Book Review: Spirit's Princess by Esther Friesner

Spirit's Princess by Esther Friesner is the first book in a young adult series. Himiko is the only daughter of the chieftain in third century Japan. She has always been a little different, and very special. On the day of her birth there was an earthquake, and she has continued to defy expectations ever since. Himiko begins by desiring to be a hunter like her beloved brother, but her attempt to prove herself dashes that dream. After a series of adventures Hikimo discovers her true path, and the destiny the village shaman foresaw on the day of her birth. Hikimo's future holds much more than she had ever imagined.

Spirit's Princess is a story that had me enthralled and determined to delve deeper into Japanese myths, which have always fascinated me. I was greatly disappointed to discover just how wrong the book was historically, and in relation to the myth it is supposed to reference. However, if you read the book and do not know any of the history or mythology, you can enjoy the story. I basically set aside the fact that the book was supposed to relate to any history or culture, and just read it like an alternate history or fantasy novel in a created world. Then I could enjoy the story.

Hikimo is a princess, but wants nothing more than to be her own person. She is often selfish or simply foolish, but in ways that are not unexpected or unrealistic. He father is domineering and sometimes demeaning. However, he is also a character that is far deeper than the conflicts that we see surrounding him. I love the fact that we get to look beyond the surface and discover how he became the man we see in the story. Hikimo's brother Aki is well constructed, and the rest of the family is pretty well detailed. Lady Yama is the shaman, and Hikimo's teacher. I think she just might be my favorite character, she speaks the truth and is not afraid to tell people what they do not want to hear it, if it will help them.

Spirit's Princess is a long read, and might discourage younger readers since it does start a little slow. Readers that know the Japanese history and myth that this story is supposed to reference might want to skip this read, or do what I did and ignore that it was supposed to relate to anything and read it as a fantasy or alternate world story. I did enjoy the story, and will read the sequel, however I will be borrowing it from the library rather than buying it. This book would be good for readers age twelve and older that like detailed tales, well-defined characters, and epic quests.
Post a Comment