Dragon Sword and Wind Child is the story of Saya, a young girl who lives in very ancient Japan, where the kami of Light and his immortal children have imprisoned all of the gods of the earth The prince and princess of Light have waged a very long war against the people of Darkness i.e., all the mortals and their gods so that their father, the God of Light, will return Meanwhile, Saya thinks she s just a normal peasant girl, but it turns out she s the reincarnation of the Princess of Darkness, the eternally reincarnating enemy of the Prince and Princess of Light.Most fascinatingly, it s a Japanese fantasy that was translated into English It s deeply inspired by Japanese mythology, and you can tell the God of Light and Dark are inspired by Izanagi and Izanami, and the three children of Light have parallels to Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi, and Susanoo Although the author herself says that she s inspired by the Japanese gods, but decided to take the concepts behind them in her own, creative direction That said, it s a rough book For all its wonderfully creative setting, it s uncomfortably written, and relies heavily cliches and literary shortcuts.The translation is a barrier This is a literal translation, and it s very stiff It also makes the mistake of translating absolutely everything Japanese Tsuchigumo, for example, is literally translated as ground spider I m sure this was intentional this was written way before Japanese things were super crazy popular in the west but it hurts the book This and many other terms sound silly in English, when the Japanese words have much deeper, much nuanced, meanings.But the translation isn t the book s fault The pacing, unfortunately, is And that s the biggest problem with this novel The plot isn t moved on because of increasing tension or mounting stakes, but because of a wall of Constant Exposition Did we just meet a new character A little old lady is going to pop up to explain who they are, what their powers are, and what they re destined to do Did we end up in a new place Someone s going to march up and tell you what s happening, what they re doing, and why.Consequentially, you hardly ever know where you re going Saya is a leaf in the wind, getting yanked around by the novel She almost never does something because she wants to Things just happen to her Someone s always on hand to explain why this matters, and what she s going to do next.The characterization is weak Saya is passive and spends the entire story in danger She s always being attacked, kidnapped, captured, and hurt She s got a legion of super priestess powers that she never uses, and she bumbles and fails all the way through the end of the novel Chihaya is fascinating, but also not human No one else is fleshed out at all.That said, there are some interesting ideas in here, though it helps if you re familiar with Japanese mythology Dragon Sword and Wind Child does do an amazing job of describing the children of the God of Light, for example They can t die, always regenerate, and live forever The book explains how hard it is for them live on the earth which they consider impure, since everything on it dies and is reborn and how they re socially very different because, as unchanging immortals, they can t understand compassion, or empathy, or forgiveness That s wonderful And, of course, it s a wonderfully authentic Japanese experience from a Japanese author and that s rare, rare, rare in the west.In the end, 2 stars might be a little harsh maybe it d be kinder to give it 2.5 but I really couldn t give it For all of its wonderfully interesting setting, concept, and world, it s just too clunky to enjoy. Noriko Ogiwara grew up reading Western Fantasy books such as Narnia While she loved those, she also kept dreaming of a fantasy set in Asia In the end, she simply went ahead and wrote one herself Dragon Sword and Wind Child is the first book in her Magatama series, but it is also a stand alone novel that can be read on its own.Saya, a slightly tomboyish girl from a tiny village, would be living a perfectly normal life, if it weren t for the intense nightmares that keep reminding her of her dark past as a war orphan A religious war, or it could be called a crusade, waged by the army of the God of Light against the people who refuse to worship him, derogatorily called Ground Spiders Up until now, all that has meant very little to Saya herself, but then she meets the demons from her dream and is about to play an important role in this century long conflict.The world of Dragon Sword and Wind Child is inspired by Japanese mythology, the Record of Ancient Matters Kojiki in general, and it is especially reminiscent of the myth of Izanagi and Izanami or also has characters loosely based on the shinto gods Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi and Susanoo However, the author has still created a world very much her own, which you can consider as a fantasy version of Japan, but also simply as a fantasy asian inspired setting I certainly didn t catch all the references even though the book does feature a very interesting afterword and glossary and apart from the names the Japanese influence on the story might not even be all that apparent for general readers.The writing isn t exactly polished, but nice enough Quite a few lines I genuinely enjoyed and for a debut work imho it is definitely a fine effort The translation is very well done A sentence here and there could probably have been turned into slightly natural sounding English, but that s a minor issue.The book does have its weaknesses It is quite short, yet a lot happens in the story and some parts were maybe handled a bit too fast F.ex I found Saya s extreme depression to progress too rapidly and I didn t really get the feeling that a whole month had passed The recovery also happened very fast, but that one got explained and did make sense, so I didn t mind so much Still, sometimes Saya has some kind of flash of genius und just understands something completely, which enables the story to progress The whole reincarnation thing kind of explains it, but it still felt a bit too easy for me I also felt that the foreshadowing wasn t done particularly well and the ending had some parts that went just a bit too nicely.At the same time the book does manage to have depth and complexity Dragon Sword and Wind Child deals with how religion and culture change over time, how one people will influence another, how one religion or culture will assimilate and modify other already existing customs The issues of light vs darkness, life vs