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The Beast Player

(The Beast Player #1-2)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  698 ratings  ·  183 reviews
In epic YA fantasy about a girl with a special power to communicate with magical beasts and the warring kingdom only she can save.

Elin's family has an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom's army. So when some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin's mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With he
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Pushkin Press (first published November 21st 2006)
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Becky B There are four books in the original Japanese series.

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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  698 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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Rebecca Boylan
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really can't convey how breathtakingly beautiful this story is.

This follows a young girl from the age of 10 to 18 as she learns about a world she spent most of her life sheltered from and the beasts who inhabit it.

If you love Studio Ghibli, you will love this book.
If you want a culturally rich young adult fantasy, ripe with Japanese mythology, you will love this book.
If you love animals, you will love this book.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The thing that all creatures share in is not love. It is fear.

This is one of those books that broke all the "rules" and somehow made magic. For a fantasy novel, it is more character-based than your usual sword and dragon novel. Beast Player begins with a prologue that I don't think was really a prologue. I have certain expectations for prologue: that it will divulge pertinent world-building or take place years before the actual story events, or it will feature a narrator who only appears in the novel thi
"The Beast Player", by Nahoko Uehashi is a fantasy tale ,translated from the Japanese version with a very different kind of world building and storyline also.The original was titled "Kimona No Soja " and published as four volumes from 2006 to 2009.The series was so popular that it has been adapted into a Manga version and also an anime series on Japanese Television
Nahoko Uehashi ,is in fact a famous teen fiction writer in Japan and is also famous for the "Moriboto " series of books.
Jay G
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel:

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

In this world, giant water serpents called Toda are trained to fight in the royal army and protect the country's border. The defending kingdom is protected by giant bird like creatures they call the Royal Beasts. Neither country realizes the suffering they cause these animals. A young girl named Elin is orphaned at the age of 10 when her mothe
Allison Tebo
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Femke (booksfemme)
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
100% a new all time favourite. will review properly later!
♠️ TABI ♠️
oof yes please give me all the Japanese-inspired YA always
Blodeuedd Finland
I enjoyed this one. Wow, was it actually almost 15 hours? It did not feel like that, I listened to it really quickly.

It follows Elin, whose mother is killed at the beginning when the serpents under her care die. (yes aholes much!) The rest of Elin's family is nothing to have and she is sent away.

There was a lot of bee talk. Complicated creatures. But I liked it, Elin is 10 and she needed something stable. I liked her time there. Will say no more.

Then there is
Jaded Reader
Review to come!
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
4.75 Stars for reasons I’ll get into.

Okay, things to know. My brother, who is pretty good at Japanese (not just saying, he passed the top JLPT, so it’s kinda hard to test him further) read the first volume of this, has the second, and watched the anime of this (I think it’s under the title “Beast Player Erin”), so he knows the basic plot when I discussed it with him. This appears to be the complete story and not just volume 1 of the first book of the Japanese volumes. At the very least,
"Tears are the soup of sorrow. The more tears you shed, the more they will wash away your grief. Eventually you'll be able to forget what caused you so much pain."

The Beast Player is an extraordinary tale that follows a young girl named Elin who has the uncanny ability to work with animals that have been deemed dangerous and un-tameable. We first meet her at a very young age at a pivotal moment in her life. Her mother has been sentenced to death after losing a herd of Toda (giant worm like things that I/>

Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an epic Japanese fantasy about a girl who doesn't quite fit in.
Her adventure starts, when she discovers her mother has a special ability and can communicate with animals.

I'm so conflicted about this book.
On the one hand, it was very unique, with well developed characters, a gripping plotline and the writing was beautiful.

On the other hand, the info dumping really bugged me...
I understand that it was all extremely relevant information, but it just didn't hol
Originally, The Beast Player was published in Japan under 4 volumes. This version is a single volume, and while I enjoyed the first two thirds or so, the ending happens suddenly and the tone dramatically shifts. The first parts are a heartwarming veterinary fantasy. I don't know why there aren't more veterinary fantasy! Elin loves animals, and observing nature, and is eventually accepted into a prestigious veterinary school to take care of fantasy animals. I'm pretty sure everyone loves fantasy ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seriously, sooo good!
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Rachael Marie
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh gosh - It makes me so sad to say this.

I didn't like this at all, and DNF'd it. This was buddy read with Average Joe Reads, who soldiered through and was relieved when it was over.

This book isn't great as an introduction to Japanese Literature, however if you are a fan of Studio Ghibli then you may love this. Some of my best friends adored this and they are well-versed in Japanese and Asian Literature.

Somethings I liked:
🌹 Unique Concept
🌹True to Japane
Viv JM
I really enjoyed this YA epic fantasy. Maybe not that ground breaking, but an immersive read with an interesting female lead. Just what I was in the mood for and I look forward to further installments.
Caylynn Bleess
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nope. Not a fan. Gonna stew in my disappointment and appalled thoughts for a few hours before writing my review.
I have to strongly recommend this book to everyone--but only for selfish reasons. This is the first book in a finished tetralogy, but the only book so far that has been translated into English. I'd previously read two books in the author's Moribito series (Only 2 of the 10 books in that series were translated before the translation effort stopped or at least stalled). Unlike that series, this book doesn't stand alone well. Frankly, most of the book is slow paced set up for events that begin to u ...more
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am in awe of this incredible book, & to know this is just the start of a series makes me want to weep with joy. Uehashi has created such an incredible world & story, that I no longer have any need of the real world. I have no more words, this book was perfect.

