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Reviews by Contributor: de Bodard, Aliette (12)

A Bird Without a Song

Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight

By Aliette de Bodard  

3 Jan, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

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Aliette de Bodard’s 2019 Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories. The science fiction stories are set in her alternate history, the Universe of Xuya (in which North American colonization was first settled by Asians), while the fantasies are set in her Dominion of the Fallen, in which Paris is recovering from a war between fallen angels. 

The title is apt.

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Screaming to Say

In the Vanisher’s Palace

By Aliette de Bodard  

10 Oct, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Aliette de Bodard’s 2018 novel In the Vanishers’ Palace is a standalone secondary world fantasy (unless it’s SF; see comments). 

The Vanishers used the world as their toy until they broke it. Having ruined the world, they absconded, leaving their former slaves and playthings behind to scrabble for life in the poisoned wreckage. 

Yên’s village has no room for the useless or the weak. Her mother’s knack for healing magic pays her own way, but it’s not enough to support Yên. She is only a mediocre scholar. She has failed to pass the metropolitan exam and escape to the comparative security of the imperial court. It’s only a matter of time before Elder Tho finds a pretext to eject Yên from the village or feed her to the purifying artifact in the Plague Grove. 

Giving Yên to a dragon to do with as the dragon wishes is also acceptable to Elder Tho. 

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We Are Select

The Tea Master and the Detective

By Aliette de Bodard  

12 Mar, 2018

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Aliette de Bodard’s 2018 mystery The Tea Master and the Detective takes place in her Xuya universe. 

Cashiered following a deep-space calamity, shipmind The Shadow’s Child now makes a meagre living brewing medicinal infusions. It claims that these infusions will alleviate the stresses of other-dimensional travel. 

Long Chau seems to be just another human client. She is in fact something unusual.

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Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls

By Aliette de Bodard  

16 Jan, 2018

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck

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Aliette de Bodard’s 2015 space-opera The Citadel of Weeping Pearls is an instalment in her Universe of Xuya, an alternate history/future in which the West never dominated the world. The galaxy is ruled by Confucian powers.

Suu Nuoc is woken from a sound sleep by his alarmed shipmind, The Turtle’s Golden Claw. The artificial intelligence reports that Grand Master of Design Harmony Bach Cuc has seemingly vanished, in a manner the shipmind cannot comprehend. As far as The Turtle’s Golden Claw is concerned, it is up to Suu Nuoc — an Official of the First Order despite his low birth — to work out what happened to the missing scientist.

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Cast Me Down Where the Devil Don’t Go

The House of Binding Thorns  (Dominion of the Fallen, book 2)

By Aliette de Bodard  

28 Mar, 2017

Miscellaneous Reviews

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The House of Binding Thorns is the second volume in Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen series.

The dragon realm hidden under the Seine has until now held itself aloof. Their kingdom has been known only to a very few in ruined Paris. Now something has changed. An ongoing crisis in their realm gives Asmodeus, head of House Hawthorn, a chance to open diplomatic exchange with the hermit domain. More than exchange: dynastic merger.

Of course, the dragon kingdom has its own agenda, not to mention long experience of cunning plans aimed its way. The diplomatic mission may well be one from which none will return. It is a risk Asmodeus is willing to accept. That’s why he is sending trusted or expendable (such as returned exile and angel-essence-addict Madeleine) subordinates to conduct the negotiations.

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We All Must Go Down Into Darkness

Master of the House of Darts  (Obsidian and Blood, book 3)

By Aliette de Bodard  

19 Mar, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2011’s Master of the House of Darts is the third and to date final volume in Aliette de Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood series. In the previous volume, Harbinger of the Storm, High Priest of the Dead Acatl and his allies resorted to some rather extreme measures to keep the Fifth World functioning (for the moment). This volume explores the consequences of that bold gambit.

The Empire now has a Revered Speaker and all should be well with the world. Should. In fact, Revered Speaker Tizoc-tzin’s first holy war gained a merely marginal victory and produced only a handful of prisoners for sacrifice. The gods may have spared the world, for now, but they certainly do not seem to be happy.

When a warrior collapses and dies during a holy rite, it falls to Acatl to investigate.


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Death is the beginning

Harbinger of the Storm  (Obsidian and Blood, book 2)

By Aliette de Bodard  

19 Jan, 2016

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2011’s Harbinger of the Storm is the second volume in Aliette de Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood Trilogy.

Acatl, Tenochtitlan’s High Priest of the Dead, knows immediately when the Revered Speaker Axayacatl, Emperor of the Mexica, dies. The Emperor was vital to the maintenance of the wards that protect his empire from star demons, and his death has weakened the wards. A new emperor must be installed … quickly!

The new emperor will be chosen by the council, but the council finds itself under attack. A star demon has invaded the imperial palace and dismembered one of the councillors. Since the wards are only weakened, not gone, the star demon could not have entered without inside help. Some human sorcerer is meddling. It is up to Acatl to discover the identity and motives of the culprit, then frustrate the plot.


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Where Angels Rule

The House of Shattered Wings  (Dominion of the Fallen, book 1)

By Aliette de Bodard  

17 Nov, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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2015’s The House of Shattered Wings  is the first novel in Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen  setting1. Dominion of the Fallen  features a world much like our own, so much like ours as to have its own Paris, City of Lights. This secondary world has been a refuge for Fallen angels for at least the last eight hundred years. Powerful and avaricious, the Fallen easily dominate the humans around them. They have transformed France into a paramount power ruled over by the angel-led Great Houses of Paris. 

In 1914, the Great Houses turned on each other, transforming Paris from one of the world’s wonders into one of its great horrors. At the time in which this novel is set, the Great Houses War is long over, but Paris remains a post-apocalyptic desolation. Some Houses still stand, but they are much reduced from their glory days. 

Thus far, House Silverspires has been one of the lucky ones. It survived the War. It survived the loss of its founder, Morningstar. It survived the unending jockeying for position between the surviving Houses. Whether House Silverspires can survive what is to come is entirely unclear. 


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Not the House of Shattered Wings

Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship & In Morningstar’s Shadow

By Aliette de Bodard  

21 Oct, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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My review title for for this is Not the House of Shattered Wings, but that is just to avoid confusion. What this really isn’t is de Bodard’s Harbinger of the Storm, which I am holding off on reviewing until its author brings the Acatl books back into print. House of the Shattered Wings (part of her Dominion of the Fallen sequence) was plan B until I discovered my Kitchener Public Library’s copy was signed out. 

The nice thing about being in a mood for a de Bodard story is that instant gratification by means of ebooks is now an option. Since I was thinking about de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen setting anyway, I bought her short story Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship” from Kobo and since I noticed her related collection In Morningstar’s Shadow was free, I grabbed that as well1.

Onward!


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