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The Art of Arrow Cutting [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Dedman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It started simple enough. A tempting woman with a trifle of a problem needed a bus ticket. Luckily, sometime photographer Michelangelo "Mage" Magistrale is there to help her out. In exchange for his kindness, she gives him the key to her apartment. However this key is about to unlock an adventure of a different kind. It is no ordinary key; it unlocks any door and leads those who seek it out of greed directly to Mage. The thought of power like that can drive mortals to extremes but the mortal world quickly becomes the least of Mage's problems. On the run and under constant attack by ninja assassins, Yakuza thugs, and the most fearsome and loathsome otherworldly creations Japanese mythology can muster, Mage's only hope is to conquer the key and its power. He must master the art of arrow cutting in order to unleash his own magical power before the forces of darkness force him into oblivion. In a place where all the doors lead to fantasy, mythology and a terrifying reality, where do you run?

Editorial Reviews Review

Agreeable but aimless, Michelangelo Magistrale has a photographer's eye for form and detail and a knack with women. It hardly seems out of the ordinary when penniless Amanda Sharmon asks him for bus fare and gives him a room key in return. After Amanda catches a bus west, Magistrale becomes the focus of incomprehensible attacks and nightmarish supernatural manifestations. Luckily, he happens to bunk with sometime-stuntman-ninja Charles Takumo at a youth hostel, and Magistrale's weird experiences engage Takumo's interest. What is the key really for? Where is Amanda Sharmon? Why was she so skittish and sad? Who is behind the attacks, and what is their purpose? Egged on by Takumo and pressured by his unknown and ubiquitous pursuers, Magistrale applies himself to figuring out how he, the strange key, and Amanda are connected.

Stephen Dedman's first novel is one long, suspenseful chase scene. It's reminiscent of Tim Powers's work, but without Powers's sprawl. Dedman's characters are suitably charming (or menacing), and the mythic and contemporary Japanese details are entertainingly skewed in fantastical Hong Kong cinema style: everything is just a little exaggerated, just larger than life. The structure is filmlike, too--tightly paced and without unnecessary digressions. Plan to put your feet up and read this book all in one sitting!

From Library Journal

Always set in the present, Dedman's short sf lays the groundwork for his first novel, a realistic fantasy pitting itinerant photographer Michelangelo Mageo Magistrale (Mage) against a reclusive wealthy and powerful Japanese American businessman with ancient magical powers. To clear himself of a murder charge, Mage searches for the real killer while learning to use and control the magic. Dedman skillfully blends realism, Japanese magic, organized crime, mystery, and memorable characters, heightening belief that the magical acts could actually happen. Recommended for fantasy collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 544 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (April 1, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J90BVG4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,774 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japanese mythology today October 24, 2003
Mage (Michelangelo Magistrale) is a photographer by trade and a rootless drifter by nature. When he runs into Amanda Sharmon at a Greyhound bus station in the backwoods of Canada he doesn't realise that by helping a stranger in need he is about to change his own life - and get an introduction to the strange world of Japanese mythology.
I wouldn't call this a mystery novel, though it does have elements of that. Its more like a modern urban fantasy. Its easy to read and the main characters are likeable, though you can get mixed up at times with all the unusual Japanese names which keep on cropping up.
If you like light fantasy and Japanese mythology then this is a book worth reading and I'm happy to read the sequel SHADOWS BITE and see if it is as enjoyable and light as the first book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yakuza and yadomejutsu = superb entertainment June 29, 1997
By A Customer
The title of this book can be somewhat misleading for anyone not familiar with Japanese and the martial arts. The subtitle of "A Novel of Magical Noir Suspense" helps, but doesn't even begin to give the multitextured flavor of this unique blend of fantasy, suspense, creatures from the Japanese underworld and just plain good story telling.
Superior writing, excellent imagery and a fascinating, surrealistic feel. And there is even a glossary in the back to help you with the Japanese and ninja terminoligy which give a real punch to the mix. Highly recommended
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, I'd buy fifty more just like it! November 8, 2001
My taste is clearly not the same as your average reviewer's, because I loved this book. What did I like about it? For me, the big selling point was the characters. These are cool people. Magistrale and Takumo are people I enjoyed hanging out with in my head. Plus, I think that Dedman really has a light (and I mean light, not "shallow,") touch with dialogue, which made this novel a blast to read.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for a rip-roaring tale of adventure and magic. If you are, too, you'll love this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A winning blend of crime and fantasy novel October 1, 2007
This tale begins at a Greyhound station in the small Canadian town of Totem Rock. Waiting for a friend, Michelangelo "Mage" Magistrale, photographer by profession and drifter by nature, is approached by a beautiful woman. Introducing herself as Amanda Sharmon, she abruptly asks him for twenty-seven dollars to buy a ticket to Calgary. Mage, sympathetic to her plight, lends her the money. In return, she gives him the key to her apartment, which hangs on a lanyard of braided human hair. He accepts her offer to use her flat while she is gone and pockets the key.

