Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Way of the Warrior

2008, Puffin books
332 pages
Childrens' Fantasy Japanese
Library copy

Cushions: 4/5
Daggers: 2/5
Smile: 3/5
Tissues: 2/5
Overall rating 5+/5

The moment I saw the second book in this trilogy up for grabs as a review copy I had to have it. As a Japanese fanatic, I immediately located a copy in the library. I wasn't disappointed.

There was an 'oooh, PIRATES!' moment as I read the back cover. These pirates are the evil kind. Poor Jack Fletcher, having managed to reach Japan on his father's trading ship, loses his family - both by ties of blood and ties of the sea to the ninja pirates (There was a lot of smiling here too! Even if they are evil, ninja pirates is a pretty neat concept). With zero fighting ability, Jack hides in his father's cabin with the rutter, the map which can steer anyone safely across the seas. It's priceless.

He manages to survive and ends up in the home of a famous samurai. This samuri adopts him as his second son (his first son died, and he misses him). This installment follows Jack's story as he slowly learns Japanese, the intricacies of the culture. The mysterious Akiko, who helped nurse him back to health is patient with his mistakes. Not everyone is so patient, and Jack's life isn't quiet. The ninja pirates are out for his blood, the Samurai's second son isn't happy that he's been adopted, and many at the Samurai's samurai school are displeased at a foreigner being in their midst.

I confess that while I am hooked by Jack's story, I'm following Akiko's journey. I mean, a girl who can defeat ninjas with her obe (very wide 'belt' part of a kimono) ranks high on my favourite list of characters. She isn't perfect, none of the characters are, but throughout it all she looks out for Jack.

It really shows that Chris Bradford has a background in martial arts - everything reads smoothly, its the little details about tricks, including just how much training hurts and the sheer joy that follows a successful demonstration after countless sessions of inability. This is action packed, and cleverly written. I liked it when a chapter or section of a chapter ended on a climax; the next chapter/section would start in the middle of a fight or a dramatic scene, but wouldn't necessarily be a direct continuation of the previous one. It might sound a little disjointed, but its a style of writing which keeps the reader on their toes.

Thanks to an ankle injury, I was able to read this story, and the next, one after the other. There would have been much groaning if I'd had to stop for work, or this necessary thing in life called sleep.

It's not just me getting excited about this book, it could be made into a film

Chris Bradford's site is here.

The 2nd installment, The Way of the Sword, will be reviewed tomorrow.

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