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The Leopard Mask

(The Guin Saga #1)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The Guin Saga is epic heroic fantasy in the smae vein as Robert E. Howard's Conan, the Barbarian. More than a hundred books strong and growing, the saga has sold more than twenty-five million copies in Japan. Vertical will publish the first five installments that comprise "The Marches Episode" arc.

In a single day and night of fierce fighting, the Archduchy of Mongaul has
Hardcover, 231 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Vertical (first published September 29th 1979)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  263 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Jan 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
(I read this book in the original Japanese, so I can't speak to the quality of the English translation.)

This is the first volume in a 130+ volume series of Japanese heroic fantasy. The series began in 1979, ending prematurely with the author's death of pancreatic cancer in 2009. Although Kurimoto herself was influenced by classic English-language sword & sorcery writers (Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, and Clark Ashton Smith are some of the mentioned in the book's afterword), her own long-runni
Ανδρέας Μιχαηλίδης
Although I love the Guin universe (what little we have access to in a language other than Japanese), and this is the first volume in the great saga penned by Kurimoto up until her death, I must say the novel form, or possibly its translation, make it a somewhat tedious read.

Although the story (even more so as adapted in the anime) is epic fantasy of the highest order, combining themes from multiple cultures and genres, I find something lacking in the written word of the printed version.

I would s
Edward Butler
If you read only one book this year about a man who wakes up in the middle of a forest with amnesia and a leopard mask magically fused to his head which gives him the senses and fighting prowess of the animal, this ought to be the one!

Un buon inizio per questa saga, getta delle interessanti premesse.
Il libro è scorrevole, ma alcune volte è un tantino retorico, specialmente quando Rinda (una dei protagonisti) rimprovera il fratello Remus. Ecco, in questo caso i dialoghi hanno il sapore dello "spiegone". Che senso ha che parlino come se non sapessero le cose, quando ovviamente le sanno, solo per trasmetterle al lettore? Avrei apprezzato un modo più naturale di descrivere l'ambientazione, senza frasi del tipo "Ma non ricordi dov
May 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
Absolutely horrible. I wish I could give this zero stars in order to illustrate how awful it is. Paper dolls have more depth than the characters in this novel, and are generally less annoying, show motivation, and are more interesting. I wanted everyone to die, quickly, so that the torture of reading this thing would be over sooner, but no such kindness was given to the reader. Instead, the damned thing ends on a cliffhanger. Maybe I'd angry about that if the author hadn't made damned sure I wou ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Keep in mind that 1) I don't really like heroic fantasy and 2) I think a lot of my issues might have been with this translation.

I can handle the plot being... kind of meh and repetitive and boring and a chance for Guin to flex his muscles. What drove me up the wall was the purple prose. And I guess heroic fantasy has to have a little purple prose, but this just was too much, piled too high. To make matters worse, the dialogue was full of purple prose, meaning it was all stilted and awkward and..
Mario Ebbwa
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
This isn't a terrible read by any means and the author is indeed talented. But what really annoys me about a lot of books is "length for the sake of length". Now I know this book isn't very long but the problem is its story could have been told in 50 pages. Not enough happens in this book and I was really annoyed when I read the ending. I understand why people like it but I just couldn't get past how slow paced it was.
Tasha Robinson
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
It's an interesting thing, picking up the first book in a series while knowing you unquestionably will never finish that series. This is the first novel of a series that runs to more than 130 novels, and was still never finished. It opens with a lot of mysteries — how did the warrior Guin end up with a leopard mask permanently affixed to his face? How did the magically gifted twin children of Parros escape the massacre that claimed their familes? How many times will the author remind us that Gui ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2

I really great start to a fantasy series. A good mix of pulp and epic fantasy. The characters could easily be stock characters but there is a spark to each that lets them stand out. I will be checking out the rest of the series for sure.
Primo della lunghissima serie. E quindi ora inizierà la rincorsa a recuperare tutto. Libro che si legge una meraviglia, avventuroso, misterioso, fantasy e praticamente con tutti i punti lasciati aperti!
Harue Jules
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This 130-book series was a phenomenon in Japan in the mid-1980s, I am told. And I have just gotten started.

