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As epic books go this one is up there with Game of Thrones and Harry Potter if they had been written by Stephen King or Clive Barker It has everything you could hope for love, war What makes it different is the focus that is adopted You are witnessing the spiritual growth and development of several people These characters believe in something and they search and do their best in order to achieve their goals It is also an exceptional insight into Japanese culture All the places described in the book are real places which makes it come alive for the reader who has been there The characters are actually real characters, but are given some great dialogue and they really come alive Last but not least the writer s style is very addictive and once you have started the book, you will not be able to put it down. Using a famous yet enigmatic swordsman as the basis for a well imagined story, the author describes a vivid and elegant world in wonderfully understated prose that perfectly evokes the period he so effortlessly describes The story in question is that of Soma Yoshimoto, the youngest son of an inconsequential lord during the Japanese civil war When his uncle betrays the clan by switching sides, Yoshimoto goes on the run with his governor, and aged monk and his two distant cousins.As the children grow up in hiding, fault lines develop in the relationships as Yoshimoto now named Jion is told to marry the eldest girl to untie what remains of the clans loyal to the Emperor, whilst harbouring feelings for the younger.Into this maelstrom of conflicting emotions come the themes of honour and duty, and the developing power within Jion who is able to cut arrows from the sky, and summon storms But the boys hatred for his uncle, and for General Ashikaga taints his training and it is here that he becomes prey to the dark forces which sponsor the Shogun s reign of terror.This book enables us to see the almost non person status of women at that time, particularly those who were used as bargaining chips in strategic marriages Indeed, in the characters of both Gozen and Altera, we see the stark choices that the women of the age had, and where society expected them to stand.Yet, in the character of Masako, although a temptress, she also gives us an admirable heroin with an integrity that is unmatched by the men who seek to control her.There is a full and rich cast, and this is a must for those looking to try a Far Eastern Fantasy. This is a unique fantasy, unlike any other I have read, and I am a big of the like of Magic The Gathering, World of Warcraft, and The Forgotten Realms.Yes, this is a story about a boy coming of age, and seeking revenge for his father s death, all set during the Japanese civil war.But it is than that there are whole world s painted in rich detail Mythologies that span centuries are brought to life and are woven into the historical narrative Legends are made flesh, and the battles are immense as they are gut wrenching.This is not just a story, this is world creating on such a vast scale that I am in no doubt that Wizards of The Coast and Games Workshop are weeping.That said, this is not perfect The main character is a little too close to Anakin although bearing in mind that is based on recorded history, maybe it is Anakin who is too close to Jion , and the dithering of the Council did slow things down somewhat.But the arc of The Oni than made up for it, and I found the character of Celus Kwon to be absolutely fascinating.If you like sprawling fantasy, then you will love this. As near as you can get, this is product is Lovecraft Howard Phillips and James Clavell wrote a book together whilst being serenaded by Stephen King.The setting is feudal Japan here using the historical name of Oyashima during the civil war that tore the country apart from the mid 1330 s to early 1390 Into the fray is thrown a little known Daiymo whose youngest son, when his father is killed, escapes and swears revenge in the best Hamlet tradition.Along the way he is aided by his governor the masterful Watanabe and a gregarious old monk the historical Otsuno Watanabe leads him to the path of duty and family honour whilst Otsuno shows him the cycles of violence only beget cycles of violence Coupled with the shadowy Nikko, a legion of rampaging Oni has there ever been an assassin like The Hunter , and the nefarious Ashikaga family, and there is makings of a great genre bending historical fantasy horror story.However, for me, I really enjoyed the parts with Marishiten Admittedly, there are few of these scenes, but the idea of a long dead god returning wearing a virgin s face although who knows what tentacles lurk beneath it really appealed to, and will no doubt to speak to the current generation who sees various Middle Eastern clans fighting for their god.In short, a gripping action packed yarn filled with philosophy history and tradition just Elder Creature from beyond The Void next time please. ( DOWNLOAD E-PUB ) ⚆ The Shackles Of A Name ⚔ One Boy One Destiny A Nation On FireIn The Lush Inzai Valley, Young Soma Yoshimoto Knows Little Of The War For The Chrysanthemum Throne That Has Raged Throughout Oyashima For The Last Twenty Years Instead, He Yearns To Leave His Noble Birth Behind Him And Become A Farmer But When His Father Is Assassinated, And His Village Slaughtered, Yoshimoto Must Flee With Only His Governor For Protection, An Old Monk For Advice, And His Two Cousins For CompanyAs Competing Factions Alternately Vie To Win His Loyalty Or Destroy Him, Yoshimoto Must Travel Further Than He Could Ever Imagine If He Is To Find His Father S Killer And Restore His Family NameYet It Is Not Just The Road That Brings Danger, For The Shadows Are Lengthening And An Ancient Darkness Stalks The Land Soon Yoshimoto Will Have To Confront Not Only His Destiny, And The Growing Power Inside Him, But He Must Decide Which Woman He Truly Loves And Which One To Sacrifice
