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Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Moribito #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,790 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
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.

Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river -- and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy -- the Princ
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published 1996)
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Hop-Step-Then-Fall I think no...these stories (12 books) are written from 1996 and finished in 2012, but there are English translations of only book 1 and 2. And also I…moreI think no...these stories (12 books) are written from 1996 and finished in 2012, but there are English translations of only book 1 and 2. And also I could find only 1 and 2 even manga in Japanese. I loves the stories given by Nahoko Uehashi, but still, Japanese fantasy don't seem to be so good to be populer in other country... In Japan, the drama started 2 weeks ago.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 09, 2012 Cyna rated it liked it
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-
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 kin
May 31, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Betsy by: Cheryl Klein
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 woul ...more
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 ...more
Shira Glassman
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,
Jul 08, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing
This is an international book that has been translated from Japanese to English, but doesn't miss a beat with the translation. After Balsa saves the young prince from drowning in a river, his mother the Second Queen, hires Balsa to protect Chagum, the 11-year-old prince. She fears his life is in danger because of a spirit that lives inside him. Balsa agrees to protect the child from his father the Mikado, and the dangerous spirit hunter Rarunga. As the pair narrowly escape danger at every turn w ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Mery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mery by: Luqman Hakim
Shelves: punya
Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, judulnya keren. Penjaga Roh. Moribito kalau bahasa Yogonya.

Baca ini membuat kita terlempar dalam dunia yang dibuat oleh imajinasi Nahoko Uehashi. Dunia yang melibatkan Jepang dan mitos-mitos kunonya. Dunia yang isinya ada pendekar wanita, kerajaan kecil, dan para penafsir bintang.

Suatu tempat pada abad pertengahan, bernama New Yogo, kerajaan baru yang muncul ketika seorang raja muda bernama Tarugaru datang ke tempat itu membangun kerajaannya sendiri dengan bimbinga
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2016 Puggleby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

If I was asked to sum up what I thought of this book in two words those words would be: simply beautiful. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is a unique and magical story that takes a bit of influence from early Asian cultures. Though it's regarded as a childrens story I found this book something I think would be enjoyable by all ages.
Starting off I have to admit that my interest in this book began after watching the animated series. (Which is equally as lovely if you ever get the chance to watch
Patrick Kelly
Soon after the spear-wielding bodyguard Balsa rescues Prince Chagum from drowning in a raging river, she is sent on a mission to protect the Prince from his father's hunters. Chagum's father, ruler of New Yogo, believes his son is inhabited by the embryo of a creature which, if it hatches, will causes catastrophic flooding in his empire. On the contrary, however, the egg that resides in Chagum is that of a water spirit that will save the kingdom if Chagum lives to see it born--if Balsa can prote ...more
For a reader in late grade school or junior high, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit deserves more than three stars. It's written in the calmest, most matter of fact prose I've read in ages, with a lovely bedtime story feel. The characters are excellent, and though Balsa, the hard-nosed but sensitive mercenary in her thirties was the most interestingly atypical character for a children's book, Chagum's coming of age story was incredibly believable and well told, despite its supernatural trappings. ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it
This is the first of 12 books in a series by Japanese author Nahoko Uehashi. In this first episode, a guard-for-hire named Balsa ends up being hired as Prince Chagum's body guard after she saves him from a river. Chagum is no ordinary prince though. His father wants him dead because he believes Chagnum is possessed by a water demon that will cause a catastrophic drought. Turns out that Chagum is host to a water spirit's egg and a catastrophic drought will occur if Chagum dies. But of course, no ...more
I'm a bit torn on this one.

On one hand, the characters were really good. There weren't any I disliked, and I really liked Torogai and Balsa.

On the other hand, the story felt extremely rushed and maybe that's why I didn't have a chance to dislike anyone in it.

Part of this is because this is ultimately a middle-grade book. The storytelling is short and concise, but perhaps a bit too much so for an older reader. There were parts I wish more time was spent on. On the bright side, I never felt that t
My friend recommended this, since i got this book with great price so i think why not.
Its very refreshing to read new genre after overloaded with western supernatural, fantasy or scifi novel, first i love how the author setting the main character a tough lady who can fighting well but still look soft and care toward everyone, but she is not perfect either and that made her more human and relateable to reader.

