精霊の守り人[PDF] ❤ 精霊の守り人 Author Nahoko Uehashi – Heartforum.co.uk You've never read a fantasy novel like this one! The deep well of Japanese myth merges with the Western fantasy tradition for a novel that's as rich in place and culture as it is hard to put down
You've never read a fantasy novel like this one! The deep well of Japanese myth merges with the Western fantasy tradition for a novel that's as rich in place and culture as it is hard to put downBalsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging riverand at that moment, her destiny changed Now Balsa must protect the boythe Prince Chagumon his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the eggeating monster Rarungaand the prince's own father.

Nahoko Uehashi is the author of ten books in the Moribito series, which have sold than a million copies and won many major literary awards in her native Japan An associate professor at a Japanese university, she has a PhD in cultural anthropology and studies indigenous peoples in Australia She lives near Tokyo, Japan.

精霊の守り人 PDF Ä Hardcover
  • Hardcover
  • 248 pages
  • 精霊の守り人
  • Nahoko Uehashi
  • English
  • 11 September 2017
  • 9780545005425

10 thoughts on “精霊の守り人

  1. Cyna says:

    So I thought this was going to be a short one, because, well, the book is pretty short, and I didn't think I had much to say about it. Then I started writing, and NGL, totally fangirling, but I don't even care, because this series is fucking awesome, y'all. While Moribito isn't perfect, it was a genuinely pleasurable reading experience, and I would gladly commit gratuitous acts of imaginary violence to have more like it.

    For those who skipped the summary, Moribito is the story of Balsa, a thirty-year-old bodyguard, who is tasked with protecting a prince after it's discovered that he carries a water spirit inside of him, which must hatch in order to prevent the country from suffering a terrible drought. The book follows their quest to ensure both the survival of the prince, Chagum, and the development of the spirit within him.

    The thing you should probably be aware of, as a reader, is that Moribito is, for the most part, a children's book. I've seen it on some urban fantasy lists on Goodreads, and expecting it to be something along the lines of, say, the Mercy Thompson or even Vampire Academy series isn't quite accurate. It's a fairytale, a fantasy adventure for children, with all of the sweet magic, creatures, and world-building that this implies. That doesn't mean that it's not still enjoyable for adults, but it's definitely not the GrittyGrittyMurderANGSTSexLoveManFest that a lot of UF titles are. Think of it like a Pixar movie - it works for kids, but has enough meat and emotional relevance to appeal to adults as well.

    The prose, storyline, and focus are simpler. The side characters can be a little flat. I'm not sure if it's a result of the translation, or the prose itself, but the writing can be heavy on the tell side, and there are more than a few eyebrow-raising anachronisms that I suspect might be the result of localization. The story isn't terribly complex or deep.

    But - and it's a big BUT - Moribito is more than worth the read for the joy of it; for the main characters, for their problems, for their bonds and their journey together, and oh sweet baby Cheesus, for Balsa.

    I love Balsa. Over the course of two books and one anime series, she's easily become one of my favorite characters, and you'll all be receiving invitations to witness our glorious marital union within the month. There is just so much about her that is awesome: she's thirty, she's a bodyguard, she has lines on her face and bags under her eyes, she's honest and brave and noble, she can take out a team of highly-trained assassins on her own, she's rough around the edges, and holy fucking shit of surprises, her life does not revolve around romance, but she loves and defends the people who've collected around her and become her family.

    Balsa is basically the kind of female hero I want to read about more often. She's so wonderfully competent, at her job, in the decisions she makes, as a leader, that it makes me want to cry, and not a little because truly competent female heroines are so rare...

    Read full review at You're Killing.Us.

  2. TheBookSmugglers says:

    Originally reviewed on Kirkus' Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog

    “Your Highness,” she said. “I’ve already explained that no matter how much you might give me, it’s no good to me if I’m dead. Forgive my rudeness, but I must speak plainly. You have dealt me an unfair and cowardly blow.”
    The queen went pale and began to tremble violently. “What do you mean?”
    “I saved the prince’s life, yet you reward me by taking my life. What would you call that but unfair and cowardly?”

