Goodreads: Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
Series: Moribito #1
Balsa has gained a reputation as a skilled bodyguard for-hire, but does not expect to go into service to protect the life of the young Prince Chagum, whose father the Emperor wants him dead. A mystical creature grows inside the boy and the Star Watchers fear the return of an ancient evil. Balsa understands the fate of the nation may be at stake–but she will do whatever it takes to ensure that her charge remains alive.
I waited awhile after reading this to write the review and, of course, I find that I do not remember it in detail. On one hand, I think that can say something about the book (I don’t want to say “story” in this case, since we are dealing with a translation and I’m not sure how my experience would have differed had I read the original version.). Nothing in it struck me as memorable or exciting. On the other hand, maybe I am really the problem in this case.
I remember enjoying the story. Balsa, a female bodyguard, is an intriguing character and I wanted to learn more about her and her past. Her relationship with the young prince is also very special; I loved watching Chagum grow in maturity, realizing what Balsa has given up for him and that it is not his right to have others give their lives for his. Indeed, all the characters have some level of complexity, making it fascinating to watch them navigate their choices and choose between what is right and what is easy.
The plot itself I did not find particularly compelling. To pull off a quest plot can be tricky and I grew a little tired of watching the characters running about chased by monsters. The best parts of the quest were the stops, where Balsa and Chagum could meet others, rest, and grow. I enjoyed the parallel plot with the young scholar realizing that leadership seems to require corruption, but that one remains largely unresolved in this installment.
I do have the next book in the series and at some point I will probably read it. However, I am in no particular hurry to return to this world, especially as it seems the entire series has not been released in English. So perhaps I’ll never know what happens to all the characters!