First read the prolog, even this book setting is a fantasy world you will know that this
Traci Loudin
May 14, 2016 Traci Loudin added it
Recommends it for: fans of Japanese culture, fans of secondary-world fantasy
This was a great story about a warrior/bodyguard who is given an impossible mission to save the prince from an otherworldly predator. The prince turns out to be the Moribito, or guardian of an egg that spawns once a century. What I liked about this story was that it wasn't a "save the world" story. The characters were aware that although their mission was bigger than any one of them, it was only important to their area of the island. I haven't read many books where the characters are that... non ...more
Oct 26, 2011 Novia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about Moribito from L’Arc~en~Ciel, their song entitled Shine was used as the opening song for the anime version of this book. When I saw the opening, I wasn’t impressed with it and decided not to look for the anime. Last year, a friend of mine (used to be my co work) told me that Seirei no Moribito (the title of the anime as well as the book) was awesome. I became more intrigued after reading the anime review by Kelly of The Gallery of Words.

On July 2011, I was visiting a book sale
L11_Nick Mamula
Feb 21, 2011 L11_Nick Mamula rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
The themes in this book and the way in which they are presented are both powerful and wise. To start, the way in which Uehashi attacks gender roles in society is superb. Instead of relying on the males to represent the strength and power, Uehashi taps into the true power of the female. Throughout the story, it is the women who are subtly the wisest and the most brave. In addition to the gender issue, Uehashi makes sure to tap into ideas of moderation, and the importance of not being "more or les ...more
May 16, 2012 A_Esther rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Moribito is a high fantasy tale with subtle hints of heroic romance. From the very first pages, the reader literally dives in with Balsa, a 30 year old spear wielding bodyguard for hire, who jumps off a cliff into dark waters below to save a young prince. Balsa is strong, courageous, observant, and a formidable warrior. But Balsa is also a commoner in a foreign land and a woman. Her reward for saving the young prince is a plea from his mother, the second queen, to protect his life from assassins ...more
Eva Mitnick
Sep 20, 2008 Eva Mitnick rated it really liked it
Balsa, a woman warrior and bodyguard, is no shrinking violet, and she’s no spring chicken either. I knew I would like her when I read this description – “Her long, weather-beaten hair was tied at the nape of her neck, and her face, unadorned by makeup, was tanned and beginning to show fine wrinkles.” Brave, sensible, and superbly skilled in martial arts, Balsa is 30 years old – a refreshing age for the heroine of a children’s book, when they usually haven’t hit 18.

Oh, there’s a child in this boo
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
May 13, 2008 Roxanne Hsu Feldman rated it it was amazing
I think this one hovers just about 4.5 stars... not exactly perfect, but so so so good. So much about it I can praise:

It's a book that I can feel entirely enthusiastic about recommending to children who look for fast-paced and action packed stories with magic.

It's a book that features unusual characters: the protagonist is a 30-year-old warrior woman who wields a spear with great skills and who has a rich back story and an intriguing future story to look forward to.

It does not alter its sensibil
Oct 05, 2009 Peter rated it really liked it
Guardian of the Spirit is the first book in a popular ten-book Moribito series of novels by Nahoko Uehashi. The fantasy stories are set in far-away lands long ago, with warriors, magicians, and magical creatures. The best reason to read these books, however, is for the main character. Balsa is a female body-guard who was forced to train at an early age after her father was killed. She's smart and clever, and a very strong and entertaining female character. In this book she is forced to protect a ...more
Anggia Retno
Nov 18, 2009 Anggia Retno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Balsa seorang jagoan bersenjatakan tombak, menyelamatkan Chagum seorang pangeran kerajaan Yogo.
Dari situ Balsa menjadi terlibat berbagai petualangan demi menyelamatkan nyawa sang pangeran yang diincar berbagai pihak

Moribito, penjaga roh... Di tubuh Chagum bersemayam roh Nyunga Ro Im, yang kehancurannya dapat membawa kehancuran hidup penduduk seluruh kerajaan
Chagum harus berusaha menyelamatkan roh tersebut, sementara nyawanya sendiri terancam akibat kehandiran Nyunga Ro Im di tubuhnya
Mulai dari
Apr 07, 2011 Jacob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yong-adoolt
For Balsa, life is a process of penitence earned through fighting. When she meets a boy with a special burden, she finds not only a kindred spirit but a way to repay her debts. In protecting this boy prince, she must fight Emporers and magical creatures. Will she fail on her own, or will others strengthen her ability?

