Review: The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard

Review: The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de BodardThe Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard

Published by JABberwocky Literary Agency on March 21st 2017
Also by this author: In the Vanishers’ Palace, The Tea Master and the Detective (The Universe of Xuya), Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, Fireheart Tiger, Seven of Infinities, Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances, The Red Scholar's Wake
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 164

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences-its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.
Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.
But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel's power.
But the Citadel's disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences...
A new book set in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Xuya universe.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls is the first book in the xuya universe written by Aliette de Bodard, and it’s available in the Kobo Plus program. I’ve read her other xuya book, The Tea Master and the Detective, before and loved it. This one was nothing like I expected though. In a good way.

De Bodard brings viet culture to outer space in her xuya books, and mixes them with sci-fi tropes and stories. It’s an excellent choice if you want something different. It’s really is unlike anything else I’ve read before. While The Tea Master and the Detective was pretty straightforward, The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was more complex. Include time travel, intricate political drama, and complex family dynamics, and you’ve got something that blows your mind. You can’t afford to look away because you’ll get lost.

Still, despite the complexity of the story, you’ll be sucked in anyway. De Bodard’s excellent writing never fails to enchant me. The worlds she creates, the characters, the dialogue, I love all of it. You want to know what happened to the mindship and why. The biggest downside of the story is its ending. It’s the perfect setup to another, grander, story. But we’re not getting it. I wonder if we’ll see more of it in other books.

I give The Citadel of Weeping Pearls four stars. It’s one of the more complex books Aliette de Bodard has written and I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But as a fan of her work, I really enjoyed it. Just not enough as some of the others. I’m really enjoying the xuya universe stories and I’m always looking forward to the next one. Seven of Infinities was released not too long ago, so I can jump right into the next one.

About Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories which have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire, inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (Roc/Gollancz, 2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace/Gollancz, 2017 European Science Fiction Society Achievement Award, Locus award finalist). (Photo taken by Lou Abercrombie)

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