Year of the Demon: A Novel of the Fated Bladesby Steve Bein
Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro has been promoted to Japan’s elite Narcotics unit—and with this promotion comes a new partner, a new case, and new danger. The underboss of a powerful yakuza crime syndicate has put a price on her head, and he’ll lift the bounty only if she retrieves an ancient iron demon mask that was stolen from him in a daring raid. However, Mariko has no idea of the tumultuous past carried within the mask—or of its deadly link with the famed Inazuma blade she wields.
The secret of this mask originated hundreds of years before Mariko was born, and over time the mask’s power has evolved to bend its owner toward destruction, stopping at nothing to obtain Inazuma steel. Mariko’s fallen sensei knew much of the mask’s hypnotic power and of its mysterious link to a murderous cult. Now Mariko must use his notes to find the mask before the cult can bring Tokyo to its knees—and before the underboss decides her time is up....
“Bein combines the best parts of police procedurals, buddy-cop films, historical fantasy, and intrigue-laden adventure.”—Publishers Weekly
“Year of the Demon makes sure that readers invested in the Fated Blades series will find a new corner to be intrigued by and is a good follow-up to one of my favorite debuts of all time.”—Fantasy Book Critic
Sequel to Bein's exotic law-and-order fantasy, Daughter of the Sword (2012). Tokyo's DS Mariko Oshiro, the lone female on the elite Narcotics unit, has a price on her head thanks to a local yakuza boss known as the Bulldog. Then things get seriously weird. After a successful if routine drug warehouse bust, a man dressed as a SWAT team member steals an ancient iron demon mask from the premises--and the Bulldog declares that he'll lift the bounty if Mariko recovers it. That night, somebody enters her locked apartment and steals the rare Inazuma sword that hangs on the wall above her bed--without waking her and without leaving a trace. The sword has the peculiar property of guaranteeing victory to those who wield it--but only if they don't want to win. The mask grants the ability to seek out Inazuma swords but renders the wearer dangerously obsessive. Somehow, mask and sword are linked, and Mariko delves into the voluminous notebooks of her late sensei, professor Yasuo Yamada, who was not only a swordsman and scholar, but also knew of the magic properties of both items. In two historical excursions, cumulatively larger than the main story, Bein details the association between mask and sword. In the late 16th century, the samurai Daigoro wields what will become Mariko's sword against the mask's wearer, who is clearly insane, while more than 100 years earlier, ninja cultists force young shell-diver Kaida to use the mask's power to retrieve the sword from a deep shipwreck. There's no doubting the authenticity of Bein's creation as he elegantly binds all the elements together, even if the points of attachment are things rather than people. The main flaw is long-windedness, with long sentences preferred over telling phrases. A solid effort but one that badly needs streamlining.
What People are saying about this
“I am utterly addicted to this series! Steve Bein avoids sophomore slump with brilliant ease in this sequel to Daughter of the Sword, and continues to surprise and captivate with exquisite tension and terrific characters in an amazingly well-crafted mystery. I can’t wait for the next one!”—Diana Rowland, author of Touch of the Demon
“Gripping…Bein combines the best parts of police procedurals, buddy-cop films, historical fantasy, and intrigue-laden adventure, enhancing them with painstaking research and attention to atmosphere.”—Publishers Weekly
“There’s no doubting the authenticity of Bein’s creation as he elegantly binds all the elements together.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Bein excels beyond any history lover’s wildest imagination with exceptionally researched, vivid depictions of ancient Japan.”—Romantic Times
“[Bein is] not a one-book wonder. Year of the Demon is a darker story that excoriates its characters much more than was thought possible…A good follow-up to one of my favorite debuts of all time.”—Fantasy Book Critic
“Part thriller, part police procedural, part historical and part urban fantasy, Year of the Demon is simply a book for people who like to read. It has something for everyone and Bein does an amazing job of weaving them all together into a fascinating story.”—All Things Urban Fantasy
Meet the Author
Steve Bein teaches Asian philosophy and Asian history at the State University of New York - Geneseo. He holds a PhD in philosophy, and his graduate work took him to Nanzan University and Obirin University in Japan, where he translated a seminal work in the study of Japanese Buddhism. His short fiction has been published in Asimov's, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and has been anthologized for use in college courses alongside the works of such figures as Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, and H.G. Wells. His Novels of the Fated Blades include Daughter of the Sword, Year of the Demon, and Disciple of the Wind.
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