“The Legend of Nariko” feels a lot like a classic Greek myth but with the back drop of a feudal Japan. You have gods and demi-gods battling, picking champions to go forth and do their bidding and to fight their enemies, and you have the remnants of a war where families have been torn apart, but are still trying to establish a new normal. In the tyrannical kingdom left mostly untouched from the initial revolution, more conflict is brewing as the wounds left from the Artemis war still fester, and the evil ruler of the land preys on his female population. One war may have already been settled, but another is looming that will—hopefully—put the world back to rights. There is A LOT going on in this story between the different conflicts, the characters and their hidden histories and personas, and a ton of action packed sword battles. While I enjoyed the uniqueness of the story, it was sometimes hard to follow with all the characters and their multiple guises.
So I will say that, even though there are a lot of characters who we get the POV from, I really liked how many strong and fierce female characters Mohan crafts. They are all incredibly powerful without falling into that trope of being mean. It was really well done; I especially loved Thunder and her character arc. That, plus the battle scenes were all very engaging—the author is not afraid to hurt his characters which had me worried about who would make it to the end. Really, the fight scenes were some of my favorite parts of the book, and there are a lot of action packed scenes interspersed with the background as to why the Ark Angels were initially fighting in the original Artemis conflict. And while violent it’s not overly gore-y, so never fear.
However, there are a lot of characters who are vital to the plot that are introduced throughout the course of the novel, some of which are pretty late in the story as well. Not only do you get most of those character’s POVs for various sections or chapters throughout the book, but many of those characters are also reincarnations of previous heroes, or used to go by a different name during the initial war that takes place before this particular story begins. It got a bit hard for me to keep track of who was who, and what they did at what part of the various conflicts, not to mention which of those characters are related or married to other characters (whether they remember that or not). I almost needed a cheat sheet of sorts to keep everyone straight, which, when I was more focused on that, meant I couldn’t focus on the central plot-line of why the different sides were fighting and what started it, or what their powers were. The powers some of the characters had were awesome! But I had difficulty remembering who could do what, outside of Icarus. His powers made the most sense, though his backstory and multiple names and his complex history often lost me.
The story itself is very creative, and I did genuinely love the sheer amount of strong female characters that didn’t need to be rescued by a man. These ladies were going to rescue themselves, and I loved that! All the combat was done well, and the magic and powers the Ark Angels and their families had were all very cool. But I just had such a hard time keeping everything straight that it’s hard for me to say how much I did or didn’t enjoy the book. It might just be a me thing, though. If you like fantasy reads that feel like Greek mythos but with a unique backdrop and lots of powerful female characters, I’d say check this book out! But be aware that it may be one of those stories you have to really, really pay attention to in order to get everything out of it that you should. So I’m giving this book 3 stars because while it was very creative, I am still struggling to piece everything together. But thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review!
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