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Finalist for the American Library Association Carnegie Medal
Inspired by a classic of martial arts literature, S. L. Huang's The Water Outlaws are bandits of devastating ruthlessness, unseemly femininity, dangerous philosophies, and ungovernable gender who are ready to make history—or tear it apart.
"This wuxia eat-the-rich tale is a knockout."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
In the jianghu, you break the law to make it your own.
Lin Chong is an expert arms instructor, training the Emperor's soldiers in sword and truncheon, battle axe and spear, lance and crossbow. Unlike bolder friends who flirt with challenging the unequal hierarchies and values of Imperial society, she believes in keeping her head down and doing her job.
Until a powerful man with a vendetta rips that carefully-built life away.
Disgraced, tattooed as a criminal, and on the run from an Imperial Marshall who will stop at nothing to see her dead, Lin Chong is recruited by the Bandits of Liangshan. Mountain outlaws on the margins of society, the Liangshan Bandits proclaim a belief in justice—for women, for the downtrodden, for progressive thinkers a corrupt Empire would imprison or destroy. They’re also murderers, thieves, smugglers, and cutthroats.
Apart, they love like demons and fight like tigers. Together, they could bring down an empire.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
In this addictive queer, feminist epic fantasy, Huang (Burning Roses) brilliantly retells the 14th-century Chinese classic Water Margin for a 21st-century audience. Arms instructor Lin Chong is proud to be one of the few women in the Song Empire's bureaucracy, but after she fights off sexual assault from the more politically powerful Marshal Gao Qiu, she is arrested, declared a traitor, and nearly beaten to death before she reaches prison. Luckily, she's saved by delightful scene-stealer Lu Da, the Flower Monk. Lu Da shares a god's tooth (a magical stone that imbues the user with power) with Lin Chong and takes her to the Liangshan bandits, a group of women and queer people who have "fallen off the edges of society," and who set out "to aid and protect" others like themselves—even if that means taking on the empire itself. By cycling through perspectives, Huang brings a large and varied ensemble cast to vibrant life, skillfully including queer identities in a way that feels historically and mythically resonant (bandit Chao Gai, for example, "rides the sixteen winds," an idiom for "people who changed the gender they lived as, for a time or permanently"). The author's background as a Hollywood stunt performer enriches the kinetic action sequences, which are both easy to follow and thrilling to read. This wuxia eat-the-rich tale is a knockout.