{Story Diary} The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Apr 1, 2020

the empress of salt and fortune nghi vo nonbinary chinese repThe Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Asian Lit/Rep, Novella
March 24, 2020 from Tor.com

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 chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

the empress of salt and fortune nghi vo quotes


Lake Scarlet

The Lake itself was almost perfectly circular, formed from the death of a falling star, and further down the beach Chih saw the low green-tiled roof of the former empress's compound.

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 12)

Reasons You Need To Add The Empress of Salt and Fortune To Your Library

➣ #ownvoices Asians in Fantasy
➣ Nonbinary MC (prefers they/them pronouns); androgynous masc secondary character; wlw characters
➣ Normalizes nonbinary identities and pronouns
➣ Unapologetically feminist
➣ There's a talking hoopoe bird companion that will become your favorite character
➣ Sapphic empress, artists + housemaidens
➣ Rich with culture, history and lore
➣ Focus and value of female friendships + companionships
➣ Exiled soft, angry girls taking power back in a male-dominated dynasty
➣ The prose paints vivid imagery and is lyrical
➣ Story of history, oppression, imperialism, culture, secrets, freedom, rising up, rebellion, justice, fall of an empire, beginning of a new empire and dismantling the patriarchy

Accuracy above all things. You will never remember the great if you don't remember the small."

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 17)

"I am alone," she said, tying her robe herself. "But maybe I am less alone than I thought I was, hmm, Rabbit?"
I blushed and ducked my head, murmuring something about duty and being honored to serve, but deep down, I thought she would never be alone again, not if I could help it. Being close to her was like being warmed by a bonfire, and I had been cold for a long time.

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 41)

"The empress will not get out of bed unless a fortune-teller reassures her that it is all right to do so. She paused for a moment, shaking her head.
"In all fairness, she did a great deal of business from her bed, still in her nightclothes."

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 63)

The empress does what we're forced to do in this pandemic: work from home. We are all empresses now, sorry I don't make the rules.

"In-yo would say that the war was won by silenced and nameless women, and it would be hard to argue with her."

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 86)

The Minister of the Left could not argue with her. He could bully, he could imply, and he could outright lie, but in the end, she was the empress, a step away from divinity, and he was only a man.

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 97)

"Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves."

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 106)

There was a young man waiting for her, leaning against a pile of rocks and tapping his foot in impatience. He was tall with gangling limbs and a face slightly out of true.
"Well, there you are, Rabbit. I thought rabbits were meant to be fast, but look at how slow you are."
"Huh, like you're worth hurrying for? Don't flatter yourself."

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 114)

Chih thought that even from the crowd, they would see in her face the trace of a migratory bird, a rabbit, and the empress from the north, fierce enough to fight wolves.

--Nghi Vo, The Empress of Salt and Fortune (pg. 118)

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. She’s a writer by trade, a storyteller by nature, a volunteer by inclination, and a dreamer by design.

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