After enjoying Sphinx’s Princess / Sphinx’s Queen so much, it was a natural extension to try another series by Esther Friesner, beginning with Spirit’s Princess.
Himiko is the young daughter of a Cheiftain. Her father heads the Maka clan and Himiko’s family is bound by his word. She is a spunky daughter who adores her elder brother, Aki. Spirit’s Princess follows Himiko as she grows from an impulsive child into a self-assured shaman. Admittedly, the plot line isn’t a strong thread, but the book is a bunch of little events all coming together. It’s not a dramatic story, but a tale of a girl figuring out who she is and how to be that person.
I’ve seen some of the Goodreads Reviews and I’ve come to the conclusion that:
- If you’re going to enjoy the book, as I did, you must be prepared for gross historical inaccuracies. Since I didn’t know the history to begin with, this wasn’t a problem for me. It’s fiction, and it borders on the fantasy. I’m okay with that.
- You’re going to have to read both of these together. The ending of Spirit’s Princess is lacking enough that I don’t think it can really be a stand-alone book.
- Accept that the cover is terrible and move on.
- Be warned that Himiko is a bit of a brat, particularly in her youth. As she grew into her own person, I liked her more and more.
- It’s a slower paced book, with no clear plot direction for most of it. You have to be okay with meandering.
I did enjoy it, but didn’t LOVE it, so I’ll give Spirit’s Princess a 3.5 / 5.
Now for Spirit’s Chosen, which I ended up reading a while after Spirit’s Princess because I had to wait for it to become available through the library.
Unfortunately, I found Spirit’s Chosen to be a bit disappointing. Himiko already knows who she is and what path she wants to follow, so there was no self-discovery to ease the slow story. Himiko is much more likable (less of a brat) but much less spunky in this second novel. In Spirit’s Chosen, Himiko tracks down the Ookami Clan in order to rescue her people, and most importantly her baby brother. Things don’t go quite as planned and Himiko is captured as a slave herself. She must find a way to survive and ultimately achieve her initial goal. As her powers as a Shaman are slowly recognized, Himiko becomes closer and closer to reaching her aim.
- Still the slow pace.
- There was a bit of a love story which did add some spice to the story.
- I felt like Himiko was a much more passive player this time around. She didn’t seem to actively try to change her fate – a characteristic I yearn for in a strong female character.
- I also didn’t really buy-in to the Shaman part of the story. I normally love tales of Magic, but the Spirit world didn’t capture my imagination.
- I felt that the climax was a bit too… convenient. I didn’t believe the change of heart experienced by one of the characters, and I was annoyed (and saddened) by the death of another character.
Although it didn’t really do it for me, this wasn’t a terrible book, so I think it still warrants a 3 / 5. Not a re-read.