    On the prosperous, island kingdom of Yogo, the divine king Mikado rules absolute, his veins carrying the precious blood of the god Ten no kami. When the Mikado’s son, the Second Prince Chagnum, is thrown from his carriage in a freak accident, he’s nearly killed; luckily for Chagnum, a traveling warrior named Balsa is in the right place at the right time and saves him from certain death.

    A bodyguard-for-hire renowned for her fierceness with a spear, Balsa is rewarded for her good deed by being invited by the Second Queen to the palace—where she is promptly ambushed and implored by the desperate queen to protect her son. The carriage incident was no accident, and the Second Queen is convinced that the Mikado and his Star Reader priests are trying to kill her son for the good of the kingdom, as they believe Chagnum is possessed by a water demon that will cause a catastrophic drought. As fierce as Balsa may be, she cannot leave the innocent Chagnum to such a horrible fate, and accepts the role as his bodyguard. Little does Balsa know that Chagnum’s survival will determine the destiny of the kingdom, and the secret of the young prince’s “possession” will unlock the forgotten truth behind Yogo’s layered and rewritten past.

    This review can be summed up in a single word: wow.

    After reading and striking out with so many new superhero books (not to mention culturally appropriative “Japanese-inspired” fantasy novels), it was with a wary eye that I picked this book as the subject for my Kirkus contribution this week.* Thankfully, Guardian of the Spirit was a soothing balm for my frayed patience. A beloved best-seller in its native country of publication, Japan, the Moribito books have since been adapted into a manga series, an anime series and a radio drama, and finally made their way to the United States in 2008. It’s easy to see why Balsa and her cohorts have found such a strong following across languages and formats—suffice it to say, dear readers, this book completely rocks.

    You may be wondering where superheroes fit in, as by all counts Guardian of the Spirit appears to be a feudal Japanese-type fantasy novel (right?). In my opinion, Balsa is—without a doubt—a superhero and on a hero’s journey. Though she has no superpowers per se, Balsa is an incredibly skilled warrior (though not infallible and clearly mortal) and, most importantly, she fights to protect those who have no protectors. She’s female, she’s 30 years old (another point in the awesome column), and she’s a bonafide badass with a chip on her shoulder.**

    What’s so intriguing about Balsa as a character, however, is her surprising empathy; she’s not just a badass killing machine with no heart, nor is she reduced to a matronly figure (as, unfortunately, older female superheroes often seem to be labeled). No, Balsa is strong without being abrasive, and she’s emotionally genuine without being pigeonholed as a motherly role model. Nor is Balsa objectified or sexualized—she’s underestimated by other warriors (who see her as an easy target, alone on the road as she is), but I love that she’s appreciated and valued for her bravery, her heart and her skill.

    The same appraising awesomeness can be said for the other main female character in the text (a surprise assumption that I don’t want to ruin). Furthermore, author Nahoko Uehashi (a professor of ethnology at the Kawamura Gakuen Women’s University in Japan) pays careful attention to Balsa’s Japanese-inspired world and the different ethnicities and beliefs of the people in that world. Religious tolerance, displaced indigenous people, traditions and histories rewritten by the victors are all major themes in Guardian of the Spirit, and each executed to perfection.

    This all sounds rather introspective and clinical, doesn’t it? Allow me to fix that, because really, Guardian of the Spirit is an action book. Uehashi has an unparalleled talent for explosive action sequences (it’s easy to see how this book lends itself to an anime series!) to compliment her fast-moving, high-stakes plot, and paints vivid images of Balsa throwing her shuriken and whipping her spear around in a brilliant flash of silver and blood as she battles iron-clad men and tentacled monsters alike.***

    And the best part? The best part is that there is a second book, a translated manga series, and a dubbed and subtitled anime series waiting for any new fans just discovering the magic of Moribito. I, for one, cannot wait for more of Balsa and her friends.

    In Book Smugglerish, 9 flashing spears out of 10.

    * I’m looking at you Stormdancer and Daughter of the Flames.

    ** Though you may be thinking Wonder Woman, Balsa is actually more akin to Batman: same traumatic backstory, same very human/non-superpowered background, same sharp edges and violence.

