Guest Reviewed by ReadsLate
Title: The Tiger’s Daughter
Author: K. Arsenault Rivera
Series: Their Bright Ascendency #1
Heroines: Empress Yui Shizuka & Barsalayaa Shefali Alshar
Genre: Historical Fantasy, F/F Romance
Length: 507 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Even gods can be slain….
The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.
Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.
This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.
As I was scanning a list of Romance books, The Tiger’s Daughter stood out from all the others. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect. It is one of those books that crosses multiple genres and must drive book sellers nuts. It’s part historical, part fantasy, part epic adventure, part romance, F/F romance.
The Tiger’s Daughter deviates from typical romance narrative because of the narrative devises it employs. It starts with an adult Empress Yui-Shizuka who seems aloof, unhappy, and snappish. She receives a gift of a book and it is that book which provides us with the story. So, The Tiger’s Daughter is a story within a story. Barsalayaa Shefalit Alshar recounts the story of their lives together to Empress Yui or Shizuka.
This is not your typical storytelling. If you’ve gotten bored with the same kinds of heroes/heroines and same plotlines in your romance reading, The Tiger’s Daughter will be refreshing. Furthermore, the narrative framing is suspenseful from the beginning, because we know where Shizuka, Empress Yui is, but where is Barsalayaa Shefali. What happened to Shefali? And why is she not with her Shizuka? You just might find yourself staying up late to find out.
The story alternates between Shefali’s narration and a third-person narration of Shizuka’s experience. It also alternates between their history to briefly looking in on Empress Yui’s present-day. Since the two heroines are from different kingdoms with very different cultures, each learns about the other’s, and this gives the author a more organic way of filling in world-building details without having to break from the storytelling to do so for the reader.
The reader will quickly develop a fondness for Shefali. She’s completely devoted to Shizuka. She’s loyal and strong, brave and honorable. Whereas Shizuka is bold in her power, and almost blindly self-confident, Shefali is humble and happy to be in the shadows, so long as it’s Shizuka’s shadow. Yet Shizuka, for all her apparent arrogance and dismissive attitude towards others, is quick to throw the total weight of her power in defense of and to please those she loves.
Following Shizuka and Shefali on their adventures will keep you enthralled. Shizuka’s and Shefali’s destinies unfold in beautiful, poetic language and in a mysterious and magical land.
If you liked Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s series but wished for more F/F content, The Tiger’s Daughter is for you. Shizuka would seem less Phèdre nó Delaunay, however you catch a glimpse of Phedre in those moments when Shizuka embraces her power and moves care for those she loves, and to work to better her kingdom. Shefali might draw more obvious comparisons to Joscelin, if Joscelin ever got to narrate their story.
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*