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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo (reviewed by Shazzie)

 


Order Into the Riverlands over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Siren Queen
 
OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFO: Nghi Vo is the author of the novels Siren Queen and The Chosen and the Beautiful, as well as the acclaimed novellas When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, a Locus and Ignyte Award finalist and the winner of the Crawford Award and the Hugo Award. Born in Illinois, she now lives on the shores of Lake Michigan. She believes in the ritual of lipstick, the power of stories, and the right to change your mind.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The Hugo, Locus, Igynte Award Finalist and Crawford Award-Winning Series

Wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themselves far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be.

Accompanied by Almost Brilliant, a talking bird with an indelible memory, Chih confronts old legends and new dangers alike as they learn that every story—beautiful, ugly, kind, or cruel—bears more than one face.

The Singing Hills Cycle 
The Empress of Salt and Fortune
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain
Into the Riverlands 

The novellas of The Singing Hills Cycle are linked by the cleric Chih, but may be read in any order, with each story serving as an entrypoint. 

FORMAT/INFO: Into the Riverlands consists of 112 pages with eight chapters, written in third-person point-of-view.  The novel releases from TorDotCom Pub on 25th October 2022 in hardcover and ebook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Not only is this my first Nghi Vo read, this is the first Singing Hills novella I have read. It was quick, afternoon read that did not need knowledge of any of the prequels.

In this book, we follow the cleric Chih, and Almost Brilliant, the neixin that has generational recall of certain parts of history, as they travel to the riverlands with some martial artists they met on the way. In this book Nghi Vo opts for a framing narrative for a large part - the story within story format - to unravel the history of the part of the world Chih travels through and speak about the experiences of the travelling group.

This is a beautiful, cozy, fantasy tale. It is not one where you have a lot of swords, action, lore, or large conflicts. There is a small conflict and resolution, but that is not where the focus of the book lies. This is a book puts Chih's backstory into the forefront, along with social commentary very relevant to our lives.

CONCLUSION: This is a book that is mostly carried by dialogue. If you like gentle, soothing, whimsical, feminist tales with a little bit of lore and some character backstories, you will not be disappointed.

 

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