A Japanese Game of Thrones This exceptional fantasy novel will definitely hold your attention, in fact it will grab you by the throat and won t let go It s not your typical DD style fantasy Don t expect mages, mercenaries, and the evil dark lord of the north taking over the world with an army of trolls Instead you will be immersed in an amazing and fascinating Japanese fantasy world, in which magic and ancient gods dominate the landscape The story explores an important and classic theme about the temptations and costs of power It manages this in a fresh and original way that is both compelling and thought provoking Set during Japan s bloody civil war, when spirituality was just being introduced to the samurai classes, this story has it all love, war, vengeance and redemption Some of the scenes were reminiscent of Game of Thrones without being derivative and while remaining fresh and original The characters were well written and likable, but be forewarned that despite your fondness for them some characters are destined to meet horrible ends This just adds to the reader s enjoyment and suspense since there is no guarantee that your favorite will survive all the way to the exciting conclusion I highly recommend this story, if you want an epic fantasy that is beyond the usual orcs, elves, and trolls, then this is for you. Marishitan Rises I thoroughly enjoyed this book It brought a forgotten Japan to life for me a place of heroes, love, villains and betrayal The cast is one of hundreds, filled with both ordinary and extraordinary people with great strengths and great weaknesses in short a truly vibrant and wondrous culture filled with shadows I was hooked from the prologue, with the return of Emperor Go Daigo from exile by the man who would betray him, found it the epic saga to be complete page turner It was a truly remarkable novel that has me searching out tales of Jion and the age of the Two Courts The wonderful characters I met, the amazing street scenes I witnessed The real and harsh issues of culture and caste, all so well described The harshness of the war and the destruction it can wreak on individuals was described with great power The resourcefulness of human beings and the depravity that can infest the human spirit all gave a great sense of truth to the novel There were some difficult elements towards the end, as the various strands of the subplot began to weave together This was jarred a little, but the end was just superb, although it did leave me feeling devastated Taken in its entirety, The Shackles of a name was a quite exceptional read. A Game of Names During my latest trip to buy some new fantasy, the cashier suggested that I might like to try this little known author and, on his recommendation, I picked this book up Nearly 300 pages and less than 2 days later it was finished.Although a little slow in starting, the storylines soon become engaging and you really do want to find out what happens next The book also contains a large number of surprises and means that you are never certain where each sub plot will lead.The book as a whole is almost three independent stories that are woven together Firstly, there is the civil war, where a besieged Emperor and ungrateful Shogun use every pawn at their disposal in a series of bloody battles against each other.The second storyline which in many respects is the main story has minimal interaction with the first and follows Soma Yoshimoto Jion, as he grows up, vowing to avenge his father s assassination at the hands of his uncle, who has joined the Shogun.The final storyline brings the first two together, where two sisters court the affections of Jion He is told he must marry the older girl to unite the clans, but he falls for the younger, who may or may not be a child of prophecy.As in most fantasy, there are apparent good and evil sides, but most of the characters have a degree of ambiguity which results in them doing something that you would not normally expect This ambiguity is a neat way to make you connect with characters from both sides in a way that you wouldn t usually do and although it may be a little uncomfortable, it also provides a better immersion for the reader.Another surprise is that magic here called mikkyo is present but not to a great extent, as overuse abuse leads to the loss of the ability so it is only used sparingly It is only hinted at in the first two storylines and is only fully in evidence at the end of the third.There are demonic entities, but they walk as humans, as these are the mystical Oni All the way through, because the story is primarily told from Jion s perspective, we think of the Oni as evil But, in the dying chapters, we learn that Oni is