CBR14 Bingo: “Elephant” – There’s a metaphorical elephant in the room, no one seems willing to discuss how the system of repressing people’s freedoms is causing the rot at the heart of the dragon empire.
First of all, thank you, Emmalita, for bringing this to my attention. You were right, I did enjoy it and it’s the perfect length for this stage of the bingo game! Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murder is a novella set after the events of de Bodard’s “Dominion of the Fallen” trilogy. I have not read them but was able to get along just fine. Though I must say, after having read Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murder, I am definitely interested in the preceding trilogy.
Thuan, a dragon shifter prince, returns home with his fallen angel husband, Asmodeus, to celebrate Tet, the Lunar New Year festival. Not long after their arrival at court a murder occurs and the two of them are pulled in to investigate. As Thuan and Asmodeus track down leads, they find out how unstable the empire has become.
The pair are the epitome of opposites attract. Thuan is the “bookish one”, mild mannered, and highly moral. Asmodeus is the “ruthless one”, violence just below the surface, and disdainful of morals but with a code. While he may cheerful dismember someone for entertainment, Asmodeus only engages in consensual sex. There is a passion and sexiness between these two, and I wish this novella were longer so that could be explored more.
I live in a high population Vietnamese community, we have a big Tet celebration every year. There is much I like about this story but I especially appreciated reading Eastern inspired fantasy drawing from Vietnamese culture. Until now, I’ve only read those based on China and Japan (I’m currently in an audiobook series drawing from China). This made Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murder particularly refreshing. I loved the details de Bodard put in. Details I wouldn’t have necessarily noticed or appreciated were I not living in my community.
Note: I drew a traditional Tet five fruit tray at the feet of the elephant. There is variation on what is included dependent on region and what is fresh at the time of the festival. I’ve included green bananas, persimmons, oranges, kumquats, and a pomelo. A “Mam Ngu Qua” (five-fruit tray) on the ancestral altar during Tet holiday symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to Heaven and Earth and their ancestors, and demonstrates their aspiration for prosperity.”