Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: June 1, 2008
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Moribito series
Rating: 4/5 stars
“Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river — and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy — the Prince Chagum — on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.”
I had originally watched the Moribito anime and loved it. When I saw this book at the bookstore I was very excited to read it. This was a great book. It’s a wonderful balance of history, magic, action, and coming of age story. I really enjoyed it. This is a book that is great for all ages as well. The whole story is set in a sort of feudal Japan.
I really love that this book features an older female warrior as the main character (Balsa is in her 30’s). Balsa loves fighting and protecting; being thrown into the role of caretaker for a eleven year old boy is a huge change for her. I also love that her love interest is pretty much the opposite of her in every way (bookish, wise, and patient).
This book is very much a coming of age story for Prince Chagum. He learns how to do things himself and experiences the broader world. There are elements of magic in here as well. Prince Chagum is carrying the egg of a water spirit in his chest and must safely see it through to its birth or die.
Politics are touched on as well. We see how history and myth are written by the conquerors and the true history may be lost with the people who were conquered.
The book itself is beautifully put together. The pages are thick and well bound and the illustration and ink color throughout is amazing. This is one of those books that is soo much better in paper format and definitely one you’ll want to keep around.
Overall this was an amazing story and I would love to continue the Moribito series. This book is a wonderful blend of history, fantasy, action, friendship, and coming of age. I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy fantasies set in feudal Japan.