Book Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo


A northern barbarian is sent south to marry the emperor. Once she bears a son, she’s sent into exile with only her faithful servant at her side. But her story doesn’t end there. Her story is just beginning.

Angry mothers raise daughters fierce enough to fight wolves.

Oh. My. Goodness.


I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it is. It’s about the anger of women in a society built to keep them powerless, and how women can get away with literal political coups by using the very tools that men poo-poo as silly, frivolous things to rip power away.

It took me a minute to get into the story, as it’s set about 60 or so years after the events take place and things were a little confusing at first. Cleric Chih is on a quest to uncover what really happened during the Empress In-yo’s time in exile, and stumbles into the empress’s former handmaiden, Rabbit.

While the main action occurs through Rabbit’s tales of the past, the present is very much important.

However, Rabbit recounts her fierce bond to her mistress, and how their unlikely relationship endured through the years—Rabbit wasn’t seen as a threat by the men in power and therefore was allowed to remain, but she was probably the most important part of In-yo’s schemes because she was the most invisible of them all.

I absolutely adored In-yo, the “uncouth barbarian” who eschewed southern etiquette for practicalities.

In all fairness, she did a great deal of business from her bed, still in her nightclothes. In-yo used to say that if she were going to be doing this kind of business, she might as well be comfortable.

Anywho, it’s short, feminist as fuck and very Asian. If you’re into all of those things (in addition to fantasy), definitely check this novella out.

In-yo would say that the war was won by silenced and nameless women, and it would be hard to argue with her.

Do you understand?

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune released March 24, 2020, from

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