A troubled woman searches out an exiled samurai from the imperial court to teach her the ways of the warrior so she can gain vengeance on the people who destroyed her life. She finds a broken man with no desire for a student or a quest for revenge. Together, they will learn from each other and heal themselves. A great novel of realistic fantasy. A little fast-moving at the end, but still great. This should have been a series instead of just one book.
I have very mixed feelings about Cherryh's novels. I really like her Compact Space series about Chanur. However, I cannot understand how she won the Hugo award for her Cyteen series. For me, that was the worst sci-fi I've ever read. Too much of her writing seems to befuddle and tire my mind, it is so confusing. It almost seems as if she has a dual personality when it comes to writing. I recently started two of her Company Wars books that I had to stop as the entire reading experience was so distasteful.
So I was hesitant about starting this book. And then was very pleasantly surprised. This is not sci-fi at all, but historical fiction, with the plot and characters apparently from early Chinese history.
I started and finished all 383 pages in 24 hours. The story is of a peasant girl who seeks out a legendary warrior who has left the world and become a recluse, she convinces him to train her in the use of weapons, and eventually leads him back to attempt the overthrow of a very corrupt Empire.
Highly recommended for those who love historical fiction.
I'm normally a great fan of C.J.'s but not on this one. I made it thru only because I knew it would get better. Sadly, not even a little. One of the few times I kept wanting the heroine to leave or get killed.
A young girl comes to the home of the former guard of the Emperor. Her people were killed, home and the entire town destroyed. She wanted revenge and him to teach her how to get it. He insisted it was stupid and no way he'd show her how to fight. About 30 pages later, he gives in. She swears she'll honor all his commands. As he breaks one, he says he's thru. She screams at him, you gave your word. This goes on for another 40-60 pages. Really.
She had also been raped when the rest were killed. He knows this but still wants to get closer. Been on a mtn. for 9 years. As you can imagine, she isn't going for it. Along with the rest, this goes on for maybe 140 pages. Then he wants to marry her, she thinks she's not good enough. Yeah, they do go after the bad guy finally.
This would have made a fair, at best, short story. Neither are really very likeable and the plot is so predictable it's sad. I find it hard to believe, well, enough. Thankfully it's not a series.
This book was well written. It had a lot to do with a woman going outside her percieved place in the world.
I picked this up through paperbackswap.com after reading a review over at tor.com. It sounded like my kind of book - a sort of China, martial arts training, etc., etc. After a fashion, it was my kind of book.
The set up is that 9 years ago, a new Emperor ascended the throne. Unfortunately, this Emperor has bad judgement in his companions, at least one of whom knows the intrigue game, very, very well. As a result, Saukendar (Shoka to his friends), the previous Emperor's right hand, sword master, etc., races off to exile beyond the borders of the Empire to live as a hermit. Since then he has refused all intrigues and attempts by others to get him to teach them his mastery of the sword.
Well, the book opens with a would be student seeks him out and forces his hand. From that point on, we get training in a nastily pragmatic school of swordsmanship and tactics. We get a good view of the interior life of Saukendar, which is very, very human - strengths and frailties all. Also along the way, we see a neck or nothing uprising and the culmination of a years long revenge, that was, oddly, anti-climatic. Mainly because Saukendar sees that this is just the beginning...
This could have been a series honestly. But I think Cherryh showed great judgement to stop with the one book. Its a neat one, a good one to read and enjoy. I liked Saukendar/Shota a lot. If only because I see myself mirrored in him - warts and all. I would have liked to see more of the Empire, but you know what? I'm content with what I have.
Another good one, not a keeper, but a good one. Seek it out folks.