I read ‘The Gilded Wolves’ as part of May’s Asian Readathon. After completing this book, I sat with it for quite a bit. There was so much thought-provoking content with regards to the world building and cultural context in 19th century Europe, so I want to make sure my words came through clearly.
‘The Gilded Wolves’ by Roshani Chokshi takes place in Paris in the year 1889. It is a world influenced by magic, its rules heavily monitored through the Order of Babel. Four Houses (groups) exist within France, with one group rendered into inactivity. The story begins with a theft, a powerful House leader left without her treasured piece of jewelry. It is up to Severin, a wealthy hotel atelier, to gather his group of close companions to regain this treasure. Severin was once guaranteed his inheritance into the inactive House Vanth, and his work in regaining this piece will guarantee his lineage.
One thing that I really appreciated from reading ‘The Gilded Wolves’ was that all of the main characters reflected different regions of the world. Chokshi painted a lovely picture of the supporting characters, each representing a different region of the world. She also describes the discrimination each character faced in their path to success One member faced hardship due to racism, while another battled her struggles in social settings. Although it wasn’t stated, her condition was strikingly similar to one living with autism. It was refreshing to see a character represented in such a positive way.
The world building was very extensive in ‘The Gilded Wolves’, and this was contributed towards the magical system. Everything was ruled under Forgery (solid and liquid objects manipulated into the creator’s liking), and Chokshi illustrates both the positive uses of Forgery, and implementing it to break a person’s will (I still cringe when thinking about the Phoebus Helmet!). While these guidelines were many, I loved learning about this magical system, and how it relates to the Houses working in harmony.
‘The Gilded Wolves’ was a very thought-provoking read, and it lead me to truly care about the characters as they went deeper into their adventure. It makes me curious as to what their next excursion will bring in the sequel!
For the month of June, I’m going to continue reading Asian themed novels. I received two new books as I was taking on the Asian , and just never got to them in time! My reading pace is just THAT slow, lol!
These are the books I’m planning on reading during June. I may add on as the month progresses:
Synopsis: People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.
is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed
forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death,
assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the
sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would
be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish
him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the
kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.
Synopsis: Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.
In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna “the Buried.” He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter’s translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt’s homophobic culture. A different kind of friendship was formed with the neighborhood garbage collector, an illiterate but highly perceptive man named Sayyid, whose access to the trash of Cairo would be its own kind of archaeological excavation. Hessler also met a family of Chinese small-business owners in the lingerie trade; their view of the country proved a bracing counterpoint to the West’s conventional wisdom.
Synopsis: In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.
The stranger’s arrival marks the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a bad match—she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.
As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins, and across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.
At the moment I’m reading ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ by Natasha Ngan. I’m a little over 50 pages into the story. I really appreciated the trigger warning of violence and sexual assault before the novel begins, and it’s pretty accurate. Despite reading some intense content within the first couple chapters, I’m still enjoying the book. The world building of Ikhara is also very in depth, and I’m completely taken in with the many clans/castes in each region.
Although I’m reading ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’, I’m also reading ‘Crooked Kingdom’. I’m pacing my reading so I don’t become too overwhelmed with several books at once.
This month is a very, very lackluster reading period…I’m in progress of reading one book at the moment. That story is Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo. I wanted to read this story at the beginning of April, but it never came to pass. Better late than never, I guess!
Now that May is approaching, I want to get back into reading more than one book per month. Since the Asian Readathon is during the month of May, I decided to give it a go! I set my goal to reading three books this month. If I get to these books, great. If I can read more, even better!
Read a book by an Asian author ‘The Gilded Wolves’ by Roshani Chokshi
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
Read a book featuring a Intersectional Asian character ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ by Natasha Ngan
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.