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I got two gifts and a treat this year!

The Examinations (Imperial Radch): Daos Ceit looking back and forward, contemplating what the Radch means and what it means for her to join it. Some really beautiful phrasing and images.
On Political Murder (Queen's Thief): In which Lady Heiro and her friends talk plays, play politics, and are witty, clever, and funny while managing court intrigue. It's great!
Artless (Queen's Thief): A very different but just as compelling story about Heiro from King of Attolia onward.

Some other stories that I really liked, in fandoms that will not surprise anyone:

Imperial Radch

There were so may good stories! But I especially think you should read:

Prayers for the Dead, a terribly sad but wonderfully good story about Skaaiat at the moment when she learns that Justice of Toren has disappeared.

The Thousand Arms, about Anaander Mianaai at the very beginning, when there are still some bugs in the hook-ups with herself, ancillaries and expansion aren't quite accepted, and some people will still dare argue with her. Brilliant and awful and wonderful.

Diana Wynne Jones

Hot Iron (Chrestomanci), a long plotty story about Janet and the other Gwendolyn doubles, and a new 12-series world that could have been invented by DWJ herself.

Vox Populi (Derkholm), a short sweet story about Titus and Isodel sorting things in the Empire. Also nails the tone and ethos of the books.

Goblin Emperor

An Unquiet Beast. A brilliant and quite painful post-novel study of Hesero Nelaran: the disintegration of her marriage to and love for Setheris, her attempts to salvage something of her life, the incredibly cruel and vicious world of court politics and sub-aristocratic hanging on.

Historical RPF

Arms and the Men (Battle of the Tollens River, 1250 bce): the story of a bronze-age battle, with hints of post-Homerica. Very clever prompt, and it was filled really really well.

Hark a Vagrant: The Nemesis

Flintlock through the heart, and you're to blame: come for the hilarious ship names, stay for the surprise ending. Probably the most heartwarming story I read in the collection.

Duel to be Kind: featuring midnight duels over Euclid and pining for the enemy of one's heart.

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