Fangirls, if you recall I recommended a book called Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein. Basically, it was fabulous and I couldn’t wait for more from the series. Well, I have finished the second book in the Fated Blades series called Year of the Demon.
Once again, we follow Mariko Oshiro, the only female in the Tokyo Metro Police Department. This time, she is a member of the Narcotics department, her goal from the last book. The new job means new rules, a new partner, and a new lieutenant. Her new partner, Han, thinks along the same wavelength she does, which makes their partnership almost perfect. Her new lieutenant isn’t a misogynist, he’s actually awesome throughout the whole book. And Han is pretty awesome too, so yay new characters in her life.
Mariko and Han are assigned to a mysterious drugs case that (minor spoiler) isn’t as about drugs as everyone thinks. After their team raids a warehouse, an iron demon mask is stolen from the building. And then Mariko’s prized sword Glorious Victory Unsought is stolen as she sleeps. She discovers thanks to Yamada-sensai’s journals that the mask and the sword have been connected throughout history.
Enter my favorite bits of the story; the history. We see Daigoro again, the crippled samurai charged with protecting his family’s lands and the great Glorious Victory Unsought. He discovers a new enemy in Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s most beloved advisor Shichio. Shichio is afraid Daigoro knows something shameful from his past and wants that shame erased at any cost. Driving him is the demon mask, and as soon as the demon mask meets Glorious Victory, Shichio knows he must have the sword.
We also meet Kaida, another cripple who lived before Daigoro. She is an ama, a woman who is an expert at diving. She lost her arm in an accident and has had to work hard to be an ama. One day, after a horrific ship crash in the sea by her town, outlanders arrive. They forge (I believe) the demon mask and use it to try and find the one important treasure from the wreck; Glorious Victory Unsought.
With this second book in the series, I found myself still really enjoying the story but also reading it way slower than before. I loved Daigoro’s story and Kaida’s story. I thought they were well written and thought out and I truly enjoyed it. I enjoyed Mariko’s mystery as well, however I found a lot of it repeating itself; mostly her insecurities about being the only woman on the force and having to train with her left hand instead of her right and being unsteady with her left hand thus making her hesitate. I understand why all of the insecurities were there, I do. But it felt like every time we came back to a Mariko section we had to be reminded that she had these hoops to jump through. It felt too repetitive to me.
I will say though, I commend Steve Bein on not forcing a love story between Mariko and Han. They are clearly best friends, obviously, and there is no indication of a love story between them. Thank god he didn’t force that. I spent a lot of time worrying that it would happen and it would be forced and I would cringe but it never happened.
There is a third book in the series, Disciple of the Wind, which I am anxious to read. I do truly still love this series, even if this book had middle story syndrome. I believe the third book was just published this year, so I don’t have any idea on if there will be a fourth one or not. We’ll have to wait and see.
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