Autumn Princess, Dragon Child sees everyone dealing with the fallout from Emperor of the Eight Islands. Shikanoko is paying a high price for assuming he could challenge the Prince Abbot. He is given a heavy responsibility by Lady Tora, who tells him to raise her sons as humans. In the meantime, Masachika is trying to gain power, the Prince Abbot wants to keep his ascendance, the young emperor, Yoshi, tries to stay in hiding, and Lady Tama struggles to regain control over her land. The novel splits into yet more threads as the main characters split away from one another, cross paths, and then separate again in the complex interweaving of the saga.
At times, the shifts in point of view can make the novel hard to follow, particularly when two characters have similar names. It is worth the effort, however, as this is a true epic featuring the rise and fall dynasties and at the same time capturing the personal qualities of those involved and showing how hard it is to be caught in the middle of great events.
As in Emperor of the Eight Islands, Lian Hearn mixes the world of the spirits and the world of humans with grace. The presence of spirits in the gateposts of a house may be inconvenient, but it is part of life. People have spirits, and if they should linger, it is regarded as an extraordinary but not unnatural event. Not everyone who appears human is. This book introduces the boys who will become the Spider Tribe, an unsettling but still appealing group.
Autumn Princess, Dragon Child is a strong continuation of the story begun in Emperor of the Eight Islands. It is recommended for people who enjoy complex fantasy worlds and alternate histories involving the supernatural.
Autumn Princess, Dragon Child: Book 2 in the Tale of Shikanoko came out from FSG Books on June 7, 2016. To order from Amazon click the link in the title. You may also find it in your local bookstores and libraries.
The rest of the books in Tale of ShikanokoThe Tale of Shikanoko are all available for order and pre-order on Amazon.