Award-winning author Aliette de Bodard returns in this fantasy novella that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl's Moving Castle in a precolonial Vietnamese-inspired world.
Thanh is royalty in a beleaguered nation of scattered provinces pressured on all sides. The daughter of ancestors armed with swords and courage, she was fostered in a foreign capital to seal an alliance, and returned—to her powerful mother's disappointment—quiet and thoughtful instead of brash and confident.
Propped up by the guns and silver of Ephteria, a far more powerful empire, her country is losing the game of power. In Eldris, an Ephterian princess, Thanh finds both romance and intoxicating risk. Eldris may desire her, but she doesn't respect what Thanh holds dear.
Giang, the mysterious serving girl who appeared to her the night of a terrible fire and who has deep secrets of her own, might be the one who holds the key to love, freedom, and true…