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Ukishima February 21, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Fantasy.
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Ukishima

by Nigel Sellars

Instead of ending his days to the mercies of a wasting disease, Minamoto Ichiro decides to become a Kamikaze fighter pilot in the final legs of World War II. Before he can complete his mission, the Japanese war god Hachiman plucks him from the skies and offers him another chance at life as a Samurai. To save the universe from chaos, Ichiro must go to  a parallel universe where magic exists and save it from the evil daiymo Lord Taira.

This was a wonderful fantasy adventure into the not very often explored realm that is Japan. I enjoyed this book as I’ve always loved samurai books and movies. I grew up on them.

I have only a peripheral knowledge of Japanese culture and I’m no expert, but I did find it hard to believe that two female warriors would be so easily accepted in an all-male society. I also had a hard time believing that a left-handed, club-footed samurai would be so readily accepted as a hero and general. Instead I tried to suspend belief and I tried to enjoy the tale for what it was.

It was a fast-paced plot that didn’t slow down despite paying attention to the niceties of Japanese culture. A culture which can be tedious in its polite form. Sellars managed to pay homage to things like the tea ceremony while still keeping it interesting.

While the characters weren’t what I’d call fully formed or developed, they were still interesting and fascinating. Maybe it was because of the exotic setting.

I was disappointed in the development of the villain though. He came off as a bad actor in a vaudeville. He wasn’t as menacing or as truly evil as I’ve have liked him to be. One-dimensional villains always come off as second-rate. I would have liked to have seen more effort put into Lord Taira.

Ichiro is a good hero. He’s very likable and believable, but the question remains. How does he adjust to life in this new parallel universe? The book skips over that question by fast forwarding in time by two years. Effectively glossing over any adjustments he’s personally had to make in order to adapt.  I would have found it more believable if this topic had been addressed a bit more in depth.

The ending is open for more books in the series. I must admit I’m curious to see how the next one comes out.

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