While running errands the next day, Mage realizes he is near Amanda's apartment and decides to drop in. Leaving, he is accosted by an armed man who questions him as to Amanda's whereabouts. Not getting the answers he wants, the hood pulls his gun on Mage only to have it misfire. Mage brains the thug with his camera case, and flees. Seeking to warn Amanda of the danger, Mage hops the next bus for Calgary.

Mage doesn't know it, but he is embarking on a grand adventure. Amanda has stolen a talisman from powerful businessman/gangster/sorcerer Tamenaga Tetsuo, who will use any means to get it back. Failing with human agents, he sends various bakemono, or goblins, to retrieve it. Mage, now in possession of the talisman, battles these demons with the help of new ally Charlie Takumo, Hollywood stuntman and expert in Japanese mythology. Together, they ward off monsters, ninja, hitmen and the police in their search to understand the power of the talisman.

The Art of Arrow Cutting is slick and flashy.
Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine story and one I'll keep. January 23, 2001
This story is up there with Bone Yard, Inhuman Beings, and The Anubis Gates. I loved the quick short staccato of action, the cool Japanese mythology and the noirish feel. Well and heartily recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Never heard of Dedman before but I fancied his title and the book turned out to be really well done. Very gritty urban fantasy, like maybe Charles de Lint might write if he was really angry. Well done. I will buy more of Dedman as it appears.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Magic April 2, 2008
"The Art of Arrow Cutting" by Stephen Dedman, © 1997

This story has a Japanese flavor. It begins with tattoos coming to life, and all of a sudden you realize that all is not normal. This is a book of magic, wonders of life that ordinary people never see. It is a very interesting story. Mage (appropriate name, given the tone is magical) finds himself visiting with a pretty girl at a bus station. She gives him her apartment key, so he can turn it in for her. She is leaving and not coming back. And the adventure begins.
Mage meets a fellow at the hostel he stays at in Calgary, who knows from his youth in Japan, more about what is going on. This is a very good story of cross-cultural experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Australian SF Reader July 31, 2007
If you want a slightly more recent referent to this character, perhaps consider him a cross between Harry Dresden and John Ross, the Knight of the World.

When a girl that is more broke than he is asks Mage for help, he gets involved with the yakuza, Japanese monsters and wizards, and becomes a magic man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn with lots of the unexpected.
The story starts slowly with our hero wandering from town to town. When he befriends a "lost" lady, things get interesting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Wayne B Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful surprise
This book popped up as featured monthly offering and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. I have loved Japanese films and novels since childhood, especially the ones with... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Iris
2.0 out of 5 stars Really? REALLY? OH COME ON!
The story had so much potential. But early on it became rather ridiculous. I forced myself into reading on like a good trooper hoping the storyline at least would read like it was... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Captain Iguana
5.0 out of 5 stars What an awesome story!
Mage is a drifter with a kind heart and lots of talent. And unbeknownst to him, he's about to be drawn into a world of magic and gods and bad guys and damsels, both in distress not... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rebecca L. Murray
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it
Cool Japanese mythology. Interesting read.
Published 8 months ago by Delores
3.0 out of 5 stars Artless Arrow Cutting
"The Art of Arrow Cutting" is a clumsy novel with a clever premise written by a writer who thinks he's cleverer than he is. Read more
Published on June 22, 2001 by Patrick Burnett
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept, but shallow
I very much liked the concept, but it was a light -- as in lightweight -- read. It's not really noir: The good guys are nearly spotless, the bad guys black as pitch, and the... Read more
Published on May 6, 2001 by BHGobuchul
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More About the Author

Where to begin? I grew up (though many would dispute this) on the outer limits of Perth's metropolitan area, far enough from a good library that I had to make up my own sf and horror stories. I continued to do this when I should have been studying, and after false starts at two other universities, received a B.A. in Creative Writing and Film in 1984. Since then, I've held too many boring jobs and a few interesting ones, including actor, tutor, experimental subject, editorial assistant for Australian Physicist magazine, education officer and used dinosaur salesman for the WA Museum, and the manager and co-owner of a science fiction bookshop. I've been writing for fun for more than forty years, and for money for more than thirty; I sold my first short story in 1977, and my first novel in 1995.I returned to post-graduate studies, received a PhD in Creative Writing in 2008, and have been teaching writing to undergraduates since 2003.

My novels are THE ART OF ARROW CUTTING (Tor, 1997), FOREIGN BODIES (Tor, 1999), SHADOWS BITE (Tor, 2001) and SHADOWRUN: A FISTFUL OF DATA (ROC, 2007); I've also written a non-fiction book BONE HUNTERS: ON THE TRAIL OF THE DINOSAURS (Omnibus, 1998). 13 of my best short stories are collected THE LADY OF SITUATIONS (Ticonderoga Publications, 1999), and my best horror fiction in NEVER SEEN BY WAKING EYES (Prime, 2005). An up-to-date bibliography can be found at

I still live in Western Australia, and enjoy reading, travel, movies, complicated relationships, talking to cats, and startling people.

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