In this sequel to a story set in medieval Japan, a girl continues to struggle with being the princess of a defeated village and an exceptional shaman at the same time.
In Spirit’s Princess (2012), the aggressive Ookami clan attacked Himiko’s village and dragged off Noboru, her little brother, and others to slavery. Mad with grief, Himiko’s mother becomes subject to the death penalty when she attacks a child. To save her mother’s life, Himiko decides to travel to the Ookami village and free Noboru. The venture does not succeed, but Himiko’s connection to the spirit world helps her to rise to the point where she can challenge Lord Ryu, the Ookami’s belligerent and autocratic chieftain. Friesner’s characterizations work nicely, especially Kaya, Himiko’s self-confident huntress friend; Rinji, the insecure temporary shaman; Lady Sato, Ryu’s caustic mother; and bombastic Ryu himself. The author runs into difficulty, though, with the sudden emotional shifts she forces on her characters whenever the plot requires a friend to become an instant enemy. Characters shift from love to hatred and from friendship to belligerence, usually abruptly and with no transitional period. Still, the rather slow-moving but suspenseful story gives readers an intriguing view into a fascinating society of the past, even as it takes Himiko’s spirit world seriously.
Interesting if flawed. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)