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The Disfavored Hero (Tomoe Gozen #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  254 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In a dimension next to ours, there is a world very much like Earth...

In that world there is an island empire called Naipon, where the gods and demons known only as legends in our Japan roam freely over the land, bringing good an evil to its people as they choose. There are mighty warriors, samurai, in Naipon as in Japan, and added to their skill with the two swords of a sa
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 28th 1999 by Pacific Warriors Inc (first published 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 867)
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Althea Ann
The setting: an alternate-world 12th-century Japan, where all the creatures and magic of Japanese folktale are very real.

The character: Tomoe Gozen, woman warrior extraordinaire.
Tomoe is an actual historical figure, a female samurai who fought in the Genpei war, and was renowned for both her military prowess and her beauty.

However, in this incarnation, she is a pure fantasy hero. We follow Tomoe as she experiences evil sorcery, monsters, curses, betrayal, and more - as she makes friends and los
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David
This is one of my favorite fantasy novels of all time. This is basically the story of the 12th century civil war in Japan that established the samurai class, and it's historically accurate except that it's set in an alternate-earth version of Japan where magic and magical beings are real. Thus, Japanese history and myth are combined in an exciting, epic tale.

Tomoe Gozen was an actual historical figure, though of course Salmonson has created a completely fictional version based on what little is
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Chris
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

This is a strange book, but strange in a good way. Salmonson takes the real life samurai Tomoe Gozen (a woman samurai who fought in the Genepi war) and creates a historical fantasy set in an alternate Japan.

The thing is, the book is meditation disguised as an adventure story.
Gozen starts as a sworn samurai who is debating taking a deeper oath with three others, but then a battle occurs in which despite heroic deeds, Gozen loses her status, loses herself. In many
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A totally enthralling tale of adventure, terror and personal transformation in a land called Naipon in a world where magic is real and the gods may touch mortal lives at any moment. Salmondson takes the bare facts we know about the real Tomoe Gozen, a 13-century female samurai, and weaves the most captivating fantasy adventure I've read in a while. I was sorry when the book got over and will move heaven and earth (and PayPal) to acquire the remaining volumes of the Tomoe Gozen saga.

For me, this
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Jennifer
Jan 07, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised at the historical accuracy lurking in the mythological setting of Tomoe Gozen. While the work itself is fictitious, an actual Tomoe Gozen was an onna-bugeisha (female warrior) in the 12 century. This strong female lead is a surprisingly dynamic character and the plot never thins or wavers too long on one grand mission, but powers quickly onward to the next. It is exciting, emotional, compelling, and often pleasantly surprising and will surely please the reader.
Rindis
Sep 03, 2016 Rindis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, kindle
The very beginning of The Disfavored Hero directly states that this is an alternate Japan (Naipon) where myth is real. This is something that should never be said in a novel. Let your creation stand on its own feet, and show us what you're doing.

Thankfully, after that little hiccup, the rest of the book is very good. It's broken into three parts (without any shorter chapters), that are practically separate novellas. Each one has its own set of secondary characters, its own plot with solid beginn
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Scarlett Fu
Oct 26, 2013 Scarlett Fu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the land of the Magic Nation, from mortals to immortals, samurai and yokai, Tomoe Gozen is a novel which encapsulates both fact and fiction to create a gripping read.

Salmonson's writing rings true to the culture of ancient Japan, and bringing the culture to a more personal level. The story revolves around the onna bugeisha Tomoe Gozen, a prominent female samurai during 12th-century Japan, breaking bushido, and her journey to regaining her name as a favoured hero. Not to mention, it was writt
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Sean
Apr 08, 2015 Sean rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: ARC copy from Netgalley.

The Disfavored Hero, by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, is an interesting book. This book is a twist on a traditional Japanese story. It twists traditional Nippon and recreates it with demons and spirits, for real. This new land is called Naipon. This is the first book in the Tomoe Gozen Saga, and reads like a traditional Japanese saga. The characters espouse traditional Japanese virtues. Many things that would make no sense to Westerners make perfect sense to Jape
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bkwurm
Jan 19, 2016 bkwurm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book in a second hand bookstore many many years ago but being an impoverished student, didn't have the funds to purchase it. But for some reason, I never forgot it and have always been on the lookout for it. But it was out of print and no new physical copies were ever available.

And then I got my kindle.

Set in an alternate fantasy Japan, called Naipon, it follows the adventures of a female samurai called Tomoe Gozen, who is an actual real life individual who lived and fought d
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James Debruicker
Doubly rare, a female pulp fantasy author with a female protagonist. Salmonson manages to capture the whole "something is beautiful because it's going to die alone" thing.
GONZA
Apr 04, 2015 GONZA rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was not a bad saga with all that involves japan tradition: demons big animals, hell and samurais, but still I was very upset that Netgalley sent me 2 books out of three. If you love old times Japan and the stories of the Samurai and the ghosts, these books are for you.

