy to report I was right about all of the above.

I'm always way of novellas as they tend to be hit or miss for me, I'm either absolutely won over or I'm left wanting a lot more than what was delivered. Luckily FIREHEART TIGER
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)
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2 ½ stars

I was intrigued by this novella's premise—The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a Vietnamese inspired setting—by its cover and of course by the promise of sapphic love story. Sadly, I can't say that Fireheart Tiger was a particularly good read.
As per usual, if you are thinking of reading this I recommend you read some more positive reviews as my one is not a particularly enthusiastic one.

Fireheart Tiger would have probably worked a lot better
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
1.5 stars

A simplistic self-empowerment, anti-colonialist fantasy novella, featuring a bland, incompetent princess who wants recognition without responsibility: I didn’t think much of this book at all.

There will be SPOILERS below!

The premise: Thanh, a princess of a quasi-Southeast Asian country, hopes to prove herself to her empress mother in negotiations with an expansionist power, where she spent her adolescence as a negotiated hostage. Things go sideways when her old flame, a princess of said
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novella has it all - from magic, betrayal, queer romance to political intrigue. I really enjoyed it!

Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Kelsey (munnyreads)
Jun 07, 2022 rated it liked it
So many great things happening in this story, I just wish it were longer (this is a novella) and more fleshed out.
Jade Ratley
May 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
3.29 on CAWPILE
something-something meets HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE ??????

*clicks want to read*

*passes out*
Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
this book hurt my soul, but also soothed it
Althea ☾
“Life is too short to be ringed by other people’s expectations of proper behavior.”

Starting off by saying that the premise of this is absolutely exquisite from the vietnamese-inspired world to the politics and the sapphic romance. I could like in that premise alone but the execution just didn’t hit for me.

My favorite aspect was definitely the fact that this was set in a world where the norm is for women to be political, brash, and confident. Which is already different from the usual fantasy
Jun 13, 2022 rated it did not like it
this was awful.

it was all over the place, and i had no idea where the plot was going or why.

it started off very strongly with in-depth politics, which again, i was not sure why. in a 100 page book, there is no reason to make the politics and world building so extensive.

then a very strange romance was added with two characters that call each other sister and then kiss in the same sentence? i don’t think they were actual sisters, but calling someone “big sis” then saying you’re in love with them i
Charlotte Kersten
“You would have given me so much, in exchange for me giving up everything.”

So What’s It About?

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnet
On my blog.

Rep: Vietnamese coded characters & setting, lesbian mc & lis

CWs: implied domestic abuse, sexual assault

Galley provided by publisher

I’ve read 5 or 6 books by Aliette de Bodard this year and consistently loved them all, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed Fireheart Tiger as much as I did. It’s on the shorter side for a novella and it so effectively tells the story that it sets out to, you feel at once satisfied with what you have and desperately craving more of the world and charac
Simply put: Fireheart Tiger was gorgeous. I don't believe I've ever read such a wonderfully contained and satisfying novella before this one. And while the world can leave one wanting for more (*raises hand*), it would not be for lack of resolution of the story told here.

At its core, Fireheart is a romance, but the main story is one of self-growth, of breaking out of toxic relationships and realizing your worth, one small step at a time. Codependency is a major theme and is something the protago
C.L. Clark
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very sweet and lovely...dare I say heartwarming? With so much of the flare for language and world I’ve come to expect from Aliette de Bodard.
When I first saw the announcement of this novella, I didn’t even need to know the premise before adding it to my tbr. And when I saw that stunning cover, my excitement only doubled. I had so much confidence that the author would wow me in just a few pages, and I’m so happy to report that I was right.

I find the novella format very fascinating - the less number of pages should realistically not give us enough time to feel invested in the characters or the stakes, but what I’ve realized through re
Jun 04, 2021 rated it liked it
☆ 3.5 / 5 ☆

“She’ll come back. To conquer you. To reduce you to a different sort of ashes.”

This short story was a wonderful look at imperialism through the lens of a pre-colonial Vietnamese inspired world.

Thanh is a princess of Bình Hải, appointed diplomat and returned from Ephteria for a couple of years after she spent most of her life there as a hostage. She was meant to come back an asset, assertive and with political connections, but her quiet demeanor keeps disappointing her mother. Howe
Brenda Waworga
May 27, 2021 rated it liked it
This is such a fun adult fantasy Novella! And i just want more from these characters and also worldbuilding and magic system.. too “bad” this is just around 90 pages long :( so the characters and romance development didn’t get enough room for me to feel attached to them

Inspired by Vietnamese-esque world and Howl Moving Castle we follow Thanh a princess that once sent by her kindom to be “hostage” as part of the political agreement between her kingdom (rule by her mother) and Ephteria, there she
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

This is an absolutely stunning novella. I think with novellas, it can often be hard to convey your message and themes in such a short number of pages, but I think Aliette de Bodard did a fantastic job.

Fireheart Tiger is a quiet, but fierce tale of a princess named Thanh who was traded to a foreign kingdom as a teenager, and has now returned to her Mother's empire and has to play the role of a dip
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This novella is so powerful and resonant (on themes of colonialism, domestic abuse, and more), so gorgeously written, and it has such an empowering and cathartic ending - and ohhh is the final romantic thread lovely as well! I was lucky enough to read a draft and was absolutely blown away by it. I'm so glad lots and lots of people get to read it now! ...more
The Captain
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy novella eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

I really do enjoy Aliette de Bodard's writing and was excited to read this novella.  It was a quick read at around 100 pages but the length is its greatest flaw.  The basic story is easy to follow and was compelling but I felt that too much background and emotion happened off the page.  This was particularly true with Giang.  Giang was the most interesti
This is too short/underdeveloped for the ship to be satisfying. If a sort-of-love-triangle is at the center of the story, it better be good (it was not). It’s a shame because the worldbuilding and anti-colonialist themes are decent; the flaws overshadowed what I liked about FIREHEART TIGER. I’m super disappointed because I expected to love this.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novellas
i am sad that this didn’t work for me :// 100 pages of thanh waffling between being pathetic about eldris and feeling incredibly sorry for herself + halfheartedly rendered characters that don’t deliver their potential
Dec 15, 2021 rated it liked it
"Humans are scary" ...more
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SFF Hot from Prin...: July 2021 -- Fireheart Tiger 12 20 Jul 17, 2021 08:23AM  

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Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, an Ignyte Award, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards, and was a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella).

Her most recent book is Fireheart Tiger (, a sapphic romantic fantasy inspired by pre colonial Vietnam, where a diplomat princess must

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