Sunday, December 18, 2022

Review: The Red Scholar's Wake by Aliette de Bodard

The Red Scholar's Wake
(Xuya Universe Romance)
Aliette de Bodard
Release: November 24, 2022
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Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates' enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si's help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si's technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together...

An exciting space opera and a beautiful romance, from an exceptional SF author.

I've loved Aliette de Bodard's Xuya Universe series for a while now so I was super excited when she announced she was writing a romantic sapphic space opera set in it! I was just excited for a new Xuya book but Y'all! She wrote a book about lesbian space pirates that features a romance between a scavenger bot engineer and a sentient space ship who also happens to be the leader of a band of space pirates.

Y'all. I need Aliette de Bodard to write more space opera romances! The romance in this was a slow burn filled with a lot of will they or won't they and so much sexual tension. I may have squealed when Rice Fish and Xích Si started to get together. Aside from the romance, this book was full of political intrigue, found family, family drama, grief, and lots of queerness. It was also about learning to be brave and how to dream bigger than your circumstances have dictated while finding your place in the universe. It was soft, romantic and I wanted more of this world when I finished. 

My only complaint is I needed more space battles to go along with the political intrigue. I loved the Vietnamese-inspired world building and how beautiful and imaginative de Bodard's writing is. I will say that the world might be a bit confusing at the first if you go into this without having ever read any of this author's other work. One thing I have adored about this world is the sentient space ships and how they are portrayed. I love that they have avatars and bots and can interact with the world! They have feelings and  hopes and dreams and I just love them so much!

I was so excited to see the announcement at the end of the book that there is going to be a sequel/companion novel for this book and its going to be another romance set in the Xuya Universe! I hope it comes out this next year because my hands are itching to get a hold of it!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books by this author:
Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

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