Title: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
Author: John Flanagan
Series: The Ranger’s Apprentice #10
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Publisher: Random House Australia
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I don’t want any special privileges.
Horace is missing. Months have passed since he was sent on a military mission to the court of the Emperor of Nihon-Ja but he has failed to return. Evanlyn is worried and, in company with Will and Alyss, she sets out to discover what has become of their old friend.
They find that Horace has become embroiled in Nihon-Jan politics. The arrogant Senshi sect has rebelled against the rightful Emperor and Horace has chosen to stay and lend support to the desposed ruler. Now he and Will must find men willing to face the highly trained Senshi warriors, while Alyss and Evanlyn must overcome their longstanding rivalry to seek aid from a mysterious group of mountain dwellers.
Flanagan manages to do it again – he takes a well-known culture and uses it to build another fascinating world in his The Ranger’s Apprentice seires. This time, it is to the mountainous slopes of Japan and Asia that we are able to visit through such a fantastical lens. I love the vividness of the world which Flanagan has created, and the genuine level of research which he has obviously put into his work.
Horace’s integrity and willingness to stand for what is right, even when it isn’t quite the political thing to do is something that I have always admired about the character. Doing what is right and what will make the most people happy are two distinctly different things, and it can be incredibly difficult to do what you know in your heart is the right thing. Having a character that is so honest and integral is a great way to remind us that taking the easy rode isn’t necessarily the right way to go about things. Likewise, Horace’s simple, open honesty in such a situation brings a lightness and sense of righteousness to the story.
The growing relationships between Will and Alyss, Horace and Evanlyn are explored more fully in The Emperor of Nihon-Ja. As is the rivalry between the two girls. I love the way in which the four are able to work together, and eventually put all of their rivalries and jealousies behind them. The enmity between Evanlyn and Alyss has been building since Oakleaf Bearers, and it was nice to finally have a conclusion to this. Whilst their dislike of one another is understandable, it was also incredibly frustrating – it is immensely irritating to read a series where the two female leads are at odds with one another over a boy. The eventual way in which they are able to put this behind them and build a true, and lasting friendship finally helped to heal these wounds.
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