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The Leopard Mask (The Guin Saga, Book 1) Hardcover – June 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1979 and the first of a planned 100 books in the series (87 of which have already appeared in Japan), Kurimoto's fantasy provides plenty of straightforward action and adventure. Guin, a man with no memory, has the highly trained body of a warrior, the reflexes and fighting style of a large cat and, mysteriously, the mask of a leopard firmly fixed over his head. After the duchy of Mongaul invades the kingdom of Palos, Guin rescues the regal preteen "twins of Parros," Rinda and Remus, from a Mongaul patrol pursuing them through the Forest of Rood. Guin and the headstrong twins band together to fight their mutual enemies, but Janos, the weaver of fate, has other plans for them. They end up as prisoners of Count Vanon of Stafolos Keep, who has a curious wasting disease and an evil miasma about him. Kurimoto has launched a rousing tale of intrepid heroes, horrid villains and wicked supernatural creatures. A fast read with hardly any internal reflection on the characters' part, this book will probably appeal most to young adults.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“A rousing tale of intrepid heroes, horrid villains and wicked supernatural creatures.” –Publishers Weekly

“The Guin Saga was the most [inspiration for Berserk]. I started reading it in junior high and I’m still reading the new volume every month.” –Berserk creator Kentaro Miura

“This is classic fantasy at its best.” –Book Sense (Fall 2003 Science Fiction and Fantasy Top Ten)

“Readers should be warned that once you start this journey, it will be nearly impossible to leave it unfinished.” – SFRevu

“Japan’s answer to The Lord of the Rings.” –The Globe and Mail

“Kaoru Kurimoto manages the flurry of situations being set up and resolved like the trick of a putting a hand on a table with fingers spread out, then stabbing a blade between the outstretched digits. The speed and coordination is that amazing.” –Scott Green, Ain’t It Cool News
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Product Details

  • Series: Guin Saga (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical; 1st US Ed edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932234519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932234510
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,251,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

As if this isn't something that characters within the story would notice.
skytwo
When I was a junior high school student,I first read the Japanese version of "The Guin Saga,Book 1."I've finished reading Book 89.
Mimura Ayako
That aside, there's a really annoying printing error with pages 113-136 being repeated.
Shi-Hsia Hwa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Guin Saga Book One: The Leopard Mask By Kaoru Kurimoto is a disturbing and dramatic fantasy of a deadly war between ancient kingdoms. The only surviving royalty of the losing kingdom are rescued by a creature with a man's body and a leopard's head, a being who remembers nothing of his past except for his name - Guin. It is Guin's search for his identity and destiny that leads to an exciting political intrigue and an evolving, exhilarating journey of discovery.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on November 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In 1979, Kaoru Kurimoto wrote the first of what was planned as a 100-episode fantasy series. Now, with 86 of those in print, the Guin Saga is a Japanese bestsller, and thanks to Vertical Publishing US fans will be able to find out what the excitement is about.
Anyone partial to heroic sword-and-sorcery is a shoo-in to like THE LEOPARD MASK, the first of five books in the saga to be reprinted. However, there is a richness of both story and world-building that sets this book above simple action adventure and leaves the reader eager for the next installment.
Fourteen-year-old royal twins Rinda and Remus are hiding in a dangerous haunted marsh from the minions of the evil Vlad, Duke of Mongauli. Vlad has destroyed their own country and exterminated their family, but the valiant Rinda is determined she and her brother will one day regain what they've lost.
They are rescued from a patrol of Vlad's soldiers by a mysterious and powerful warrior whose head is eerily encased in a metal mask shaped like a leopard. Other than his name-Guin-he remembers nothing, not where he comes from or how he acquired the mask. When, despite his efforts, he and the twins become prisoners in Vlad's fortress, they discover there is a greater evil behind the savage warlord than they could ever have imagined.
One might describe this book as literary anime, for it contains many of the elements of both that and manga. It has the feisty young heroine, a thoroughly perverse villain and a mighty hero who vanquishes overwhelming odds despite his own troubles. The complex plot, which hints at difficulties to come, never goes beyond the boundaries of disbelief, and the dangers the twins and their protector face are as often psychological as physical.
There is nothing simplistic about the characters, either.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "root668" on July 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've read the first book and it's really moving along well. I found it very readable, and a good revitalization of the Japanese, which was pretty dated. The first five books in the series form a complete story, and I have a feeling that is all they will translate. Hopefully they can avoid the problems later on in the series that way!
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By skytwo on February 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I haven't read this translation. But I have read the first dozen books in the series in Japanese. And while there are some bright spots (I wouldn't have read so many if there weren't), there isn't much to recommend them.

The characters are all recognizable adaptations of standard Western fantasy/sci-fi archetypes-- the lovable rogue, the spunky princess, the ruthless conqueror, and the musclebound warrior in a loincloth (perhaps belying its 1979 origin, there are even distinct Han Solo and Luke Skywalker types). The plot is of pulp-mag quality, which is to say by-the-numbers and chock-full of familiar scenarios. When a dastardly villain captures the muscle-bound hero, what does he do? The only natural thing, of course-- throws him into an arena against a monstrious creature. Yawn. Even the names of the characters and locations will sit uncomfortably with Western readers. They frequently mimic names from Western mythology from Egypt to Scandinavia, and force the reader to associate "Mongaul" with Mongolia, Parros with Paris, Garm with.... Garm. You get the idea. There's even a cringe-inducing character from a savage tribe of monkey-people who worships her human savior-- complete with "funny" attempts by the backwards type to learn the civilized language. Yikes.

In Japanese at least, the language of the books is high-flown. Adjectives are Lovecraftian in their erudition, but repetitive. Dialogue is straight-to-video movie quality.

However, there's still that certain something that's kept me reading the books-- and not just the guilty pleasure of enjoying some literary cheese at bedtime. Kurimoto actually excels at pulling the rug out from under the reader when it comes to major plot developments.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Having read the first through third books in English, I'm completely hooked on this incredible fantasy series. Imaginative and inventive, they're 100% worth your time (not that these books take long to read). The mysteries introduced in this first book carry though the following installations, keeping the story multi-layered as the chararacters continue their journey. Definitely recommend for anyone with the slightest interest in fantasy literature. Would love to see more of the books published in English.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By SAKI on July 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is surely the greatest SF fantasy novel that I came across in my life.
Called the eheroic fantasyfcategory in Japan, this novel is about one's
destiny and how the heroes in the story fight for their own lives and love
one another.@There are 90 novel series/sequels currently published with an
unprecedented plan of publishing 100 within a few years. When the new series
come up, this novel immediately becomes the number one seller for months in
Japan.
I guarantee that you will not be able to put it down once you start reading
one.@You are sure to find more than one character thatfs your favorite
within the story. You will feel the happiness of experiencing the time
transition through this unique world the exact same way many of the Japanese
are already experiencing.
Definitely a must! Pick up the first volume and see what you think.
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