Lin Chong is content with her position as an expert arms instructor to the Emperor’s troops and sees no need to push the status quo like some of her friends. Then she runs afoul of a powerful man who takes everything she’s worked for away from her. Branded a criminal and uncertain of her future, Lin Chong finds herself welcomed in to a group of bandits who turn out to care more about justice than the empire Lin Chong served. On their own they are formidable, but together, they just might be able to change everything.
This novel is a genderflipped adaptation of the classic Chinese novel Water Margin, but you don’t have to know anything about the original novel in order to enjoy it. It’s a great blend of action, intrigue, and adventure. Plus, I love the characters in this book. My favorites are Lu Junyi, Lin Chong, and Lu Da. Each of them brings a different perspective to the story, and it’s interesting to see how they navigate those in order to work together, and how they change one another. But there are so many interesting characters in the story. The author does such a great job making everyone so memorable which is great because there are a lot of characters. There are strong themes of sisterhood and solidarity.
It’s a dense read and one of those books that you want to take your time with. It reminds me more than a little of Witch King with the way it handles things like social justice and weaves it into the overall story. I was not at all familiar with the original Chinese novel on which this is based, but the author includes some great resources if you want to get into the original book which I really appreciated. I also think it’s a pretty great introduction if you are just getting into the wuxia and xianxia genres. Four out of five stars.