It is a wonderful fantasy tale - and the main characters are many.
Mary Wyman
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to
Enjoy :)
Serena Santoro
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bello, forse un po' troppo corto quindi lascia un sacco di domande in sospeso. Consigliato come lettura da ombrellone
Ashley Downey
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
quite an interesting read. got the first 5 books of this in a bundle and started to read them. I find the world the author created intriguing. If you like dark fantasy then give it a try.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Book  Minx
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: speculative
Definite potential but a few annoying things, especially making such a big deal about the twins' age and being on the cusp of adulthood at the beginning and then referring to them as little children for the rest of the story.
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I'm not much of a traditional heroic fantasy fan and The Leopard Mask, the first installment of The Guin Saga (now at 124 novels), won't be changing my habits. This is a rather uninspiring tale of two twins (Remus and Rinda) whose kingdom has fallen to an evil army and who are now trying to stay alive among all of the ghouls, demons, and other nasties who live in the marches. They are saved by an intriguing amnesic warrior (Guin) who, for some unknown reas
Beautifully raw in its description, and clever in its arrangement of lands of mythos, GUIN SAGA should have a lot going for it. But it doesn't.

The novel's approach to ancient and mythological encounters of beings human and fey is fascinating and dramatic -- denizens of both realms fear one another, and with good reason. However, this setting is home to little substantive character building. To wit, nothing really happens. Children escape a mutinous riot, an amnesiac warrior rescues them, and tha
Sep 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, translated
Meh...stereotypical high fantasy sort of thing, which is not bad in of itself. What makes it bad is that the writing is flat and relies heavily on telling you that things are so, rather than convincing you of it. For example, it will go on and on saying that the doode was fearsome!! So scary! Monstrous beast man!!! But like...he's just a big muscle-y guy with a leopard mask on, like a wrestler or something. Likewise, the forest is scary because it is scary! Etc....after awhile, I couldn't really ...more
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of fantasy/adventure
Shelves: light-novel
I just happened to find this book by chance while looking around online and decided to give it a try. After all, if over 30 years and 100+ novels is any indication, I figured it must be good. I was right.

Right from page 1 I was taken in to this mysterious world and couldn't let it go for the 2 days I spent reading it. The plot is fairly simple, but engaging. The story is well written and I couldn't think of any time where the book suffered in translation from the original Japanese.

I am completel
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first volume of five of the first English translation of this super-famous Japanese "light novel" series by Kaoru Kurimoto. I thought it was a great, quick reading, pulpy fantasy adventure. It reminded me of Robert E Howard or Edgar Rice Burroughs stories but with stronger female characters.
Gianfranco Di Campli
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Il misterioso uomo-leopardo di cui ci si appaasiona immediatamente! Kentaro Miura gli deve davvero tanto. Le ambientazioni, il pathos e la crature mostruose saranno lo spunto per creare il mito di Berserk
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Apparently there are many, many, many books in this series already written in Japan. I'm not going to try to review each one of them, but the ones I've read so far are entertainingly light, very quick reads.
I went into this 120+ volume series fully aware that only a few would ever be translated into English. After reading all that were available, I don't think I would have read many more. A surprisingly generic western fantasy written by a Japanese author.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Not reading the rest of this series.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Due stellette e mezzo, arrotondate per difetto. Ho trovato la narrazione ne complesso noiosa e troppo lenta.
Anrisa Ryn
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An excellent adventure story. I really loved how descriptive it was, and I couldn't put it down.
Nov 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Putting this on the 'read' shelf is bending the truth a tad. I read 1/3 of it and now I'm done.
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn't expect to like it, which might be why it was bumped to four stars - exceeding my expectations has to count for something.
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