One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.
Now he has broken free.
Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.
Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.
Like the first book in the series, I consumed this one like a man dying of thirst given a jug of water. I mean, let’s be real here: there are only two things I consume this quickly. The first is chocolate chip cookies. The second is this book.
Once again, I loved the interplay between the characters and the setting. It wasn’t just a setting and the characters just happened to be on that backdrop: they were connected. The setting influenced the characters, while in turn, the characters impacted the setting.
Take one of the primary themes for example. Honor is often discussed in this book, though it mostly gets its verbiage out through Daisuke’s conversations. He’s the one most aware of honor and its obligations (which makes Okame’s foil as the honor-less ronin just that much better) and he’s the one bringing that topic of conversation up more often than not. Because that’s the setting he was raised in. That was the culture he grew up in. He’s been molded by his duty and it shows, from his priorities to his actions.
That’s not to say he’s strictly fixated on it. Like most people, he sways under the weight of his duties and responsibilities. Primarily when it comes to his own wants and desires. And I think that’s what makes this book so compelling, what makes its characters so relatable: the conflict between desire and duty. Especially in this installment of the series.
It’s in those moments of conflict that a person’s character changes, that they’re forged into someone new. And we’re here for the challenges, right? To see these characters struggle and overcome. Kagawa’s writing does an expert job in highlighting the moral juggling act each character faces when it comes down to choosing what they want versus what is right. Which, in my opinion, makes for pretty powerful writing.
Again, like with Shadow of the Fox, I loved the world building. And the steady pacing hooked me, then reeled me in until I breezed through the novel. There really wasn’t an area I didn’t appreciate or some story component that left me aggravated or displeased. As a reader, I think this story did exactly what it was meant to: entertain while nudging me to think about my own sense of honor. And for that, I give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars.