Dragon Sword and Wind Child

by Noriko Ogiwara

Other authorsCathy Hirano (Translator), Miho Satake (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2008

Publication

Viz Media (2008), Edition: 1, 286 pages

Description

Raised in the ancient Japanese village of Hashiba, fifteen-year-old Saya discovers that she is the reincarnation of the Water Maiden, princess of the underworld, who must try to reconcile the powers of heaven and earth.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jovemako
I loved this book. I wish this author had more books out like this!
LibraryThing member thelibrarina
This book was out of print for so long that I despaired of ever finding a copy of my own. I was delighted to find it back in print at last.

The story is of Saya, a young woman who finds herself in the middle of a war between light and darkness. But this isn't Star Wars, and what is bright and beautiful on the surface may be very different within. Imprisoned by two demigods, and befriended by a third, Saya must accept an unbelievable past in order to survive her uncertain future.

The translation by Cathy Hirano is simply beautiful. The different places in the novel--especially the court of Princess Teruhi and Prince Tsukishiro, and the field of gypsy roses--are depicted with amazing lyricism and detail. For that alone the book would be worth reading, but the intricate plot and intriguing characters make it a must-read for fantasy fans.

The story stands on its own very well, but keep an eye out for the other two books of the Jade Trilogy--an English edition of Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince is slated for publication in May 2011.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Raised by adoptive parents in the quiet village of Hashiba, Saya had almost no memory of the time before she was found, a very young child, starving and alone on the mountainside. Haunted by terrifying dreams of a fire, and a nighttime flight, she had no real notion of who she was, until a company of travelers arrived with an incredible revelation. For Saya, taught to venerate the God of Light, and his earth-bound children - Prince Tsukishiro and Princess Teruhi - was none other than the Water Maiden, a princess of the Children of Darkness, and the one destined to awaken the fabled Dragon Sword. Would she take her place in the struggle to oppose the tyranny of the Palace of Light, to bring balance to the land of Toyoashihara? Or would she, like all the Water Maidens before her, be drawn to her enemy, and destroyed...?

First translated into English in 1993, before going out of print, and then being republished in this lovely new edition in 2005, this Japanese children's fantasy has long been on my list of books to read, so I was delighted when it was chosen as our May selection for The International Book Club to which I belong. I knew that Ogiwara had drawn on traditional Japanese Shinto mythology in the writing of this - the first in a trilogy (of which, alas, only the first title has been translated) - and I was curious to see what she made of it.

Overall, I think Dragon Sword and Wind Child is a success, and while I was not unaware of a few narrative flaws, while reading, would not hesitate to recommend it to those with an interest in epic fantasy, or Japanese folklore. It was a little disconcerting to see how rapidly the book shifted focus, after Chihaya entered the picture, almost abandoning the tale of Saya's journey of self-discovery, in order to focus on the epic quest of the youngest child of the God of Light; but while Saya was sometimes a little too passive a heroine for my taste, I can't deny that I found the story involving, and, at times, moving.

This is the second fantasy novel with a Japanese theme that I have read, where the narrative developments hinge on the notion of balance, and how destructive it can be, when some sort of duality is off kilter. In The Water of Possibility, by Japanese-Canadian author Hiromi Goto, the imbalance is between masculine and feminine power, and here it is between the forces of light and dark (each of which has both its feminine and masculine defenders), but the principle seems to be the same: too much of one or the other can only lead to disaster. Ogiwara's development of this theme, and her world-building, are impressive, as are her fascinating characters. Definitely one fantasy-fans will want to seek out! As for me, I think I need to find a decent translation of the The Kojiki...
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LibraryThing member pwaites
Dragon Sword and Wind Child is a translation of a Japanese fantasy novel that draws on Japanese mythology and Western fantasy tradition.

The forces of the God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness have been at war for generations. For Saya, an orphaned teenage girl living among the people of Light, the war exists somewhere in the background… until she finds out that she is the Water Maiden, a reincarnation of the priestess of the Goddess of Dark. As the Water Maiden, Saya is the only one who can tame the Dragon Sword, a legendary weapon fated to end the war between the deities.

What I liked most about Dragon Sword and Wind Child was how the light and dark was not equivalent to good and evil. The children of the God of Light are immortal and eternal, unchanging. The children of the Goddess of Darkness die and are reborn in a cyclical pattern. Neither is good or evil, but by starting the war the God of Light has been upsetting the balance between them.

“For the first time Saya understood how people can grow accustomed to war. Intensified by the stark contrast between life and death, fleeting moments of joy such as these could make one almost mad with happiness.”

I generally liked the characters, although there were a couple of minor ones I had trouble keeping track of. Chihaya was by far my favorite for how he didn’t know or care for societal customs. It gave him a humorous side that not a lot of the other characters had. As a heroine, I thought Saya seemed rather passive. Don’t be mistaken by the blurb – Saya is not destined to wield or fight with the Dragon Sword.

I was utterly immersed in the world Ogiwara created, which came to vivid life through the quality writing. The prose was simply beautiful, and I have no complaints regarding the translation.

I’m glad I read Dragon Sword and Wind Child, and I’m already planning on tracking down more by this author. If you’re looking for fantasy novel drawing from a non-Western background, this would be one of the first I’d recommend.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.
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Language

Original language

Japanese

Physical description

286 p.; 9 inches

ISBN

1421515016 / 9781421515014
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