Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito Series #2)

Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito Series #2)

5.0 4
by Nahoko Uehashi

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In the marvelous sequel to the novel (and Cartoon Network series) MORIBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT, Balsa returns to her native land to fight a corrupt ruler and face her own demons.

Balsa returns to her native Kanbal to clear the name of Jiguro, her dear mentor, who saved her life when she was six years old. But what should be a visit of truth and

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In the marvelous sequel to the novel (and Cartoon Network series) MORIBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT, Balsa returns to her native land to fight a corrupt ruler and face her own demons.

Balsa returns to her native Kanbal to clear the name of Jiguro, her dear mentor, who saved her life when she was six years old. But what should be a visit of truth and reconciliation becomes a fight for her life when she learns that Jiguro had been a member of King Rogsam's personal bodyguard. After Jiguro fled Kanbal with her, Rogsam sent the other bodyguards after them one by one--Jiguro's best friends, whom he had to kill to protect Balsa. Now, with the help of two Kanbalese children, Balsa must unwind the conspiracy surrounding Jiguro and the mystery of the Guardians of the Dark.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Having successfully protected young Prince Chagum in 2008's Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, Balsa, a spear-wielding warrior, ventures to her rocky homeland of Kanbal in this sequel. Once again, Uehashi immerses readers in the culture, traditions, mythology-even diet-of the populace, creating a full, captivating world. Upon her return, Balsa rescues a pair of siblings in the area's caves (home to the mysterious hyohlu, the guardians of the darkness). She is soon marked as a fugitive, but with help she still uncovers a wide-ranging plot involving her deceased mentor and a scheme to attack the underground kingdom of the Mountain King. Uehashi explores themes of family and honesty with rich prose and compelling characters. Powerful and loyal, Balsa is the core draw ("Although her hands were bound and she was held captive, Balsa's eyes were filled with a fierce light, like a fighter ready to enter the ring"), but the cast of secondary characters are well developed and intriguing in their own right. Add to that some intense spear battles and a gripping finale, and this growing series has something for everyone. Ages 10-up. (May)

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Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Nahoko Uehashi rose to literary fame in Japan with the publication, in 1996, of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. The story's success in print, followed by its anime spin-off, was probably due to the fact that Uehashi's fantasy world was based on a mixture of Japanese folklore and the medieval Samurai Code. It also did not hurt that the book's warrior-hero was actually the warrior-heroine, Balsa. Part two of the series brings the now thirty-one-year-old Balsa back to her birth country of Kanbal seeking revenge—or perhaps just closure—on her star-crossed life. To keep younger readers' interest, the teenage brother and sister, Kassa and Gina, have been added to the mix, their story unfolding in tandem with Balsa's. While the dialogue and third-person narration have a rather stilted quality, upon consideration, this actually works to help recreate the ancient and more formal universe of Uehashi's fantasy, and it is a very imaginative world she offers, from the dwarfish Herder People to the proud King's Spears, to the mysteries of the Mountain King and the treasure he guards within Kanbal's ring of caves. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Though a sequel, Moribito II stands on its own as an engrossing story of redemption, with seasoned warrior and bodyguard Balsa back in the center of it all. Seeking to relieve the emotional burden she had been carrying since her foster father died more than 20 years earlier, she returns to her native country of Kanbal. Just a few steps into her homeland, she rescues two children and duels a cave-dwelling mountain spirit. This encounter becomes a catalyst for two worlds to eventually mingle: the human one full of political conspiracy and a reawakened mythological one. Both come alive with the wonderful attention to detail, from descriptions of the geography, food, and social structure to the ceremony where humans come face to face with their gods. Fast-paced action scenes (frenzied but not overly violent) help lessen the weightiness of this epic, where themes like a boy's coming of age, family betrayal, and the consequences of unchecked ambition are also explored. So steeped in anime sensibilities that one could almost imagine commercial breaks between chapters, this series serves as a smooth transition between manga and straight narrative.—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Moribito Series, #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito Series #2) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
This second book of the MORIBITO series follows female bodyguard Balsa as she returns from the land of New Yogo to her ancestral homeland of Kanbal, a land she has not seen since she was a young child. At the age of six, Balsa's father discovered a plot to murder the current king of Kanbal, and as a result, her father was murdered and his best friend fled the country with the young Balsa. This man, Jiguro, was responsible for protecting and raising Balsa from childhood into adulthood, eventually dying of an illness under Balsa's care. Although Balsa only intends to return in order to find personal peace, her entry into Kanbal sets off a series of events destined to plunge Balsa back into the same kinds of plotting that led to her father's death years before. Balso quickly learns that, during her long absence from the land, her mentor Jiguro has been wrongfully accused of great crimes. His younger brother, Yuguro, has become a hero for supposedly killing Jiguro and returning the symbolically important golden spear rings that Jiguro was framed for stealing. The new king is entirely under Yuguro's control. And once again, it's up to Balsa to work her way through the deception and trickery in order to save her homeland before it's too late. GUARDIAN OF THE DARKNESS adds new depth to Balsa's character by allowing the reader to see her in a new setting, one that is both familiar to her and strangely foreign. Her own inner turmoil about the death of Jiguro and the lies that have been spread about him provide the novel with its emotional power. As with the first volume in the series, Uehashi's worldbuilding is stunning. It's obvious that the author knows everything about this world, right down to the different foods people eat and the reasons behind their cultures and traditions. Kanbal is utterly different from New Yogo, a unique place in its own right, with its own legends and elements of the fantastic. Overall, I found this book even more exciting than the first one. The combination of Balsa's outward strength and emotional searching made her a very complex character. I also appreciated the large cast of secondary characters who helped flesh out this world, in particular the young spearman-in-training Kassa, whose subtle development plays out alongside the novel's grand conflict. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who liked the first novel in the series, and even to those who haven't read it!
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