SPIRIT'S PRINCESS by Esther Friesner


From the "Princesses of Myth" series, volume 5
Age Range: 11 - 13
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Himiko, pampered daughter of a clan chief, wants only to become a shaman.

Friesner's previous Princesses of Myth duologies featured young women (Helen of Troy and Queen Nefertiti) about whom enough historical or mythological information exists to provide the framework of story. With far less source material for Queen Himiko, the third-century Japanese shaman ruler, Himiko's story is an original work overlaid on a historical framework. Himiko's chieftain father adores her, as do her older brother and her father's wives. Despite their love and affection, none of them takes Himiko seriously when she insists she is a shaman. Himiko herself isn't sure she can achieve her goal; with one leg lame since she was a child, she can't do a shaman's dances. Though the current shaman insists Himiko will be her heir, it can't happen until Himiko is ready to stand up to her father. As a nice twist, Himiko isn't fighting sexism (the current shaman is female, and a nearby clan has a female shaman chieftess), but family history. It's a somewhat plodding journey through Himiko's early childhood and adolescence, but fans of Helen and Nefertiti will take Himiko into their hearts as well.

The slow-moving tale takes its readers on a journey through a tidily detailed historical setting, with a heroine not nearly as anachronistically progressive as is usual in such tales. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 24th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86907-5
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2012


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