This is a very basic storyline filled with very basic characters. That does not mean it is bad; but it means that it is not entirely surprising or engrossing. Those who enjoy fantas
Aug 08, 2012 Destyni rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful work, and an amazing translation. I love the characters; all of them, even minor characters, had a part to play and it all came together so well at the end. Every character felt so human; imperfect, but learning and progressing throughout the story. The writer does an excellent job at portraying various personalities and perspectives in an unbiased fashion; they were all so unique. I can't describe how much I appreciated that!

I love the fact that the culture did not get wash
Mar 03, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
What a gem of a book. Maribito is the story of a female body guard, Balsa< that is tasked with the job of protecting a young prince that is trying to be assassinated by his own father. During the book it is discovered that the prince, Chagum, was given a special gift a long the way and thus Balsa's job increases in difficulty. As you read this wonderfully woven tale through the country of New Yogo the visuals will amaze you and the level of detail will astound. The author, Nahoko Uehasi, take ...more
Nov 06, 2011 528_Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-international
Summary: Moribito is an action packed fantasy novel involving, martial arts, sword fighting, myths, and an unlikely hero. The novel has 9 sequels, has been made into a movie, and even has a comic book and radio drama. Set in ancient Japan, the novel is about Balsa, a 30 year old, who is assigned the job of protecting the young prince who is the subject of a century year old myth about the water demon. She is being hunted by the king's men and has to struggle to solve the mystery and save the boy ...more
This was very enjoyable. It's a YA, but, surprisingly, the heroine wasn't a teen supergirl but a woman of thirty, an itinerant warrior/bodyguard. Pure competency porn! The ensemble cast worked together well. The narrative itself felt quite straightforward, but there were bits or beautiful, lyrical writing.
Oct 13, 2008 Joy rated it really liked it
A very solid fantasy adventure about Balsa, a bodyguard who ends up becoming the protector of a young prince when political forces seek his death. It's so unusual to see a middle-aged woman as the hero of this sort of adventure, and Balsa is awesome: brave, and pragmatic, and fiercely loyal. The story also has a lot of interesting worldbuilding: the land where it takes place is one where the colonized and colonizers live side-by-side, and the heart of the story lies as much in the characters' at ...more
Oct 31, 2011 Crista rated it really liked it
Shelves: international
2009 Batchelder Award Winner

Set in a world created by the author, this is a fascinating story of a strong and determined female and her weak, but improving, young charge.

This is the first installment of this series and at the end; you are ready for the next one. I loved how the illustrations in the beginning of each part foreshadowed how that part would end. That is a great stopping point for students to try to predict what will happen.

Older students would be better apt to understand the mythi
Laura Baugh
Feb 10, 2009 Laura Baugh rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy, alternate realities, dual universes
Shelves: fiction
Oddly enough, I enjoyed the anime more than I did the book. The anime (Seirei no Moribito) devoted a full season to just the first book of the series, and I think that was what made the difference -- parts of the book feel rushed and incomplete, after I have seen a more fully developed visual script.

Still, I like the premise and without the book, the anime would not have been made. And I have a guess that some of the richer development in the anime came from later volumes in the novel series. St
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Nahoko Uehashi is the author of ten books in the Moribito series, which have sold more than a million copies and won many major literary awards in her native Japan. An associate professor at a Japanese university, she has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and studies indigenous peoples in Australia. She lives near Tokyo, Japan.
More about Nahoko Uehashi...

Other Books in the Series

Moribito (10 books)
  • Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito, #2)
  • 夢の守り人
  • 虚空の旅人
  • 神の守り人 来訪編
  • 神の守り人 帰還編
  • 蒼路の旅人
  • 天と地の守り人 第一部 ロタ王国編
  • 天と地の守り人 第二部 カンバル王国編
  • 天と地の守り人 第三部 新ヨゴ皇国編

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“I know what the world is like. Nobody does anything unless there's something in it for themselves. But there are some people who do more than they have to for what they get in return, and those people are kind right to the heart.” 15 likes
“No matter where you go, you'll find that people in high positions like to make themselves look good. A general, for example, must always be a hero, because who will respect him if he is a coward? I've traveled to many countries and heard many stories, and a victory in battle is always the general's, even when it's won by the hard work of ordinary soldiers. And when time passes, these stories often develop into legends.” 8 likes
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