Fireheart Tiger by Aliette De Bodard is a sapphic romantic high fantasy novella. But it’s also so much more than that. Adding to that, the cover of the book is exceptionally beautiful!
Set in a Vietnam-esque world, our main character Thanh is the youngest princess of Bình Hải who was kept as a captive princess in Ephteria and is treated as a pawn in her own country. She’s neither a warrior or a politician like her sisters – she’s the princess who was sent away, who came back, not brash and confident, but quite and thoughtful.
She’s entrapped in a love triangle with her former lover Eldris and her fire wielding magical friend Giang. Between the two you’ll come to love Giang and will observe the toxicity of Thanh’s relationship with Eldris – the princess of Ephteria.
As it’s a novella you won’t find descriptive world building taking place which at times you’ll yearn for, being a Tolkien’s fan I think this is something I always look forward to in books.
The fire element explored through Giang’s character reminded me of Rin from The Poppy War though this time the power to wield fire has nothing to do with a God yet control over it is in equal measures minimal.
You’ll sympathize with Thanh as she tries to make a place for herself in the world and discovers love in various forms. You’ll enjoy the discussion of imperialism and colonialism. But most of all you’ll be delighted to read a sapphic romance with South Asian representation. The author has also subtly shown colonialism and imperialism from the very first page of the novella.
Though I do believe that the story would’ve been more impactful had it been a novel instead of a novella. With that I rate Fireheart Tiger a solid 3 bookmarks. I think a full format of the story would’ve allowed the author to write more about a post-colonial Vietnam and elaborate on a romance which goes beyond calling the love interest as sister, I also think it would allowed me to fall into the world completely.
I’d like to thank Tor Publicity for providing me with an e-ARC of the book and I’d also like to congratulate the author for writing such a brilliant sapphic romance.