This is now sharing the place of my favourite book with Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott.

I was sent a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Trigger Warnings: this book contains mild gore & racism dire/>I
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
You can see my full non spoiler review on BookTube

I stood on the edge of that abyss between man and beast and played my harp for you, checking each note, one by one, to see if it would reach you.

The Beast Player is the story of Elin and her bond with Beasts. For years the law between man and Beasts is simple, they will never be loyal to us, they will never be tamed, they will always be wild.

This book went completely in a different direction to where I thought it would go, I expect/>I
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once you’re past the YA age range, it gets tougher and tougher to enjoy books set in that genre. As someone who grew up reading YA fantasy and dystopian novels, it’s very close to my heart. And I was especially happy that The Beast Player helped me remember the feeling again.

The Beast Player is a story about how young Elin gets involved in the caring of the Royal Beasts after the execution of her mother in a horrific manner. The story is told through points of views of multiple chara
Tzu-Mainn Chen
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had difficulties getting into "The Beast Player" at first. The prologue read like a Generic Tragic Origin Story, detailing the horrible circumstances under which our future protagonist comes to be orphaned.

Then you get fifty pages about beekeeping. And I fell in love with the story of the growth of a remarkable child, curious and quiet and determined as she embraces her kinship with animals. As she grows to adulthood, this kinship is noted by nefarious players in a burgeoning civil
Najwa Warraich
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved how beautiful this book was. It was super atmospheric, well-written and a book that shows the beauty of animals. I cried, I laughed and I fangirled reading this. One thing I loved about it was how descriptive it was with the usage of minimal language. It wasn't overly descriptive and attempting to write in this flowery way. Another thing I loved was seeing the relationship between the different characters and also the relationship between Leelan and Elin. As someone who also has a ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the story and the characters, I thought their motives were very human. I loved the commentary about the choices that we are forced to make and the choices we make for others. I really wish this book was more popular in the book community and in regards to BookTube :)
Kyra (Blog of a Bookaholic)
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I was browsing my library’s YA shelves, my eyes were drawn to a brand-new addition to the shelves that had gorgeous, colourful cover. Never having heard of the title before (which is rare thanks to all the exposure titles are given in the book blogging community), I picked it up and was immediately intrigued. I read the first couple of pages and knew I needed to read the rest of this book. The Beast Player is a unique, sentimental, richly layered fantasy novel celebrating its Japanese heritag ...more
Rich in Color
Review Copy: ARC from publisher

I am so glad that more international YA books are being translated for an American audience. Many American books are sold overseas, but we do not receive in the same amount that we send out, so I’m glad that this imbalance is slowly changing. It’s why I was excited to read “The Beast Player” as I’ve never read Japanese fantasy from an Japanese author, and honestly, I am the better for it.

I’ve only recently come into really reading fantasy,
Crossroads Library
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 4.25 stars

It was a struggle to get into this book, but it took off once I powered through the more introductory type chapters. Translated works are usually pretty iffy for me - tone is an important part of a novel for me, and sometimes translations end up feeling robotic. This was the case a little for The Beast Player, but it’s still one of the better translated books I’ve ever read. And the plot more than made up for the slightly stilted dialogue.

This book dealt wit
Kelli Cross
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 4.25 stars

It was a struggle to get into this book. Translated works are usually pretty iffy for me - tone is an important part of a novel for me, and sometimes translations end up feeling robotic. This was the case a little for The Beast Player, but it’s still one of the better translated books I’ve ever read. And the plot more than made up for the slightly stilted dialogue.

This book dealt with ethics, I guess you could say. What animals are capable of, what rights th
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, animals
This book is full of tropes I love:

1. Companion animals, and thoughts about the ethics of taming wild animal
2. One amazing girl who's the only one who can tame the pony the magical flying wolf
4. Extremely intricate depictions of animal husbandry, including bees
5. Girl/companion animal soul bonds

It's a pretty silly book, and there are various really clunky parts full of info-dumping, but it really hit a lot of my favourite notes,
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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.

Other books in the series

The Beast Player (4 books)
  • 獣の奏者 1 闘蛇編
  • 獣の奏者 2 王獣編
  • 獣の奏者 3 探求編
  • 獣の奏者 4 完結編
“I stood on the edge of that abyss between man and beast and played my harp for you, checking each note, one by one, to see if it would reach you.” 2 likes
“The knowledge we teach is simply the truth as we know it at a particular time. What we believe to be true now may be exposed as error through the discoveries of succeeding generations. That’s how human knowledge has been renewed throughout the ages. Remind your students of this every chance you get. “A good teacher is not one who never doubts, but rather one who strives to keep on learning despite the doubts in her mind. At least, that’s what I think.” 1 likes
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