Can one girl win a war?
"Tight, exciting, and thoughtful!" -- Kirkus
Kano Murasaki, you may not realize it, but I have done you a great favor. I have it in my power to give you a gift that you don't even realize you desire. Make yourself worth my trouble, and you will be glad of it. Disappoint me, and you will be very, very sorry.
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Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems
Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.
Seasons of the Sword
Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel), is a young fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome.
Or could she?
Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers
|Publisher:||Stillpoint Digital Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
His teen historical novel Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale, set in sixteenth century Japan was released in June, 2016. He is currently working on the sequel, Bright Eyes.
He serves as publisher for Stillpoint Digital Press. Since 1999, he has overseen the publications program of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, for which he has edited three posthumous volumes of Campbell's previously unpublished work (Pathways to Bliss, Myths of Light and Sake & Satori) and managed the publication of over fifty print, ebook, print, audio, and video titles, including the third edition of the seminal The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Currently, David serves as vice-president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.
Table of ContentsPrologue-Serenity
1-The Left-Hand Path
2-Into the Circle
4-The Edge of the World
5-The Mount Fuji Inn
6-Tea and Cakes
11-The Full Moon
14 -Squirrel on the Roof
15-The Music Lesson
19-In the Web
21-Lessons in Dance
23-Poppies in Winter
26-Climbing the Walls
30-Battle of White & Scarlet
31-Taking Up the Blade
33-Smoke and Stone
Epilogue-On the Ground
Sneak Preview: Bright-Eyes
From Serenity to the Full Moon
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Benjamin Ookami for Readers' Favorite In David Kudler's Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale (Seasons of the Sword #1), which is set in Japan in the late 1500s, three orphan children and a girl who learns that her mother has sold her to a woman that she barely knows, are being transported to a school (the Full Moon) that teaches young girls to become "kunoichi". Risuko (Squirrel) has no idea what a kunoichi is. While still not even an initiate at the Full Moon, Risuko learns that the woman who took her away from her home and who runs the school wants her to become something that goes against all of her father's wishes. Meanwhile, a fox-spirit is lurking about, looking for something and getting more dangerous when it can't seem to find whatever it is looking for. As a protagonist, I absolutely loved Risuko, whose real name is Kano Murasaki. She has a knack for climbing anything, apparently no matter how high it is, without any amount of fear. Lady Chiyonne, who had shown up in Risuko's life one day to inform her that she has been sold, plays her role well as the heartless and highly respected woman who runs the Full Moon. Lieutenant Masugu of the Takeda army is there in the heat of battle when he needs to be, and is a major crush of not just Risuko, but of a white-haired girl named Fuyudori. The true identity of the fox-spirit is something that readers will find themselves scratching their heads about. I simply cannot get this book out of my mind. I have to read that sequel.
I would like to thank Stillpoint Digital Press & NetGalley for a copy of this e-ARC to review. Though I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review. Goodreads Teaser: "Can one girl win a war? My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel. I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there. My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman. All I want to do is climb. My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel. Risuko. Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems. Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is. Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?" Absolutely engrossing, this story grabbed me from the very start. Replete with vivid details, gorgeous descriptions, and rich emotions, this is the beginning of what looks to be a tale well worth the telling. Risuko is an exceptional character, with a rich inner life, and all the challenges you'd expect, plus more, in her daily life. Swept away from her family and all she's ever known, thrust into unusual and difficult situations on a regular basis, still she holds her personal integrity and sense of self - even when she isn't at all sure who she really is. Learning about Risuko's new life with her is a rewarding experience, and I'm already anxious for the next part of her story. But Risuko isn't the only character in this story, and the others are just as well crafted. While I didn't learn as much about all the other players on the board, they were smoothly positioned and each had at least one hook that pulled me toward them, increasing my desire to know about them as well. It seems fairly clear that many of these characters will play much more prominent roles as this tale unfolds, and I, for one, greatly anticipate discovering who will become powerful players, and who will fade away. Mr. Kudler has envisioned and created an intensely interesting world, a world in which he managed to put me into Risuko's shoes while still allowing me to see the larger picture that is not yet visible to her. That is an exceptional feat, and one which I am grateful to have experienced. Having Risuko's inner turmoil mirror the external turmoil taking place in Japan is a blessing for the reader. Thus far the arc of the story has been perfectly matched to both the development of the characters and the placement of the action. He has managed to propel Risuko forward into a world that both intrigues and repels me. That takes skill, and a deft touch. Both of which are very visible in this book. Now, where's the next part of the story already?
