Archives par étiquette : THE POET EMPRESS


In the declining Azalea Dynasty, where poetry magic is forbidden to women, rice farmer Wei tricks her way into being selected as imperial concubine to a cruel tyrant and must harden her heart and learn to wield literomancy in secret in order to change the fate of an empire.

by Shen X. Tao
on submission
(via Mushens Entertainment)

In the waning years of the Azalea Dynasty, the emperor is dying, the land is consumed by a famine, and poetry magic is lost to all except the powerful. After the fifth death of a sibling, young rice farmer Wei Yin is determined to save her family from desperate hunger, a difficult feat when women are forbidden from education, and crucially, literacy.

Wei finds her chance to improve the conditions of her family and her village when Prince Terren, the cruel, unkillable heir to the throne, begins a search for concubines to bear him a son. Wei tricks her way into the inner court, but little does she know, life in the lush and enchanted Azalea Palace is rife with danger and brutality she wasn’t ready for. For one, there is a covert succession war; Terren’s influential eldest brother, the one who should have been heir, has long been eyeing the crown. For another, Terren’s thirty concubines are fighting a war of their own, for the position of future empress. They know to whisper sweet words and deliver pretty smiles in public, but when nobody is looking, they are not afraid to sabotage each other with rumours or poison.

But most terrifying of all is the prince himself. Terren turns out to be just as sadistic as the rumours, willing to torture even the most powerful of those who cross him, let alone a peasant girl with no status. To survive in court, Wei must harden her heart, rely on her wit, and become dangerous herself, even if it means learning the forbidden art of poetry magic and wielding the most powerful spell of all—a heart spirit poem that requires the wielder to love the target in order to kill them.

Chinese-Canadian author Sophia Tao (writing as Shen X. Tao) has dreamed of publishing fantasy stories since she was seven. Though her roots lie in Nanchang and Toronto, she later moved to Seattle to be closer to the mountains and the ocean, where she currently resides with her partner, her piano, and her menagerie of stuffed critters. When not working as an engineer, she can be spotted hiking, taking long walks in the city, or feeding the local park geese. Sophia is a finalist for the Mike Resnick Memorial Award for science fiction and a two-time finalist for the PNWA unpublished novel contest, and a graduate of the 2023 Taos Toolbox and Viable Paradise speculative fiction workshops.