death, nature vs civilization and, at the end of all, coexistence and tolerance play a major part in the story and convey a nice, if idealistic, message.Saya is a fine heroine, who gets her fair share of character development She questions herself and things around her, makes mistakes, but also learns from them She s not your usual YA bratty main character Torihiko and Chihaya are also very like able characters and the interactions between Teruhi and Tsukishiro were well written and both act as individuals I appreciated f.ex that Saya realizes that the love she feels for the prince is based for a fair part on physical attraction There is also no instant love, quite the contrary and no teenie drama Actually this book could be counted as one of the first YA paranormal romance novels I read And if the publisher would just market it as such, it surely could be getting a few sales With reincarnation, gods and doomed love, there is absolutely no reason this should be any less successful than f.ex Starcrossed.To sum it up, Dragon Sword and Wind Child can be enjoyed simply for its fantasy story, which is exotic and fresh, but also for the different issues it tackles that are very real and exist in our world just as much as in this imaginary setting If you are a fantasy reader, who is at all interested in Asia or Japan in particular, this book is a must read For others it is worth reading at least once, if you d like something different from the general YA fantasy books available in the West. In The Land Of Toyoashihara, The Forces Of The God Of Light And The Goddess Of Darkness Have Waged War For Generations But For Year Old Saya, The War Is Far Away And Unimportant Until The Day She Discovers She Is The Reincarnation Of The Water Maiden And A Princess Of The Children Of The Dark Raised To Love The Light And Detest The Dark, Saya Must Come To Terms With Her Heritage Even As She Is Tumbled Into The Very Heart Of The Conflict That Is Destroying Her Country Both The Army Of The Light And Dark Seek To Claim Her, For She Is The Only Mortal Who Can Awaken The Legendary Dragon Sword, The Weapon Destined To End The War Can Saya Make The Dreadful Choice Between The Light And Dark, Or Is She Doomed Like All The Water Maidens Who Have Come Before Her One of the best Japanese Creation Myths retelling I ve ever read in my life, and it s a YA People, read up What I remember about the story we follows the heroine Saya, a daughter of the clan of Darkness, who is also a reincarnation of a series of Water Maidens before her She is summoned to the Capital to serve the Moon God, son of the God of Light Saya falls for the handsome, kind Moon God almost instantly However, soon Saya finds herself caught between the conflict between the Moon God and his fierce, beautiful older sister the Sun God a.k.a ruler of the Land and there are deeper secrets hidden between the godly siblings.The God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness in this story are obviously the creation Gods, Izanami and Izanaki, from the Japanese Creation Myths, but the author offers a lot of her own brand of twists and turns for this touching, imaginative fantasy novel Last but not least, I just absolutely love the ending This book is surely a Japanese YA novel which definitely needs an anime adaptation See this review and at Whitley ReadsI recently found out that the second book in this series has been translated to English, so of course I had to do a reread of this one For what, the fourth time Fifth Who cares I m sure I ll do.This one of my favorite books from my childhood, so one of those stars is probably from nostalgia.That being said, the book probably won t appeal to everyone It s a very dense, plot heavy book with little in the way of in depth character development Which is not to say that the characters aren t fascinating they are But the whole story reads like a fairy tale, so the characters are kind of distant, like someone who looks like they d be fun to hang out with but you don t get a chance to.And I still don t care, because I ll take fascinating but distant characters over crappy ones any day All the characters are great, but Chihaya and Torihiko really steal the show Chihaya is probably one of the best characters I ve ever read about, as he s an immortal god who s been shut away from the world and only in the course of this book meets other people Watching him come to terms with the world at large, watching him learn about mortality and empathy, is marvelous The book manages to display him as otherworldly and different, but never makes him into an ass for his lack to other people And Torihiko is just cheeky I love him for being able to be irreverent without being a jerk, like the slew of witty, sarcastic characters we see in books today Saya and her bursts of anger fall under that same heading, too She s got a temper on her, but she s so frikkin polite about it, always feeling bad afterwards and only blowing up when it s legitimately called for She s flawed and human while still being nice, not someone carrying around a chip on her shoulder.But the best part of this book is the themes and concepts that are explored and turned on their heads Saya is drawn to the immortal Prince of Light in a situation that could easily fall into bad romance territory, and instead that obsession is treated as just that an obsession, one to be explored The balance between Light and Dark and calling them both good and evil in equal measure is, while not new, still wonderfully woven into the story Too often that theme is brought in and only given lip service, rather than the consideration it deserves.This book will always have a special place for me, and I would highly recommend it to fans of high fantasy It s a cerebral read than an emotional one, but if that s your boat, you won t be disappointed here. This was a rare impulse buy for me since I d never heard of this book until I came across it at the bookstore I was very glad I read it It s a translation of a Japanese fantasy book written in the tradition of the common British and American fantasies based on Celtic mythology, only using Japanese mythology from the Kojiki as the basis for the story I loved the fantasy elements and am definitely planning to pick up the second book in the Tales of the Magatama, which has also been translated into English Full Review This was a different book than I expected It has similarities to the current fashion for YA romantic adventure fantasy the female main character getting a boyfriend who is a vampire werewolf angel demon dragon god whatevertheywillthinkofnext in