Kathy Russo's Reviews > Spirit's Princess

Spirit's Princess by Esther M. Friesner
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Apr 22, 12

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Read in April, 2012

First off…I have two ratings for this books, as such this review will be divided into two sections.

The “official” rating, in which I took into account the novel as a reader that did not know any history or background on the subject matter; and then the rating from a history-buff’s POV.

Official rating: 3.5/5 stars
History-Buff rating: 1.5/5 stars

Freisner’s previous books have all been a joy to read, albeit some historical mistakes, but nevertheless enjoyable. Spirit’s Princess is in the same boat, except far more historical inaccuracies.

Nevertheless, simply reading the book for fun and not taking into account the mistakes, or even better if you didn’t even recognize any, this book is quite the fun read.

The characters were also pretty good.
Himiko, the protagonist, was very likable. She's a tough heroine just as all of Friesner's characters have been before her. The novel allowed me to truly get inside her head and how she viewed the world around her. Himiko was independent, sometimes a little too independent but I liked her spark.
I also really liked Lady Yama, the shaman, she was truly a teacher and inspiration to Himiko and I loved the interactions between the two.
I also loved the personalities that were given to Himiko's family, her mother and step-mothers and her father, as well as her three brothers; they were fantastic.

The writing was great, the characters were really enjoyable, and the pacing and plot was great.
I really enjoyed the part where Himiko has a dream with the “Prince.” Looking forward to seeing more of him in the next installment.


Going into the things that irked me to no end, as a history-buff, but most likely won’t affect the majority of readers…

Let’s start off with the names…
Friesner used names that are far more conversant with modern—Meiji Era/1868+—Japanese names, since this takes palce within the Yayoi era. Himiko—Some Historians believe that her name was actually “Pimiko”, but even I agree with then fact that she’s more commonly known as Himiko—, if she truly existed, would have family members with names like Yamatohime-no-mikoto or Ooyamatonekohikofutoni-no-Mikoto, not merely “Masa” or “Aki”. I understand the significance or shortening the names within novels, but if anything, the full-length names should have been included, instead of simply substituting them with modern names. Even Himiko’s name was documented as Yamatototohimomosohime [倭迹迹日百襲媛命], but also documented as shorted to H/Pimiko. Since this was supposed to be based within the era, I was disappointed with the lack of thought into the names and accuracy of those that were documented.

With the setting:
As I said earlier, the story of Himiko takes place within the Yayoi era, which is 300BCE to 300CE. At the time the location of the fabled Himiko’s residence, was the kingdom of Wa, as known by the Chinese or Yamataikoku.
There were clans at the time period,but there was also an intricate royal court system, in which Himiko managed to rise to power.
Regardless of the fact that very little is known about Himiko, if she even existed in fact, she would have also been raised within the royal complex or an aristocratic family in order to marry into the royal family. She was related to one of the Emperors, which undoubtedly had her placed within a stricter rule of control. Friesner has Himiko and her family as a nomadic clan, which is far from the truth.

Going on the basis that Himiko was royalty, she would have been raised and reared as a proper lady, and constantly watched, to ensure that she would marry and produce heirs.
There would have been no tenuous physical activities, no tree climbing or hunting that she does so within the novel. She would have had to have been far more docile with members of the male sex, regardless of the fact if they were her family or not.
Her clothes would have been finer, not the dirty tunics as mentioned by this Himiko’s POV from the get-go, due to not only the fact that she was a lady, but due to the fact that so much time and effort was put into the creation of just one set of clothes for her to wear.

The only reason I had trouble reading this, was due to the fact that I am well informed of the history in which the book takes place in. If I was reading this without this knowledge, then I would have truly enjoyed this book far more.

However, having said all that let me truly emphasize that Spirit’s Princess was really an intriguing, fun read and I'll be reading the sequel, but this time I’ll be prepared for it.

If you like Friesner’s other works, you’ll love this one, and if you like historical fiction—but do not truly know the era, or can overlook the inconsistencies—then you will enjoy this.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review
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