From Publishers Weekly
A fusion of historical fiction and adventure fantasy, the first volume of Heermann's Ronin Trilogy is a page-turning folkloric narrative of epic proportions. In a strange, supernatural feudal Japan, 17-year-old warrior Ken'ishi, a masterless samurai with a mysterious past and a legendary sword, saves the life of Kazuko, a powerful lord's daughter. Soon he becomes entangled in a deadly web of treachery, obsession and vengeance along with a bevy of conspirators, spies, assassins and otherworldly monstrosities. Though Heermann does little to push the boundaries of the subgenre, his writing style is confident and fluid, his characters well developed and his serpentine story line anything but predictable. Numerous tantalizingly unresolved plot threads will have readers anxiously awaiting the second installment in this gripping tale of ill-fated love, betrayal and destiny. (Feb.)
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Ken'ishi is a young ronin, an outcast warrior with no master. Left an orphan at a young age and raised by his teacher Kaa, he believes himself to be the son of a famous samurai, and carries his father's beautiful sword, Silver Crane, with pride. He wanders his world (reminiscent of medieval Japan) searching for somewhere to settle, accompanied by his faithful dog, Akao and speaking with the birds, whose language he alone understands. When he flees from a hostile village after killing the violent drunkard constable Takenaga, he runs straight into adventure - the opportunity to save the beautiful Kazuko, daughter of a wealthy nobleman, from ravaging bandits and then from Hakamadore, an oni (demon) who has been terrorizing the populace. In gratitude, Ken'ishi is invited to become part of Kazuko's father's household; but when he and Kazuko fall in forbidden love, he flees to seek his fortune. Pursued by his enemies and lauded by his friends, Ken'ishi continues the search for the secrets of his past and for a place to settle down. The tale is complex and atmospheric, but wildly overwritten and clunky; the first of a trilogy, it would benefit greatly by a page-count reduction of at least half. It is hard to see the forest for the proverbial narrative trees. -- manuscript review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization
This is a good story. I have no complaints. I haven't read a ronin's story in historical Japan before. The closest I've come is the Vagabond manga. Idea is unusual in the American market...plot is gripping, and prose is acceptable (though editing would only help). Overall, I want to keep reading the story, and would buy the book. Good luck in the semi-finals. -- Amazon Top Reviewer
This one captured my attention right away with the dialogue, descriptive wording, and the wonder of why the main character would be at the business end of a sword. I adore historical and that the main character has the ability to talk with animals really captivated me in this tale. I found that I wanted to know more about the characters, their situation, and what would happen next. While this story does use strange words and names, in no way did I feel like it required a dictionary to read. The storyline flows beautifully and really does present a wonderful beginning to a story. -- Amazon Top Reviewer