A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.
Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.
At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.
I loved this book, it felt so magical.
Chi is a Cleric who is traveling with their hoopoe named Almost Brilliant, when they come across an elderly woman who worked as a handmaid for the old Empress. Rabbit was sold into the palace after not having the five bags of black dye that were required from her family. She soon befriends the Empress and becomes the Empress’ confidant.
Instead of telling Chi straight out, Rabbit gets Chi to sort out her belongings and tells Chi a story about different items.
I listened to this on audiobook and just thought it was so beautifully done, the writing style just felt so perfect and the narrating really pulled me in. For me this was the perfect introduction into Nghi Vo’s writing and I cant wait to pick up the next one.