Non é stata una brutta saga, che comprendeva tutto il tipico folklore giapponese: demoni nella forma di animali giganti, l'inferno ed i samurai, ma allafine ero piuttosto scocciata dal fatto che Netgalley mi abbia mandato solo d
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Kaila
I am so happy I discovered the list of Non-European Fantasy by Women and made it a goal to read as many on the list as possible (hence the shelf name). So far it has been full of absolute gems, and this book is no exception.

The first 50 pages read like a level in Dynasty Warriors. I was so pumped up and wanted Tomoe Gozen to keep on fighting. It was rad. Of course, like all good samurai stories, it is not the fighting that is the center point, but some point of revenge or honor. It was kind of a
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Alyssa Yenco
Jan 12, 2016 Alyssa Yenco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


The Disfavored Hero, by Jessica Salmonson, is a twist on a classic Japanese story. The author brings a small town with a real samurai and demons together to produce one vibrant adventure. Although it has strange ideas, this novel is immersed in Japanese culture. The book is very well executed and is an easy read. The author has given information historical and fictional points, which creates a better variety of people to enjoy this reading.
Harley
May 21, 2016 Harley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book because it was set in Japan. I found the first part a bit too violent. Fortunately, the book improved as the main character, Tomoe Gozen, continued on her journey and her search for redemption. For me, this was an highly unbelievable fantasy where the rules of the fantasy world kept changing. Nothing is as it appears. A wild fantasy within a fantasy.
Ann Guillory
Sep 16, 2014 Ann Guillory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone interested in Japanese history or mythology should read this book. It has an epic feel to it, and is the sort of book you want to read all at once to find out what happens, and slowly, so you can savour the scope of the author's vision. The world Salmonson invents is rich, with the epic quality usually associated with ancient sagas or folklore.
Fugen
Mar 01, 2014 Fugen rated it really liked it
Exciting book with lovely illustrations. But alas I am biased for I know the illustrator, Wendy Wees, and am a huge fan of her work.
Mark
Nov 18, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book. It starts off with a unique twist and keeps going. This book is broken into 3 sections and an epilogue as opposed to chapters. It felt to me like three short stories about Tomoe Gozen that tie together in the end.

Jessica Amanda Salmonson's characters are flawed, intriguing, and complex.

I will say that this book is pretty violent. It wasn't bad violence, I just wasn't expecting it. Just letting you know.

I think this was a great book and I bought the next two volumes in t
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Sheila
Feb 02, 2013 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of my all-time favorite fantasy books- not because it's a strong female protagonist in a really fascinating and well-researched world that's very different from the generic "medieval" fantasy worlds- -although all that's a huge bonus.
Mostly I enjoyed the story line about treachery, love, duty and friendship, coming to terms with a broken future as Tomoe Gozen wanders through magical Japan, meeting and offering glimpses into the lives of samurai, peasants, river monsters and minor d
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Mark Kreider
Jun 14, 2007 Mark Kreider rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fantasy in mythical Japan. Despite some flaws in pacing, including one early on that made me almost give up on the book unfinished, Tomoe Gozen and two volumes following it in the trilogy, The Golden Naginata and Thousand Shrine Warrior, are among my favorite fantasy novels, written in a unique voice that captures the flavor of the fictional world vividly. Samauri, ninja, blood, swords, more blood, crazy monsters, romance, duels of honor, more blood.
Fiannawolf
May 15, 2015 Fiannawolf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually don't read as much fantasy as I used to but this hit the right mix of setting, characters and story line to keep me entertained. Will definitely look into getting the other books.
Alma
Nov 02, 2009 Alma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tomoe is a samurai who slices first and asks questions later. "Gotta" love a woman with a temperament! Immerse yourself in a foreign,exotic and strange locale where you'll run into the familiar concepts of honor and what it means to stand for an ideal. Sequels: THE GOLDEN NAGINATA & A THOUSAND SHRINE WARRIOR
Kanawinkie
Jul 27, 2007 Kanawinkie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in epic high fantasy
Shelves: worth-owning
Written in a fantasy historic Japan, Tomoe Gozen is one of my favorite fantasy reads.

Jessica Salmonson does a very good job blending real historic Japan with the stuff of legends where demons and magic are real to tell an elaborate story about a very strong, intelligent female samurai.

Douglas
Apr 05, 2015 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. A fascinating medieval fantasy tale set in a mythological variant of Japan. Interesting characters and epic moments abound.
Danielle
Nothing but action scene after action scene. Barely a coherent plot. Maybe it would've smoothed out eventually, but I just could get that far.
Keith Slade
Good samurai / fantasy story.
Anne-Nary Saing
May 28, 2013 Anne-Nary Saing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing
Morgan Bowen
Morgan Bowen marked it as to-read
Sep 30, 2016
William Maynard
William Maynard rated it did not like it
Sep 28, 2016
John somers
John somers marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2016
John Muñoz
John Muñoz marked it as to-read
Sep 23, 2016
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