A Fire Born of Exile

Previous: The Red Scholar’s Wake

The Scattered Pearls Belt is a string of habitats on the edge of a huge galactic empire—a glittering, decadent society rife with corruption. Now, one of its victims—Quỳnh, a scholar betrayed and left for dead—has come back for her revenge, under the guise of the glamorous and enigmatic Alchemist of Streams and Hills.

Quỳnh’s path intersects that of Minh, the daughter of one of her oldest enemies, who chafes at her own lack of freedom; and of Hoà, a near-destitute engineer who poses a threat to all Quỳnh’s careful plans. Quỳnh finds herself inexorably attracted to Hoà, even as her plans upend the fragile political equilibrium of the Belt.

Falling in love wasn’t part of Quỳnh’s plans; but will she be able to grasp this second chance at happiness, or will she cling on to a revenge that may well consume her whole?

A poignant, heartwarming romantic space opera about love, revenge and the weight of the past.

Praise for Aliette de Bodard:

“It took my breath away!” —Stephanie Burgis

“So romantic I may simply perish” —Tasha Suri

“Really fresh” —Katee Robert

“Confident, sexy and touching” —Max Gladstone

“Dazzling” —Everina Maxwell

“Swoon-worthy” —Susan, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

“A sumptuous, romantic experience” —The Financial Times

“Fizzingly inventive” —Alastair Reynolds

“A treasure” —Gareth L Powell


"Incredible... This is a world of dizzying tech, gorgeous illusions and twisty political thrills — catnip for readers who enjoyed Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy or Jacqueline Koyanagi’s “Ascension.”

New York Times

"Intricate and emotional... a touching sci-fi romance that will delight fans and new readers alike."

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"As usual in the Xuya stories, de Bodard weaves a solid adventure; this stands alone and so might be a perfect introduction to the series."


"A compelling, atmospheric tale of consequences, romance, and revenge. ... A Fire Born of Exile opens with a riot and doesn’t let up from there. Poisonings, intrigue, terrible secrets and tense confrontations combine in a tense, accomplished space opera, told with de Bodard’s usual vividness and verve. For my money, it’s an even better novel than The Red Scholar’s Wake, which I loved."

Locus Magazine

"As always, Aliette’s prose is impactful, and the relationships and emotional arcs of the characters are doubly so."

Lynne M. Thomas, co-editor of Uncanny Magazine