    *** Big time props must also be given to Cathy Hirano, who does a phenomenal job in this English translation.

  3. Betsy says:

    No one can look you in the eye and tell you that kids today don't read Japanese literature. A simple stroll by the manga section of any well-stocked bookstore will put your mind to rest on that particular matter. But what the kids aren't reading these days is Japanese prose. How many novels for kids, translated from Japanese, can you come up with off the top of your head? Living as we do at a time when children's literature is profitable and all encompassing, you would think that publishers would be scrambling to fill the sudden need kids have for all things Japanese. I get ten-year-olds at my Reference Desk asking for information about Japan all the time and manga made it cool. Now it's time to expand their little craniums with some quality literature. Quality literature that involves egg-eating monsters, glorious fight sequences, strong female characters, and a clear-headed view of how politicians warp history to serve their own ends. Looking for a new kind of fantasy for the kiddies? Talk up something with a little more oomph. Talk up Moribito.

    I'm sure you've heard of soldiers for hire, but bodyguards for hire? That's the job Balsa has had for years, and anyone who has ever met her will tell you that she's good at what she does. In fact, saving people is so ingrained in her that when she sees a prince thrown off a high bridge into the raging waters below she immediately saves his life. No good deed goes unpunished, however, and soon enough Balsa is roped into guarding the prince full time. It seems that the boy is carrying some kind of spirit within himself, and his father the Mikado is determined to kill his boy for the sake of the empire. To save him, Balsa will need to find out the truth behind long-forgotten ancient legends and fight off the Mikado's secret fighting force in order to save not just a prince, but an entire country as well.

    I'm an adult reviewer of children's books. As such I'm supposed to carry around with me this lofty air, deigning me to be the guardian of great children's literature, and so on, and so on, and so forth. There's always that feeling that while I can judge a book from a critical standpoint, I'm not actually supposed to enjoy the book, per say. But I really loved reading Moribito. I did! From start to finish I found it fun, intelligent, and really well put together. Some authors never really establish a firm grasp on the world in which their characters inhabit. Others, like Ms. Uehashi, flesh it out so well that you're half convinced that you could buy a plane ticket there, should the fancy strike you. Uehashi also tackles several aspects of this book particularly well. She writes remarkable fight scenes, knows how to create three-dimensional characters (so that you're trying to determine if a villain is bad or just misinformed), and manages to tell kids a little something about powerful people and their weaknesses that in a lesser writer's hands might have turned didactic, or worse, dull. Instead, the reader is sucked into the book right from the start and you'll find your sleeping and eating cast aside in lieu of getting just one more chapter down.

    Getting back to that comment I made about the villains in this piece, Uehashi has the uncanny ability to slip easily from one character's mind to another without forcing her narrative to become herky jerky. She recognizes that few people in this world would describe themselves as villains. As such, almost everyone in this book is under the distinct impression that what they are working towards is the greater good. Except, ironically enough, Balsa.

    Why is it that whenever I run across a woman who becomes a hero in a physical sense, be it in film, television, or literature, the temptation is to always compare her to Buffy the Vampire Slayer right off the bat? Because that's the feeling Balsa creates in a reader. She exudes confidence. When you first see her she acts without hesitation in rescuing the prince. Too often when an author writes a tough female heroine, you end up in a head full of doubts and quibbles. What I liked about Balsa was the she was basically a jock. She's good at the physical stuff, at making decisions, and at protecting people. The subtleties of personal relationships and the like are not for her. Still, when you run across a heroine this singular your brain sometimes tries to think of similar characters so that you'll have some point of reference. At one point I even thought about comparing her to Kiki Strike . . . until I realized that for all her tough-woman attitudes, we feel much closer to Balsa than most females in other books. Uehashi really makes her likeable and strong in ways that stick with you.

    Extra crispy and delicious kudos to the translation done by Cathy Hirano, by the way. Every once in a while I would have to punch my own leg to remind myself that I wasn't reading the original text. But how often do you find a translator willing to come up with sentences like, Fire was anathema to a creature accustomed to living in the cold, dark mud,? Not often enough.