I didn’t know what to expect when I started this novel but I found it captivating as Risuko discovers the fight within her. There are many things to like about this story; one thing is I liked the way that as the characters are deciphering the questions as they move around in the story, we also as readers are finding the answers with them. I like solving these inquiries as I feel it brings more emotions into the story and I feel more connected to the characters. I liked the innocence of Risuko, she was chosen by Lady but her actions and temperament did not make her stand out. I liked the tone of this novel; there was something about the way it read. I enjoyed it for its entertainment value and for the story that it provided. I felt for Risuko as she was sold by her mother to Lady Chiyome and for what reason, Risuko did not know. I was torn when Risuko left her mother and learned that she would never see her again. Risuko is treated nicely in her new surroundings and she told that she is going to school to be trained along with other girls. There is war in Japan as multiple warlords are fighting to control the country. The girls are being trained in multiple areas. I enjoyed reading about the training that these girls endured. Although they thought they could not tolerate another day, the sun rose and set and they conquered the task that was set before them. They worked as a team some days yet individually they were preparing themselves to become strong women. Risuko never knew when she might need to call upon the strength that she had mastered; she now has the power to conquer should she need it. I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Stillpoint Digital Press in exchange for an honest review.
Kano Murasaki is called “Squirrel” (Risuko) by family and friends. Obviously, she has received this name because she loves to climb houses and trees with a nimbleness and quickness few others possess. She knows Japan has been torn apart by civil war in the year 1570; Risuko knows that her father was a famous samurai warrior who was told to complete a mission but refused and so is no longer a samurai. However, he has taught Risuko the “dance” of sword play which she never realizes will later save lives around her. For now, Risuko is devastated to find she has been “sold” by her mother to Lady Chiyome to become a Kunoichi which Risuko will not be able to translate or understand for quite a while (although she is bright enough to figure it out earlier than the other characters thought possible). After a very cold and difficult journey, Risuko arrives with other females and little by little learns their stories. She has not realized how important her father was until now, and she begins to display the skills others deem as exceptional but which are normal to her. Risuko is given mundane tasks in the kitchen but also begins training in sword, music, cooking, and other skills. While Risuko makes quick friends with some of the girls, others seem bent on being perpetual enemies. However, Risuko doesn’t realize that she’s not the one targeted to be killed and certainly doesn’t know why someone (called a “ghost” or “spirit fox” in ancient Japanese tales) wants to kill them all. She will be called upon to be the one called upon to do more than she realized she could do. The story is also replete with information about Japanese dress and mixed (Japanese and Korean) food that makes for enjoyable reading. Read this delightful story with the gorgeous cover and enjoy the adventure, wisdom and light spirit threading its fascinating pages. Delightfully told and crafted!
I love the period detail and the characters were a lot of fun.
This is an interesting adventure/mystery and I loved it! Risuko's struggle to come to terms with the demands of her new life is a tangle of emotions, duty, and honor and you can't help rooting for her. Anxious for book 2!
Check out this cover art. It’s amazing, right? I’ll admit, I requested this book from NetGalley all those months ago because this cover is amazing. So pretty. Plus there was a little girl called ‘Squirrel’ who is supposed to unite Japan? Sounds awesome! Unfortunately, I found the story lacking. I couldn’t really connect to the characters on a deep enough level. For example, in the beginning, Risuko is taken from her village after being purchased by Lady Chiyome, and she digs in her heels a little at first, but it really didn’t take much for her to seemingly “get over” being taken from her mother and sister. Sure on the outside she accepts her fate, but I find it hard to believe that a little girl would not even have any internal dialogue resenting Lady Chime or missing her family. She just kind of goes through the motions as if this is all normal. Now, that isn’t to say that all characters were difficult to understand. The exception is Kee Sun, the Korean cook working for Lady Chiyome. He was fabulous! He has his own nicknames for everyone and just a very vibrant personality. As far as pacing and plot, it took a really long time to figure out what the plot really was. Things were happening to Risuko, but it was almost like she was a bystander. Her actions were the result of people telling her what to do. It took a long time before her own actions began to drive the plot forward. By the time it ended, I liked where things had gone, but I just didn’t get enough sense of Risuko’s growth as a character. And while I can’t think of any scenes that should have been cut, I just didn’t see most of them really driving the plot forward. There were some really cool things in this book though. I learned a little about ancient Japan and the Takeda empire. I loved the concept of these women being trained as shrine maidens, but also spies and killers. There was some interesting information about herbs that I enjoyed reading about. (Yes, I’m a nerd.) Also, the tag line - Can one girl win a war? - is a little misleading. Because really, not much happened in this book. I can see maybe in future books this being a true catch line, but not this one. So, would I recommend this book? In the end, I think this book is just written for too young an audience for me. I think it reads more middle grade than YA and tweens and younger teens will probably get more from this story than older teens and adults, like myself. For those interested in ancient Japanese culture, this may be a good intro into the topic/culture. I’d say read the sample online to decide if the book is right for you.