Into the Riverlands
There are a number of good reasons for pre-ordering books. One of them is the pleasant surprise you get when a book you had forgotten you had bought suddenly turns up on your Kindle. That happened to me last week when I was reminded that a new Nghi Vo novella was due out. I loved the previous two books in the Singing Hills series, and immediately dived into the new one.
In this book Cleric Cheh has wandered into the south of the Empire of Anh, to a region known as The Riverlands. Hence the title of the book. It is a fairly lawless area, prone to infestations of bandits. Years ago, the region was home to the infamous Hollow Hand Cult. Cheh, of course, is there to collect stories. And I’m pleased to report that the neixin bird, Almost Brilliant, is once again on hand to help her human remember all that is said, and to snark elegantly.
Thanks to a brawl in an inn, Cheh makes the acquaintance of two interesting pairs of people. One pair is composed of Wei Jintai, a martial arts master, and her companion, Mac Sang. Almost Brilliant recognizes Wei Jintai as an exponent of the famous and very rare Southern Monkey style of fighting. The other two are Lao Bingyi and Khanh, and elderly couple who live locally and seem surprisingly fit and sprightly.
If you are starting to think “this sounds like a Wuxia story”, then you would be dead right.
Together, five humans and a bird head off through the Riverlands to a town called Betony Docks where Lao Bingyi and Khanh live. Along the way, Cheh encourages their companions to tell stories of famous people of the past. Inevitably the journey turns out to be much more of an adventure than anyone had hoped. Some of the stories turn out to bear a close resemblance to the one about Chekov and his gun.
Into the Riverlands is about three things. It is about showing that Nghi Vo can write Wuxia. Of course she can. It is also about how real events turn into stories with the passage of time. And finally it is about what happens to the heroes of stories when the events in which they starred are far in the past.
Of course, if Nhgi Vo wrote a Singing Hills story in which Cheh writes a shopping list, goes to market to do the shopping, and then comes home and cooks a meal, I would love reading it and tell you it was a great story. Because it would be.
Title: Into the Riverlands
By: Nghi Vo
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