    People will tell you that boys won't read novels with girls on the cover. Not even one with a full repertoire of kicks, punches, dodges, and feints at her disposal. This is not always true but it is often the case (I've seen it first-hand). Moribito, in spite of its thirty-year-old female protagonist, may have an advantage over other books though, in part because it has a lot of points in its favor. First of all, the Moribito series (ten books in total) is very popular in Japan. The first book was even adapted into an animated series, and that's something you can talk up. Should this novel do well in sales, I could even see an adapted manga version being written/transferred to America as a companion piece. If a librarian/bookseller/teacher/parent wanted a kid to read this book, all they'd have to do would be to stress the action sequences (and the slam bang beginning will help in this matter), the Japanese heritage, and the cool anime series. Sell it to them well and those kids that already love Jeff Stone's The Five Ancestors series will come crawling back for more. This is a book that deserves to be discovered.

    Ages 9-14.

  4. Ellie (faerieontheshelf) says:

    > 4.5 stars

    This book is slightly old now, and it was published in the time where diverse ownvoices fantasy often wasn’t given the time of the day, so it’s not that well-known either. But honestly it’s brilliant, and needs more love! And as Asian fantasy and diverse fantasy overall is becoming so incredibly popular, with releases like Girls of Paper and Fire and Flame in the Mist, this novel is perfect for those looking for more Japanese fantasy.

    Moribito presents truly memorable characters in Balsa and Chagum. Two unlikely companions - an older warrior woman and a young prince - travel to deliver the egg of the water spirit to the location where it must be hatched. It’s a simple story interceded with perspectives from other characters, such as star readers and an old witch, and feels very much like a timeless piece of fantasy writing that appeals to children and adults.

    The book - or the US hardcover, at least - is beautifully designed inside and out, and I just have to acknowledge this because genuinely it’s one of the most beautiful books inside that I’ve seen, ever.

    Also, the anime adaption of this is truly stunning and the music is epic, so if you read this, that soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment.

  5. Aravena says:

    Moribito is a rare kind of story that....

    (1) has everything (action, drama, fantasy, politic, slice of life, romance); and
    (2) makes all of them work.

    Revolving around a female bodyguard and a prince she's entrusted with, the narrative of Moribito is as elegant as it gets. I always love it when an author can deliver a deep and substantial storyline in very accessible format, and Nahoko Uehashi sure is terrific at that. The book strikes a difficult balance by being a child-friendly reading thanks to its easily digestible prose, while also presenting a rich setting, meaty themes with real life parallels, and mature characterization. Furthermore, Uehashi displays a strong grasp of plotting and consistent cause-and-effect dynamics, which many writers often neglect.

    Before we get further to the specifics, let's meet the heroine:

    (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]

  6. branewurms says:

    4 1/2 stars. It wasn't perfect, but man, it was really damn good. The prose is smooth, although a little flat, and the book relied a little too heavily on introspection as a method of relaying information, I think. But it was really gripping, and wow, the expertise of the author really shines through in the worldbuilding. I was also surprised at how well the themes of colonialism and such were handled - and how clearly deliberately thought out they were. This ain't your standard poor lost prince narrative. Uehashi is obviously conscious of this stuff and knows what she's doing.

    Need I even mention the awesomeness of the whole AWESOME HARD-BITTEN BADASS SPEAR-WIELDING BODYGUARD LADY for a main character thing? Or the bonus of her gentle healer figure of a male love interest? Who she can't seem to settle down with, because, omg y'all, ~fighting is in her bones~. Gender-role reversals ftw! Like I said, Uehashi is conscious of this stuff and knows what she's doing.

    (...Although it must be said, I am still a little confused at having a 30 year old woman as the main character of a YA series. Not that I have a problem with it, mind you! I'm just confused.)

    Oh, and the action scenes! The action scenes were fantastic. I usually have a lot of trouble following what's going on in fight scenes in prose form, but in this book they were so clear, and they flowed so well! These are the sorts of action scenes you study to find out how it's done.

