book cover of The Water Outlaws
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The Water Outlaws

(The first book in the Water Outlaws series)
A novel by

2023 Nebula Award for Best Novel (nominee)

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.

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.

Genre: Fantasy

Praise for this book

"Burning Roses by S. L. Huang is a beautiful, deeply affecting novella that braids Western fairy-tale traditions with Chinese mythology in a way calculated to mash my every emotional button." - Amal El-Mohtar

"Paced at a flat out sprint, Zero Sum Game deploys an astonishing array of weapons together with the prickly charms of its math genius protagonist on her turbulent journey toward trust and connection." - Kate Elliott

"Intense, vivid, and insanely clever, with a great heroine--I couldn't put it down. If only more authors with math degrees used them like this!" - Yoon Ha Lee

"The smartest and thrillingest book you'll read all year." - Ken Liu

"S. L. Huang is amazing." - Patrick Rothfuss

"This book lines up like a perfect, elegant equation--it's fast, furious, and adds up to one of the coolest, most crackin' reads this year." - Chuck Wendig

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