Nahoko Uehashi is the author of ten books in the Moribito series, which have sold more than a million copies and won many major literary awards in her native Japan. An associate professor at a Japanese university, she has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and studies indigenous peoples in Australia. She lives near Tokyo, Japan.
Gr 5 Up-This fantasy takes place in a land reminiscent of ancient Japan, populated by the indigenous Yakoo people and the immigrant Yogo who now rule. Both peoples tell a story of a child and a water spirit but with much different details. For the Yogo, the child was possessed by a water demon, while for the Yakoo, the water spirit was essential to prevent a horrendous drought. Now, it seems that this spirit has returned and is somehow living in Prince Chagum, and his father feels that he must have his son assassinated to defeat the demon. Chagum's mother prevails upon Balsa, a bodyguard-for-hire, to flee the capital with Chagum. Balsa is wounded after fighting off four of the assassins and seeks shelter with her friend Tanda, a healer. As she begins to train Chagum in life outside the palace, Tanda and his teacher Torogai begin researching Yakoo folklore and employing magic to discover more about this water spirit. In the meantime, the Yogo Star Readers research their records. Only through their combined studies are they able to learn the nature of the true danger and the means to defeat it. Whether from the original or through the translation, there are a few rough spots in the dialogue. Still, this book should appeal to fans of medieval and fantasy manga and of Usagi Yojimbo. The forthcoming manga and anime will also create interest.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.