    I was surprised by how much more I liked the book than the anime. I only watched about half the anime before getting distracted from it - the anime certainly had a well-told storyline, with excellent characterization and world building, etc., but somehow it just never engaged me much emotionally. The original book is much tighter and faster paced, and while the anime admittedly used its extra space for more in-depth, nuanced characterization, the book was just somehow far more gripping to me.

  7. Shira Glassman says:

    Loved this. Someone recommended it to me because there's a prominent warrior woman in my series, so they thought Balsa would appeal to me. She does, but I like the book for many reasons besides her. What I loved most was the way two factions who start out the book at odds with each other wind up learning that they're actually on the same side against a real enemy. I liked the ultimate message of how two sides had to combine two pieces of a legend in order to defeat the Plot Thing.

    Balsa rescues, protects, nurtures, and trains a boy in this story, which combines so many elements dear to me: women as rescuers, women rescuing men, the juxtaposition of strength with nurturing instead of being opposite, and a boy having a female mentor (because why not? Except we hardly ever get to see that.)

    The settings in this book are vivid and colorful, whether cityscape, palace, or mountain refuge. I also didn't find the speculative elements of the worldbuilding too stressful to comprehend, which for me is an important piece of information when choosing my SFF reading material.

  8. LG (A Library Girl& says:

    The last time I read and reviewed this book was back in 2010, when my posts included spoiler-filled synopses that were as long or longer than the reviews themselves. I figured that a new review was in order, especially since my opinion of this book has improved.

    After Balsa, a female bodyguard, rescues young Prince Chagum from drowning, she finds herself being roped into being his protector. Chagum is believed to be possessed by the same creature that once caused a terrible drought. It's thought that the drought will be averted if Chagum is killed, so the Mikado himself has ordered several assassination attempts against him. Chagum's mother, the Second Queen, enlists Balsa's help to save him.

    While Balsa attempts to hide Chagum and keep him safe from his pursuers, she also seeks out several friends in the hope of figuring out what's going on so that she can somehow both save Chagum's life and prevent the drought.

    The first time I read this book was, I think, too soon after having seen the anime. They're both good, but the time I spent noting similarities and differences to the anime made it hard to judge the book on its own merits (yes, I know the book came first, but my first exposure to the story was the anime).

    Balsa makes me wish more than the first two books in this series had been translated into English. She's a great character - an experienced and talented warrior with an intriguing past. In general, the book had some nice gender role reversal, with its female stoic warrior character and male healer interested in the spirit world. There was a hint of potential romance between Balsa and Tanda, the healer, but it was handled in a very low-drama way. Tanda was a little frustrated at Balsa's lack of desire to settle down, but it never got to the point of wrecking their friendship.

    The found family aspect involving Balsa, Tanda, and Chagum was nice. I enjoyed that restful period of the story before everybody had to worry about Chagum's safety again, and it was nice to see Chagum becoming more comfortable and confident in his life as a commoner.

    One of the things I really liked about this book was the way the setting and its history mattered. This was very much a story about how knowledge is lost or changed over time. Near the beginning of the book, readers get the history of how New Yogo was founded, but it's entirely from the perspective of the Yogoese, who are currently the area's dominant ethnic group. Later on, readers get more sides of the story - the secret history that only the Star Readers know (which is, again, Yogoese history) and Yakoo stories.

    The Yakoo were the people who originally lived in the area where New Yogo was founded. (Supposedly they fled out of fear when the Yogoese peacefully tried to contact them, and I think the Yakoo side of the story agreed with this or at least didn't refute it, but I don't buy it.) They'd lost much of their culture and traditions, and what was left was sometimes mixed with Yogoese culture to an uncertain degree. It gave me shivers to think how close everyone came to not having the knowledge they needed during the chase at the end of the book.

    I was surprised at how much I enjoyed rereading this. I haven't read the next book in the series yet, but I'm now looking forward to it even more.

    (Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

  9. Maya says:

    The Moribito (= Guardian) series is one of my favorite works, not only of Asian Fantasy, but of the fantasy genre in general. The world-building, the characters, the story, everything about it is not only, imho, original and creative, but also worked perfectly for me. I will try to express what fascinated me the first time I visited the worlds of Nayugu and Sagu, and what still impresses me after reading (and watching) the story multiple times.

