starlady: Hei in the trees + text saying "in the TREES" (this is an in-joke)
[personal profile] starlady
Uehashi Nahoko. Moribito: Guardian of the Darkness. Trans. Cathy Hirano. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009.

So I read the first book in this series, Guardian of the Spirit, last month, and I liked it pretty well. But seriously, this second book is so much better! I was surprised at how much more I enjoyed Darkness, and I am doubly sad that the series has been put on hold in English due to weak sales. If you like these books, tell Arthur A. Levine that you want to see more of them! [personal profile] nijibug has some posts relating to the series in English here and here.

Oh yeah, the plot. So at the end of the last book our heroine the spearwoman Balsa decided it was high time she went back to the mountainous country of Kanbal, a fairly obvious cod-Korea, from which she was driven by the murderous intrigues of the King nearly twenty-five years earlier, when she was a girl of six. Balsa and her foster father Jiguro lived on the run until his death, Jiguro being forced to kill his old friends whom the king sent after them to keep both of them alive. What these events cost everyone involved--Balsa, Jiguro, their families, and the kingdom of Kanbal itself--is very much at stake, since as one of the King's Spears Jiguro had a prime part to play in the bidecadal ceremony in which the Kanbalese receive the precious stone luisha from the King under the Mountains so that they can feed their poor, mostly non-arable country.

Obviously the plot of this book is a lot more personal, and for my money I'm always more fascinated by the evils that people can do to each other--how easily truth is twisted, trust betrayed, passion subverted by ambition--than the generic "monster hunting a kid!" plot of the first volume. Balsa continues to be even more awesome, and the other native races of Kanbal, the Herders and the Ermine Riders, have a central part to play in the country's fate. Also I think the translation is less clunky this time around too.

I'd love to read more of Balsa's adventures. Next time I go to Book-Off I have another author to look for.
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