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Blade's Edge (Chronicles of Gensokai Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 314 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I have to say, this book is a success on so many levels. Even readers who may have no immediate interest in Japanese style or culture are well advised to invest their time in its depths. There's a lot of Japanese or pseudo-Japanese terminology throughout, but the author weaves it into the story so seamlessly that after the first couple of times you see a word, you know what it means, and the glossary is almost unnecessary. It has fantastical elements, but is built on the plausible and the realistic, lending it a blended feel that makes it much easier to get invested in.
Like another book I recently read, The Stonegate Sword, this is the type of book where you can tell that the author hasn't just thought about or seen pictures of the setting, but has lived in it at some point. The descriptions of the softly-falling snow gathering on the mountains and the gardens evokes such stark imagery in the mind of the reader, all without any over-description. The author shows the underlying beauty of a land suffering from oppression through these delicate but beautiful descriptions.
The characters are also a strength of Blade's Edge. None of the characters are perfect, and amusingly, most of them are quite insecure, even the heroes. They all have distinct personalities, and each gets enough face time that they don't come across as props or two-dimensional bit part players. Each has their shadowy past, their goals and dreams, and their perceptions of the world and each other, and their lives and their destinies are interwoven well into the plot. And, best of all to me, is the fact that Mishi, one of the main characters, does not simply start killing people with no repercussions. Her reaction to having to kill people reminded me a little of Achilles saying that at night, he sees the faces of all the men he's killed; Mishi is the same way, and is not just an "instant stone-cold killer" like we see in so many books nowadays. On the other hand, she also isn't an angsty whiner who cries about it for page after page; she's pleasantly in the middle.
The elemental abilities of the characters are well-established and well-regulated to prevent anyone, good or bad, from becoming so over-powerful that they can't reasonably be defeated. Despite their abilities, the characters don't become godlike or untouchable, whether hero or villain. What's great about this is that it presents people who, while they possess some limited but extraordinary powers, are just regular people seeking to change their world. This is not "orphan gets told a prophecy says they'll dethrone the dark lord," and that's a big part of what makes this book so enjoyable.
Finally, to the story itself: this is one of those books where the "villains" are of a quite realistic variety. There's no dark lord, no demon lord, no master of ultimate evil; it's the sort of villainy we can identify with because it's something similar to things we see in reality. This gives the reader a greater appreciation for its ordinary heroes rising up to try to accomplish extraordinary things, and to change the world. It is a battle of ideologies more than a black-and-white good-versus-evil, though it can certainly be cast in those shades as well.
* - I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I give this book a 4.75/5. Here is my breakdown.
Characters: 5/5. Absolute perfection. Virginia’s two main characters, Mishi and Taka, were deep and real. I felt their pain and their triumphs, and my understanding of them grew as they did. The book spans eight years (called “cycles”), and I felt they grew believably throughout that time. I especially liked Mishi’s development from scared orphan to kick-ass Kisoshi warrior.
Plot/Storyline: 5/5. The story is as epic as they come. A sprawling conspiracy kept in line by a few oligarchs? Assassins? Intrigue and betrayal? All present in spades. Virginia wove her story deeply and well, and I felt the last few pages blaze by like they almost weren’t there. Fantastically done.
Flow: 4.5/5. The sentence flow was excellent and Virginia’s use of language keeps the story moving at an excellent pace. I felt we spent an appropriate amount of time on each of the characters (as the action cross-cuts between the two of them) and that things didn’t happen too fast or too slow.
My only issues with the flow: There were a few instances that I felt important or interesting action was glossed over to get us to the next development. This happened only a few times, but I did note it. Second, the time passage was done very well in terms of character development, but the chapter headings, being in Japanese (or pseudo-Japanese, I’m not sure) that were supposed to tell us how much time had gone by only confused me, so I had to ignore them.
Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5. I think I counted four grammatical/typographical errors in this novel. For as many pages as it is (286, paperback version), that’s a pretty good rate (less than one error per fifty pages). I’m happy with that. Good job, Virginia!
Overall: 4.75/5. What a ride! The story starts slow, builds up quickly, and finishes with a bang. I’m hoping for a sequel to this. Thank you for the read!
Most recent customer reviews
What an incredible book! Blade’s Edge is such a phenomenal story.Read more
An enchanting story about two orphan girls with supernatural power who were separated and trained...Read more