    First of all there's the world-building. The book is barely 250 pages long, yet Nahoko Uehashi seemingly effortlessly creates a world more complex and more realistic than others manage in a whole series. I believe that due to her professional formation as an anthropologist, she has this vast pool of knowledge about history and how society works and develops over time, which allows her to create convincing settings without even having to do any specific research anymore.

    The world of Guardian of the Spirit is ridiculously complete. Uehashi has it all in her head. From the customs of the different people, to their national history, to their folk songs, to their food, to the animals living in the region. The different plates, mostly prepared by Tanda, are described so precisely, they even published a cooking book with all the meals that appear in the series.

    And that's only the realistic part of the setting. The fantastic part concerns the two worlds of Nayugu and Sagu. They work like two sides of a coin, but a coin with a few holes here and there. Sagu could be pretty much our world a few centuries ago (it is based on ancient Japan), most of the supernatural stuff comes from Nayugu. Unfortunately the inhabitants of Sagu have mostly forgotten how to deal with the monsters Nayugu throws at them, which is what the story is all about.

    So, the characters. I adore Balsa and Chagum. They are an odd pair and both absolutely loveable. Balsa being a 30-year-old bodyguard for hire is not only an extremely unique main character, but also a complex one. She is so strong, but has a vulnerable side as well. She has a tragic past, without being all traumatized. And thanks to teaming up with Chagum we even see her developing a maternal side. This character development as they get to know and to care for each other is very touching, but never cheesy.

    Chagum is an equally strong character, even if in a completely different way. He is smart and mature, yet not unrealistically so. Child characters have a tendency to become annoying, which is certainly not the case here.

    The secondary characters like Tanda, Shuga and Torogai are diverse, intriguing and nicely developed as well. Tanda especially is such a loyal soul, who supports Balsa without expecting anything in return.

    I'm not a fan of fighting scenes, but in this book they're quite refreshing and well constructed. Uehashi does a great job describing Balsa's spear-wielding techniques and adds little twists and tricks here and there to keep things interesting.

    Finally, as you can probably guess from the shortness of the book, the story is very fast-paced. Uehashi wastes no time and drops the reader directly in the middle of the first, life-altering meeting of Balsa and Chagum. Then we get a brief explanation of the situation, and off they go, running and fighting for their lives non-stop while trying to find a way out of their dilemma.

    But actually, no. I've read other similarly short books in which not nearly as much happens (hello Balefire, House of Night ...). Guardian of the Spirit is not short because the author has nothing to say, but because she has a very concise and straightforward writing style. Probably a bit too much so for some readers, but Balsa's story will at least most definitely never bore you. In my opinion the writing also flows pretty smoothly and is rather pleasant to read. Cathy Hirano does a great job with the translation, yet again.

    I have very little to criticize in this book. My main criticism being that it is too short. But I have to admit the construction of the story is not exactly perfect. Guardian of the Spirit is the contrary of all these books that keep characters from realizing the most obvious things for the whole story. For example, at one point a character remembers the complete creation myth of the country and recites it, basically for the reader. I believe this could have been presented a bit more intriguingly. There are other things that are directly presented to the reader, when he maybe could have been kept guessing a bit more – because all these things are very well thought-through, so it almost feels like a shame to present them in the most obvious way.

    While there are more installments in the series, set in the same world, that tell the continuation of Balsa's story, this first book has a clear resolution and can be read as a stand-alone without a problem.

    Guardian of the Spirit is an adventure story, but also a story about different cultures meeting and mutually assimilating each other, mixing to create something new, of understanding between different people on a larger scale and humans on an individual level. I can recommend it to anybody looking for a fresh and creative read. Given its shortness, you risk very little joining Balsa and Chagum on their journey and I dare say you won't regret investing the few hours this book takes to read.

  10. Jack says:

    I came to this book after having watched the anime and falling love with the characters and story. I was hoping that the book would be more expansive than the anime adaption, but in this case, it seems to be the other way round. Still, it was an enjoyable read and despite it quite evidently being aimed at younger readers, I'm glad to have it in my collection!

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