Book Review: Fireheart Tiger

Aliette de Bodard

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 9th February 2021
spoilers? no


Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate—and her own?

Galley provided by publisher

I’ve read 5 or 6 books by Aliette de Bodard this year and consistently loved them all, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed Fireheart Tiger as much as I did. It’s on the shorter side for a novella and it so effectively tells the story that it sets out to, you feel at once satisfied with what you have and desperately craving more of the world and characters.

The story follows Thanh, who has returned to her mother’s court, after years away in Ephteria and following a mysterious fire in the royal palace. Now she is a diplomat, but this places her directly in the path of her first love, Eldris, a princess of Ephteria. Eldris wants Thanh for a wife, and her country in the bargain too wouldn’t go amiss, and Thanh has to choose between this or fighting for something more.

One thing I love about Aliette de Bodard’s writing is how easily it builds a world for you to immerse yourself in. It’s like, there aren’t any excess words used (if that makes sense). There are no long passages of exposition, it’s all built seamlessly into what’s happening. As someone who periodically skims over exposition, I really enjoyed that about this book.

At the centre of the book is a love triangle. I’m not someone who really likes love triangles as a trope, but here, both of the love interests were women and it was so refreshing. Of course, it isn’t the type of love triangle where you’re actually conflicted over who the mc ends up with, so I suppose that also helped. But my point is, the book was overwhelmingly sapphic in the best possible way. I never want to read a love triangle that’s not between three women ever again.

So if you were at all on the fence about reading this book, let this be a sign to come down off the fence and do so. And all the rest of Aliette de Bodard’s works while you’re at it.

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