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NetGalley Review: Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo

Hey all, Sam here.

As it turns out, yesterday was not a good day, and I almost slipped back into that depressive funk that I was trying to climb out of. But I’m pushing through, trying to move forward, to try and keep the actions and words of others from destroying my creative drive at every turn in the path of life. So here I am, with a book review that I had meant to post a couple weeks ago. But I will go ahead and apologize if the review ends up being a little more scattered than normal. I’m not exactly having an easy time focusing on things. I just want to curl up on the couch and wallow while binge-watching comfort movies and TV shows.

But…on the side of good things happening for the day…the next three episodes of “The Legend of Vox Machina” Season 2 will be dropping on Prime Video soon, and I’m fairly certain that one of my favorite moments from Campaign 1 of Critical Role will be happening in these episodes. No spoilers obviously, but perhaps a couple weeks after the season wraps, we will do a review (with some spoilers) discussing it all.

All right, let’s go ahead and jump into the review.

The Hugo, Locus, Igynte Award Finalist and Crawford Award-Winning Series

Wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themselves far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be.

Accompanied by Almost Brilliant, a talking bird with an indelible memory, Chih confronts old legends and new dangers alike as they learn that every story—beautiful, ugly, kind, or cruel—bears more than one face.

The Singing Hills Cycle

The Empress of Salt and Fortune
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain
Into the Riverlands

The novellas of The Singing Hills Cycle are linked by the cleric Chih, but may be read in any order, with each story serving as an entrypoint.

My Thoughts

My Rating: 4 stars

Okay…I don’t remember if this is my first novella of The Singing Hills Cycle….yep, I checked. This is the only one of the series I’ve read. And I can absolutely say that it seems true that you can start at any point with these stories, but obviously I’ll need to read the others before I can fully confirm the assertion.

This was a well written tale, and I’m hopeful the rest of the series will be the same. It seems to be centered on the wandering cleric known as Chih and their quest to travel around and collect stories. With their talking bird companion Almost Brilliant, they encounter all sorts of folks and get involved in all sorts of scenarios.

I like books that have the feel of magical realism or folklore and mythology. And because this is a series of novellas, they also read pretty quickly, which is also nice.

Sadly, what I’ll say is that I read this book in the middle of the night, while driving back home after a convention. Long days on the road are exhausting, and I have a difficult time sleeping because of how bumpy the ride is, so I try to distract myself with reading books. When I decided to pick this one up, it was around midnight and I had just finished a longer book, and I knew we only had a couple hours until we stopped for the night, and I didn’t want to get into something that would be long or require a lot of focus. A novella seemed to fit the bill.

I enjoyed reading this. It didn’t take long to get into the story and figure out what was going on and distinguish between the characters. But I can also admit that I was tired, and despite an inability to sleep in the van, I did nod off a few times. So, maybe I missed some things in the story. Maybe if I read this again, my 4 star review will increase, because I would be more alert with taking in the story.

Still, what I remember was good and enjoyable. Oh, and I saw where they revealed the cover for the next novella in the cycle, and honestly it’s made me excited to pick up the other stories and read them all.

Okay, well that is all from me for today. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I will be back soon with more geeky content.


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