Daughter of the Sword
by Steve BeinPublished by: Roc Trade Publish Date: October 2, 2012 Genre: Urban Fantasy Series: Fated Blades #1 Source: Review Copy Rory’s Rating: From Goodreads:
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 possible. But the case—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.
The owner of the sword, Professor 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. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.
This is a hard book to review. The synopsis above doesn’t really do justice to how epic in scope this novel is. Daughter of the Sword weaves past and present together, following the story of the swords through time. The vignettes into the past were especially well-researched and fascinating
Mariko is trying to prove herself worthy of her spot on one of Tokyo’s most elite police forces. She is as good, if not better, than most of her coworkers. However, this doesn’t stop her boss from removing her from a promising cocaine case and sticking her with a dead end sword theft case. However, when drug dealers start turning up – murdered by a sword – the case gets more interesting than Mariko ever would have imagined.
This is a tough book to classify – it’s genre defying if you will. It is not quite urban fantasy, but close. It’s more like urban fantasy with prominent strains of historical, mythological, and contemporary fiction mixed in. It is a totally unique novel. It is also nice to read a book that is not set in the US; it was outside my usual geographic reading area.
Mariko is a fascinating lead character. She is tough, intelligent, and easy to like. There is no romance in the novel, which is almost a nice change (it wouldn’t fit in this novel, so it is fittingly missing). Daughter of the Sword is filled with intelligent writing, intricate plots, and fascinating lore. You might learn a few Japanese words as well.
While this is the start of a series, it can be read as a standalone novel. In fact, the plot lines all wrap up rather nicely, so I’ll be curious to see when and where book #2 picks up. Steve Bein is certainly an author to watch. 4 stars.