Sisters of the Sword: Blade’s Edge
Japan, 1216. In this second Sisters of the Sword adventure, Kimi and Hana, who have been living disguised as boys at a martial arts school, are recognized by their evil uncle Hidehira, and must flee for their lives. With them goes their friend, the master archer Tatsuya. Can they get to the temple at the foot of Mount Fuji where their mother and baby brother are hiding before Hidehira and his Samurai warriors find them?
The plot is simple: lots of fights, gallons of blood, hair’s breadth escapes, danger and betrayal all wrapped up in a high octane story, full of excitement. The girls are now effective killing machines and the body count is high. This is very much the fight of the little people against the might of a usurping dictator intent on taking over, no matter what the cost: think hobbits against the might of Mordor.
Yes, it’s exciting but it’s at the expense of deeper, more personal quests. The girls occasionally talk about how different their lives are now from what they were as the Jito’s well-born daughters, but there is little evidence of their experiences changing them in any meaningful way. Their predominant aims are to ensure the safety of their little brother, now the rightful Jito, and to kill Hidehira. They remain the Jito’s noble daughters whose family is born to rule, no matter how muddy or tired they get. Doubtless this is correct for the period in which it’s set but it gives it a curiously old-fashioned feel in these more egalitarian times.
It’s certainly well-written but I found the characters somewhat clichéd – they are either good or bad. There is little space for more complex characters to develop amid the relentless pace of endless escapes, re-capture and bloodletting.
For 11-14 year-old girls.
- Elizabeth Hawksley
This is the second in the series, and its narrative starts soon after the first book, The Warrior’s Path, ends. The book begins on a low note, with the funeral of a friend, and with mounting tension, Hana and Kimi have to find their remaining family before their uncle, the bad guy, does.
In this book, the characters have to find and solve clues to help them reach their goal. At the beginning there is a good scene, with a battle, an escape, lots of blood, and then the story is a journey. If you like fast, detailed action involving lots of near death situations, this is a good book for you. It is easy and enjoyable to read. The main characters still seem fairly one-dimensional, so occasionally I lost interest in what was happening to them. Finally, there are some good tips about what to do in quicksand.
- Ella McNulty, Age 14