When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain


eBook, 176 pages

English language

Published Aug. 23, 2020 by Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom.

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4 stars (9 reviews)

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

3 editions

Another wonderful novella

5 stars

A perfect read for an automn evening with a cup of tea. Nghi Vo is an incredible storyteller, who never loses the reader in her stories of stories told by storytellers as well as tigers. In her world, tigers fall in love in young humans, or sometimes eat them, and sit around the fire listening and re-telling their side of the old stories... It is quite magic.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

4 stars

I wasn't sure at all where the rest of this series was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised that rather than aiming for some continuity in the story of the world, or even in character development, instead this book was a continuity of theme. This second (and third book) are both also stories about telling stories, although each of which comes with their different own framing and perspective.

This story is more adjacent to a classic Scheherazade setup, but there's more depth in the layering of the frame story here. I really enjoyed this book's negotiation over the truth of stories; there isn't one privileged truth, but rather different storytellers with their own audiences, as well as disagreements over what makes a good tale. Rather than this creating an unsatisfying ambiguity, I felt like the back and forth over how to tell the story created characterization and made …

Review of 'When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

While I really liked this book, I also disagreed with how the central romance was portrayed. (This seems appropriate, given that it's about conflicting tales of the same story). I liked that the tigers were characterized as fierce and unconstrained by human attitudes towards, well, killing and eating humans. However, this made the romance between <spoiler>Ho Thi Tao and Dieu read as abusive to me; it didn't seem sweet that she loved someone who destroyed her stuff and thought about killing her that much.</spoiler>

That said, this was a very enjoyable book to listen to. Chih and Si-Yu were wonderful, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Highly recommended

4 stars

I wasn’t quite sure how Nghi Vo would continue after her Empress of Salt and Fortune – after all, her main character Chih, the recording monk, is hardly fit to carry sustained narratives. I needn’t have worried: this never tries to burden them with that task.

Instead, we are treated (and what a treat it is) to another take on the magic of storytelling and the nature of truth. If Empress was all about the true story lying hidden, this is about how the truth of stories is negotiable. Formally consistent with, and sharing the same rich world building as its predecessor, this second instalment is as enjoyable as the first, a wonderful feat of complex storytelling happening without any of the usual fanfare.

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3 stars
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5 stars
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4 stars