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This had me from the moment I heard the concept - that it’s a queered fanfic novella for a Wuxia TV show that doesn’t exist, loosely inspired by my precious space husbands in Star Wars: Rebel One.
I now CRAVE a fat pile of fanfic about this nonexistent TV show, dammit - hopefully this will gradually come into existence with the passage of time? In the meanwhile, if you have a penchant for wuxia and/or wish to read about former nuns kicking ass and resisting colonisers, and if you’re delighted by the prospect of a trans man as the main character, hie thee hither and buy the living daylights out of this lovely little book.
So fun! Smiling, laughing or wanting to hit them over the head... the band of bandits are travelling across the country and traveling with them you’ll want to know what happens and how it goes wrong, because it has to. Doesn’t it? In a war torn nation where the war has long since become a silent one, what’s anyone to do? The characters really make this one: The Nun and The Bandits.
Other reviews have mentioned and I have to agree, I wish this was longer! Having said that the story starts and ends at all the right points so I just have to hope Zen Cho comes back to this world. (Please?)
I have read some other books by Zen Cho, a Malaysian fantasy writer and accordingly wanted to read all her works. I am afraid of not doing her justice or putting people off, which would be a shame. The story is about a group of bandits who meet up with a Buddhist nun and together they go to sell some stolen temple artifacts. (All of that is superficially true but not the whole truth) I think I learnt more about Buddhism, empathy and corruption in one book than if I had studied religion and politics for a year. Humour runs through it all and I felt like I had been given a genuine insight into third world characters and a situation far more complex than instant sound bites. At the end of the book I was glad I had purchased it and feel a more rounded person for having done so. I gather the label is wuxia fantasy, regardless of that read it.
I'm not sure what I expected with this but it's a gem. A lovely Malaysian bit of fantasy which has a nice slow, meandering plot built on solid character interactions. Check it out yourself, it's great.