Friday, July 10, 2020

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, by Zen Cho

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Silkpunk) Tet Sang and his brothers aren’t really bandits, but the ex-nun they pick up in a tea-house brawl is definitely going to interfere with them delivering a “package” to an important client. (33,048 words; Time: 1h:50m)

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"The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2020.353 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story is mostly from Tet Sang’s point of view, but it’s just as much Guet Imm’s story. Both have experienced terrible loss, and both are trying to find a way forward. The other “brothers” are entertaining, but even Lau Fung Cheung is mostly there for entertainment.

Ostensibly the plot is about trying to sell the sarira to the Yeoh family. Much of the fun is watching the brothers sneak around the countryside, first trying to make the original delivery and then trying to get to the Yeohs and do the deal directly. Both Sang and Imm have secrets, which come out gradually right through the climax.

Con: Guet Imm causes so much trouble at the start that it was impossible for me to believe that the men didn’t just kill her—or try to. That scene really challenged suspension of disbelief.

When Guet Imm asks whether Tet Sang is “really” a woman it matters a great deal in the context of the story. The goddess doesn’t care about your physical body, but to serve her, you have to be a woman on the inside. But the story leaves the impression that Tet Sang is really male, albeit physically female, so I’m not sure how the conclusion is supposed to work.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I am rating this a 4-star story. Worth reading for consideration to any awards that one can nominate for.

    Guet Imm, the ex-nun does cause a lot of trouble, but she is a nun and the men do respect that.

    There is magic in this story (making it a fantasy) but the user has to be discreet about it, so it is mainly hidden and not used that often.