Another murder mystery by Aliette de Bodard? Especially set during Tet and featuring one of my favorite knife-stabby heroes? Yes, please. This is set after the end of the trilogy, though I read this without having read the last book (oops). The characters and enough background is given, though, that this could easily be read as a standalone if you’re just here for the murder plot.
“His only assets were a resourceful thief who wasn’t supposed to be his retainer, and a husband whose ideas of getting things done was finding someone to hurt.”
Thuan just wants to enjoy – or at least survive – his trip home for Tet with his husband Asmodeus. But when he’s dragged into a plot against his Second Aunt, the empress, can the bookish one keep the stabby one from whisking them away before he can save the dynasty?
“Poor sweet dragon prince. I’m finding this rather exciting, but you’re angry and terrified, aren’t you?”
I love the Viet-influenced underwater dragon kingdom and how quickly (this is an 80 page novella!) the author managed to sketch out the various political intrigues going on in the palace along with their involved characters. Thuan’s grandmother, who thinks Asmodeus is a sweetheart, is reason enough to read this novella. It’s also worth noting that while the main couple is obviously gay, many of the side characters are also queer. It does get dark, as court intrigues often have more far-reaching and tragic fallout than those ensconced in the palaces care about. And that’s without noting that Asmodeus himself, as a Fallen angel, is very much into the whole pain/torture/domination thing. Thuan knows that his family and his kingdom aren’t perfect – he’s lived through it, after all – but having those things pointed out to him by Asmodeus is still grating.
Overall, I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Aliette de Bodard, and this is no exception. It definitely makes me want to jump in to a reread of Dominion of the Fallen.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.