The weight of the past could tear them apart…
In his first mission as a shinobi, Sora Sanada has more than its success riding on his shoulders. Every move he makes is a reflection on his clan’s honor. So when an unexpected scuffle leaves him injured and the mission in jeopardy, he’d rather be left behind—but his partner, the mysterious, masked Kaname, has other ideas.
Kaname breathes a silent sigh of relief when the younger, less-experienced Sora agrees to a plan to throw their enemies off their trail. As a member of the deposed Takeda clan, the last thing he needs is more disgrace heaped upon the family name should he lose the Sanada princeling.
His plan to disguise themselves as naked lovers is a rousing success in more ways than one. It sparks a bond that shakes them to the core—and the Shinano Province to its foundations…
Review by Erastes
Lovely cover, just beautiful. More like this, please.
I don’t know if it was the author’s deliberate style to induce a feeling of “inscrutability” in this book but I found it a little heavy going. It’s only 40 or so pages, but it took me a couple of days – I kept going back to it over and again. Usually I’d expect to read something like this is one hit. The story flickered around a great deal flipping from the protagonists going on an killing raid then a scene in the town and I found it hard to concentrate on what was going on. I would have liked something to anchor me in time, too–because the Japanese culture was hidden from western eyes for so many years, I had no idea whether this was 12th century or 17th. The most I can say is “Japanese Warlord” era which is quite broad.
There were some concepts that I simply didn’t get, too. I think it’s a case of the author knowing her subject too well–not at all a bad thing, of course, but sometimes I simply didn’t understand the references to the Japanese terms because often they weren’t explained in context. I don’t really want to have to flick to Wikipedia to find out what things are – I’m lazy, I want to relax on the couch. I would have been more than happy to have another 30 pages and a bit more painting in of the details.
That being said, the writing is wonderful, full of lovely descriptive touches–there’s a kiss in the rain which pushed all of my buttons and made me melt into a puddle of goo.
The fact that they are men, not chicks with dicks, and more than that–warriors first is never forgotten. They comport themselves like men in public (usually!) and it’s convincing and well done. Sora is the privileged son of a high ranking family, and Kaname, despite being ten years older, so Sora has the higher rank in the shinobi task force, and Kaname the lower. Part of the problem is–as the title suggests–that Kaname is suffering from a scandal caused by his father–and in this society, the sins of the father cause the entire family to be tainted. It’s this taint that Kaname carries–very nobly and to his credit, actually–and the root of a mystery that leads Sora to a conclusion he wasn’t expecting.
I liked the way they talked to each other–it’s nicely masculine. Sentences left unfinished, misunderstandings, actions which are misinterpreted, Sora especially, struggling to make sense of Kaname’s actions and motivations and usually failing miserably.
All in all it’s a very interesting insight into an era I know very little about–and had the culture been a little bit more filled in I think I would have enjoyed it a great deal more. I would certainly read another book by this author.
Anyone who has read and enjoyed “Ghosts” by Olivia Lorenz or “Across the Nightingale Floor” by Lian Hearn will enjoy this immensely and anyone interested in this era will certainly be enthralled.