The Tiger’s Daughter – K. Arsenault Rivera

3 Stars

Have you been looking for an epic fantasy, set in a second-world heavily influenced by Chinese history and full of lesbian romance and badass women? If so, The Tiger’s Daughter is the book for you.

Cover from Goodreads

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

O-Shizuka and Barsalayaa Shefali are wonderfully constructed characters (as are the rest), full of fire and passion and different kinds of strength. They are both incredibly gifted warriors, but where Shizuka is arrogant and firey, Shefali is quiet and steady. This is the story of their shared youth.

Told mostly through a single letter from Shefali, with short asides from the letter’s recipient Shizuka, their entire history is recounted from Shefali’s point of view. Through the letter, we are privy to Shefali’s inner thoughts about Shizuka and their escapades.

I have to admit, I found the letter construct a challenge. I really struggled with understanding WHY Shefali was writing a letter that basically recounted her entire history with Shizuka TO Shizuka – especially when it’s clear partially through the book that not much time has passed. Only a few years. It’s not like Shizuka would have forgotten all of this in the brief three years that have gone by. I really struggled with understanding where the letter was going and what its point was. (I struggle with books where I don’t see the “point” of the book by about halfway through. What are they supposed to be accomplishing?) The letter didn’t really relay much “new” information between Shefali and Shizuka. Obviously it’s all new information to the reader, but it’s really only the last chapter where new information is revealed.

Structural challenges aside, it’s a wonderful story with incredible characters and a well-fleshed out world.

The Tiger’s Daughter is available now through Tor. Come back next week for my review of the sequel, The Phoenix Empress.