just a name, and is no indication of character which casts an interesting light on the nature of hero , given the monster that Jion is becoming.To close, I would like to mention that there are a couple of plot twists that left me open mouthed, a fact that I found most satisfying after I d recovered Also, there are a couple of particularly grisly deaths and this combined with some of the mature themes, indicate that this has been targeted at an 15 audience.I have tried to avoid any plot details since the impact of the book comes from not knowing what is going to happen next it has introduced all the storylines and got them to a point where they are all about to explode into action If you fancy something a little complex and with a definite adult bias, this could very well be the book for you. Title Ground breaking fantasy As a standalone book, this is excellent, bringing to mind the epics of Clavell s Shogun and Yoshikawa s Musashi Love and betrayal, against the back drop of a brutal civil war.However, where this excels is when you consider that this is part of the Spirals of Danu series Now don t get me wrong, you don t need to have read the other books to get this, but it helps.Ok, so I am a self confessed superfan From the moment I first read the short story The Demons of Emily Eldritch , I was hooked on the series No one is who they seem Demons here called the oni walk amongst us, subverting our destiny it is a heady mix of fantasy and conspiracy, reminiscent of The Dark Tower and the Books of Blood.With that in mind, this is not Jion s first outing He is seen several times in A Gathering of Twine , but only ever as a tertiary character, and a few hints at a complex history Here then, in The Shackles of A Name is that history although it may just be the first part of it and frankly it blew me away.It is fair to say that I am not easily impressed Having obsessed about books like The Beggar of Beliefs and The Call of The Black River was astounded me was the attention to detail The writer has dropped hints and clues in all his other books about this installment which given the scale of the premise and the volume of the output is nothing short of staggering, because it means that at any one time he is writing three or four books even if it is only in his head.So then, The Shackles A young boy goes on a question for revenge after his father is betrayed and his brother assassinated Along the way, mentors pull him in opposing directions, as alternate factions try to win his loyalty, and his choice of lover will decide the fate of a nation.It is punchy stuff, and if you like anything with samurai s or ninja s then you are going to love this But similarly there is a deep philosophy here that runs in all the books the nature of love and forgiveness the caustic side of revenge redemption and of course, my favourite, returning elder gods in such a manner that Lovecraft would beam with pride.This is a complex book, and in places it is pretty dense, but that is only because it is packing so much in There are all sorts of subtleties, misdirections and hints for the future.Perhaps the biggest problem with this book so than the others in the series , is that the setting is not in a western culture Sure, Game of Thrones is great fantasy, but is ostensibly a mish mash of American and European ideologies The Shackles well the level of research and historical detail is great, but that means that it is set in a wholly Buddhist environment Don t get me wrong, it doesn t preach or go into excess detail, but I do wonder if the narrow minded reader will struggle.Time will tell, but for now this is a two thumbs up from me Recommended. Having studied and read all about Maniwa Nen Ryu for several years, I am well versed with the legend of Jion, and how he wandered the world defeating all who came across him I picked up this book expecting that it would be merely one long ream of praise to his exploits, with maybe one or two pieces of information that I hadn t already seen.I was pleasantly surprised.This book is a veritable tour de force, starting with the young Soma Yoshimoto as he was known in the first place seeing his brother killed, and his village destroyed The book starts off at a run, and does not deviate from that pace, it does not skim anything, and when embellishment is required, it delivers with a style all its own The text is neither complicated nor obtuse, and the flow of the story is never interrupted or slowed to over explain something.Most of all, I was impressed by the fact that the book did not make Jion out to be the master of fighting that most books on him do Instead, it painted a picture of a man who, although extraordinary in his talents and abilities, was still a man There are numerous different anecdotes to the story and descriptions of the rites and rituals of manhood as they are encountered, and through it all, Jion meets his life with the grim attitude of a samurai born.For those who want to know a little about the man behind the legend, buy this book.For those who want a good book that will effortlessly hold their attention, buy this book.For those who want a book that does not make you think skip this The Shackles of a Name is deeply involving book that blends war, love and philosophy, and gives much food for thought.I cannot recommend this book enough.