The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
Once upon a time, a bandit walks into a small coffeehouse, and walks out with a nun, an adventure, and more trouble than he ever bargained for.
“Huh?” said Tet Sang.
“Oh, I’m joining you all,” said Guet Imm, wide-eyed. “Didn’t I say already?”
This was short, sweet, and I kinda want a sequel?
I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant about this one because I had DNF’d Cho’s first novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, which had been a highly anticipated read. But after some assurances from several trusted bloggers, I dove right into this one.
I haven’t dipped my toe into the wuxia fantasy waters before, so this was highly entertaining and different and altogether quite fun. This is about found family, if your family is squabbling, kinda ragged, hella queer and run by a man who probably stepped out of a GQ ad.
As a formerly cloistered nun with little experience of the outside world yet far more esoteric power and knowledge than anyone expected, Guet Imm was innocent, naive and so much fun to read. She fully inserts herself into the band of bandits—with the initial explanation that she’s going to wash their clothes so they don’t smell like a group of bandits, and then helps with healing, banter and trying to find a buyer for the sacred objects from a temple of the Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water.
And while I was initially draw to the bandit leader, Fung Cheung, he wasn’t as fully developed or as explored as I would have liked. Instead, the narrative focuses on Tet Sang—the mysterious number two in the group who has a doubly mysterious past. A past that Guet Imm uncovers, bit by bit.
Anywho, in addition to being about finding your way after being lost and hiding/reinventing yourself, this has a lot of commentary on civil war, the varying levels of banditry, colonialism and religion. It’s fascinating, insightful and celebrates Asian—particularly Chinese—history and legend, and the role of women in society.
And did I mention it’s queer as hell?? Gay men, trans men and a nun who is definitely queer.
Definitely a story to check out.
I received this ARC from Edelweiss for an honest review.
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water releases June 23, 2020 from Tor.com.