Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spirit's Princess

Spirit's Princess by Esther Friesner

Amazon summary to get my bearings, because that isn't getting old. "Himiko the beloved daughter of a chieftain in third century Japan has always been special. The day she was born there was a devastating earthquake, and the tribe's shamaness had an amazing vision revealing the young girl's future—one day this privledged child will be the spiritual and tribal leader over all of the tribes. Book One revolves around the events of Himiko's early teen years—her shaman lessons, friendships, contact with other tribes, and journey to save her family after a series of tragic events. Once again, Esther Friesner masterfully weaves together history, myth, and mysticism in a tale of a princess whose path is far from traditional." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

When I picked this up, I didn't know it was book one, but knowing that now really helps with some questions I have. If there are more books, than they will most likely be answered in the following books. I can live with that. Maybe. probably.

So Spirit's Princess follows the story of Lady Himiko growing up. I was a little daunted by the book at first as I usually don't like to read books that involve a very young child's life (essentially ages 10 and below), but this book moved at a good pace, seemed to capture the perspective of each age, and didn't dwell on unimportant details. I also found it to be believable historical fiction. There were a few moments where it seemed to go in crazy directions, but I assume this will be addressed in later books.

I don't know anything about the Lady Himiko myth. Nothing. Not one bit. This was completely new to me.

However, I enjoyed reading this book while I was reading it; it was a great coming of age story and stepping into your own life out of our parent's shadow kind of story.

Yet, I don't find there's much I can say about it.

Yeah, she grew up. We got to see the lessons she learned, and sometimes it seemed to be portrayed in aggressively simple ways to ensure that the point is made. I didn't mind though.


This was simply an enjoyable read as it depicted the strained relationship between father and daughter as her father is the chieftain of their pine tree clan (Matsu) and she had a will to be a shaman. However, the questions I still have that linger are mostly in concern to her being a shaman.

Yama tells the story of how Himiko was twice born; from her second birth of the earth she was found carrying a stone. The stone's description makes me want to think it's made of gold, but it doesn't seem likely with how entranced she is with it.

There's also a lot of use of mirrors in the shaman's rituals. Yama speaks of a mirror land, but the deer clan's shaman speaks of how a mirror she gifted to Himiko was actually made in her clan. It could be me misreading it, but why would the pine tree clan have to go to implied great lengths to get mirrors if mirrors can be made?

A very trippy scene happens at the end where Himiko enters the spirit realm for twelve days and everyone believes she is ill but Himiko is convinced that she had a journey and that she must bring the clans of the mountains together. On her spirit journey she meets a man who she LOVES. She never knew him before that encounter, but she loves him immediately. Um, what? I would have been much more content with the story if it didn't have an instant love happen. If the romance slowly happened, okay. But to be like, "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, we're in the spirit world, SO LOVE MEEEEE". Maybe it'll be explained in later books, but I somehow doubt that.

Overall, I'm glad I read the book, but I'm unlikely to pick it up again. It was another journey into historical fiction for me, and I don't think it was wasted.

Happy reading!

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