*This title will be released on October 2, 2012*
Daughter of the Sword
by Steve Bein
Genre: Police Procedural, Historical|
Excerpt: No | Book Trailer: No
Reviewed by: Abigail| Source: Publisher
Excellent – Loved it! Buy it now & put this author on your watch list.
References to sex and rape.
Mariko Oshiro is not your average Tokyo cop. As the only female detective in the city’s most elite police unit, she has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. While she wants to track down a rumored cocaine shipment, he gives her the least promising case he’s got. But the case—the attempted theft of an antique sword—proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could possibly imagine.
The owner of the sword, Dr. Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it. Or so says Yamada, and though he has studied swords and swordsmanship all his life, Mariko isn’t convinced.
But Mariko’s skepticism hardly matters. Her investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever, and even the sword she learns to wield herself could turn against her…
Pitch me an urban fantasy with a killer cover by Chris McGrath, set in both modern and Feudal Japan, involving magical swords and drug trafficking, and that’s a book that’s going to grab my attention big time. The problem with DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD by Steve Bein, is that that’s not exactly what you get. The writing is lush and evocative, and the characters are broken and heroic in turn, but despite the publisher categorization, this is not urban fantasy.
So what is it? Well, it’s primarily a police procedural–and a very good one–with lengthy historical passages that flash back centuries ago to recount the origins of three legendary swords that resurface in the main story. The description says these swords are ‘magical’…that’s not quite the word I would use. They supposedly can influence those who wield them and/or protect them. Really though, the swords are more like good or bad luck charms. Certain things happen that characters attribute to the swords, but are indistinguishable from coincidence. If DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD hadn’t been labeled as Urban Fantasy, I would never have guessed it was supposed to be.
Even though the fantasy elements are negligible, DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD is a gritty and compelling police procedural. I was halfway through the book before it even occurred to me that it wasn’t the promised urban fantasy. It was so good that I didn’t even mind. The Japanese culture rang very authentic with subtle details that gradually built a world that felt as real as possible (no surprise since the author is a professor of Asian philosophy and Asian history at the State University of New York). The characters also came to life here, especially the villain who grew more and more psychotic throughout the book. The whole story was written in beautiful and exotic detail which contrasted nicely with the very real, and harsh reality of the Japanese criminal underworld.
It’s a rare book that can win me over after a somewhat misleading description, one almost entirely devoid of the urban fantasy elements I was expecting, but DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD did just that. Beautiful writing, a smart and resilient protagonist who meets her match in a coldly demented villain. The procedural elements are tight and fascinatingly different from those common to the US police. It may not be exactly magical, but I was bewitched nonetheless.
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