a very different tone mythologic and setting, a prehistoric type of fantasy Japan I head this compared to The Lord of the Rings, or Narnia, or many other things, but I would only compare it to one of the longish chapters in the Silmarillion, but Japanese and romantic YA style.The setting and different type of writing, different type of character psychology are truly very interesting The writing is plainer, simpler and direct than I expected, which contributes to it being a fast read There are many hints in the translation of its original richness in echoes in the original Japanese As it was, I feel I got an idea of the original but the language was not always perfectly on tone with my expectations of pre historical society with many characters which are gods, either too idiomatic i ve had it with you , the sun goddess to her moon twin brother or words just sounding too modern enviromnent But translating is a thankless task, and I am very happy to have read this translation. Check out my book blog for book reviews and other bookish posts I m so happy that I read Dragon Sword and Wind Child and would never have done so if it hadn t been for Asian Lit Bingo The prompt was to find a book that had been translated into English, and I decided that I wanted to read a fantasy book Dragon Sword and Wind Child is a Japanese mythology inspired fantasy story that had been written in Japanese One of my favourite fantasy book themes are dark vs light, so this immediately spoke to me I was also very intrigued by the Water Maiden aspect.It s ownvoices.Saya is just 15 years old when she ends up having to deal with a lot than she bargained for, thus she doesn t always act responsibly I thought that the author did a great job in capturing the mindset of a teenager.I think this is one of the books that will be even beautiful after a reread because there are so many small details that one might have overflown during the first read At least, that is what I assume, and this book is for sure going on my reread pile.The romance is very sweet in this novel, and I especially liked how slow moving it was and that a strong friendship and trust was established before the couple itself was established It s very romantic to read about.If I could ever have a superpower, I would choose to be able to transform into other living beings There s one sequence in this book that describes one of the character s feelings and experiences, when they turn into a mouse and it is awesome This is one of the most creative subjects that I think a writer can write about, because it demands a lot of creativity to imagine how a different living being experiences the world we live in and how it is different and similar to how a human being experiences the world.One beautiful passage in this book that I recommend taking time to read is the passage where the idea of an apology is explained Words are very important to me personally, so this was especially lovely for me to read Another passage that I loved is where one of the characters takes another to show them a field of flowers, instead of picking the flowers and giving the character a bouquet I don t like bouquets because the flowers end up dying, so I thought that this was so sweet The title is very intriguing, as in retrospect it gives you a taste for what the book will be about, however, I didn t pay much attention to it until after reading the book.One criticism that I have is that we don t find out much about her past life, especially her relationship with the Moon God Her past relationship was a focal point of the story, however, we never got to know what exactly had happened so many years ago.Dragon Sword and Wind Child is a very intriguing and detailed fantasy novel I recommend it to all of you.This book certainly showed me that I shouldn t be just focussed on upcoming and hyped books which are usually written in English , but also take some time to look for books that have been translated from other languages There is such a vast library of books that is out there and just waiting to be unlocked, but sadly we don t always have the correct language key for the library.Trigger warnings suicide. If I were to choose one thing I liked best about this book, I would probably choose the way that Ogiwara takes a bucket of fantasy tropes magical swords, Chosen One types, Light and Darkness, etc and dumps it upside down At first glance it seems like a rather clich story, but read it and you will discover something strikingly original and beautiful.Or I might choose the fact that this book struck me in the same way Ratha s Creature did Original, interesting, a roller coaster of action without a visible path I read something and thought Oh This will happen Of course, this did not happen Which was amazing.The book starts out a bit slow, and the dialogue seems a bit forced But once the plot picks up, everything else soars up into an amazingly colorful, intricate pattern that isn t really a pattern at all The writing not just the translator s writing is vivid, filled with strong imagery and emotion, and the characters are all very strong and unique I truly enjoyed this book and hope that the sequels are published, and soon. It took me a while to get into this book, but it wasn t the story s fault, I think it was the translation It felt very cold and didn t draw me into the amazing story that was unfolding right underneath the completely passionless words But once I got used to that, the story was incredible While reading it I kept wondering if it was based on actual Japanese mythology It had a real pagan, Greek or Celtic kind of saga feel to it, but Japanese instead The afterword told me this was exactly what Ogiwara was trying to do She said she s always had a love for the British style fantasy that draws its inspiration from Celtic myths and wanted to do the same but from a Japanese point of view I think my favourite thing about this was how different the story was the from usual British fantasy though Having a new mythology to draw her story from really made this book stand out The way it all centers around balance and the cyclical nature of life is fascinating This was the most packed story I ve read in a long time It was really like three 100 page books in one I don t know how he put so much story into such a tiny book I can t wait for book two, which is finally being published in English later this year.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the 空色勾玉 book, this is one of the most wanted Noriko Ogiwara author readers around the world.
- 286 pages
- Noriko Ogiwara
- 06 July 2019 Noriko Ogiwara