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 privileged 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.
Gah, I am so torn over how I feel about this book because there were aspects that I loved and things that I found seriously lacking. I feel like this book was just setting up the plot line for the next in the series as we finally get some type of plot near the end and a bit o a cliffhanger but for me the pacing in this book was painful, I couldn't find a solid plot line so I don't really know what things I was supposed to be picking up on. I maybe would have liked this book a lot more if there was actually a plot to follow or it was shorter but for me it was like 500 pages of world building and I ended up gritting my teeth and forcing my way through it because there were some things that I loved.
I absolutely loved the history in this book, I'm no expert on early Japanese history and I'm sure that if I was I'd have been finding wrong bits everywhere but for me it all seemed so real, little things that were thrown in took me back to that time in that country and I really enjoyed that. I also loved the spiritual aspect with the shamans and healers and the spirits, that was developed so well and I loved reading the parts where Friesner wnt into detail about the Shamanism.
The characters were also pretty good, Himiko was independent, sometimes a little too independent but I liked her spark. I also really liked Lady Yama, the shaman, she was such a teacher and inspiration to Himiko and I loved their interactions. I also loved the personalities that were given to Himiko's family, her mother and step-mothers and her father as well as her three brothers, they were fantastic.
I probably will read a sequel to this and I am so torn about what to rate this book because to be honest I should be giving it a low grade but I just loved the world and the characters so much that it kind of counterweights that the pacing was difficult and the plotline was non-existant...
Overall rating: C-
Released 24th April by Random House Children's Books.
Book received as an eGalley for review from NetGalley