The Politics of Mystical Japan: The Rising Tide by James Calbraith

The Politics of Mystical Japan: The Rising Tide by James CalbraithThe Rising Tide by James Calbraith
Series: The Year of the Dragon #4

Published by Flying Squid on April 24th 2013
Also by this author: The Shadow of Black Wings, The Warrior's Soul, The Islands in the Mist, The Chrysanthemum Seal, The Withering Flame, The Shattering Waves, The Last Dragon King
Also in this series: The Shadow of Black Wings, The Warrior's Soul, The Islands in the Mist, The Chrysanthemum Seal, The Withering Flame, The Shattering Waves, The Last Dragon King
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448
Format: ebook
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The thrilling conclusion to the hunt for the Crimson Robe in the fourth volume of the best-selling historical fantasy saga, "The Year of the Dragon".

Bran, Sato and Nagomi embark on the final stage of their chase, aided by the last of the were-bears of Chinzei and the powerful and cunning Lord Nariakira of Satsuma.

After the Battle of Shanglin, Wulfhere of Warwick finds himself an unlikely hero, while Dylan begins to have second thoughts over his role in the war.

The wind from Edo brings tidings of war and oncoming Darkness. The sacred islands of Yamato are no longer safe beyond their barrier of winds and waves.

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What’s a good epic fantasy without some troubling diplomats who try to blackmail their way into higher ranks? And why not betray your own allies with secret weapons to get ahead? Yamato is filled with begrudged officials whose status is more important to them than anything else. Prepare for spoilers if you haven’t read the previous books in the series.

This week we’re visiting Yamato again – James Calbraith’s magically infused Japan. Politics take over the story from our three adventurers, Bran, Nagomi and Sato. Emrys, Bran’s dragon, has been found and lost again, but in this installment, the two will reunite, albeit with an unexpected twist.

From the beginning of the book, you already know there will be a huge climax as the main villain of the previous books, The Crimson Robe, is after the dragon (just like everyone else). The coming confrontation between our party of heroes and The Crimson Robe is the highlight of the book, but no less important than the other subplots.

Bran’s father, Dylan, is convinced that his son is in Yamato. The court in Edo has strangers to deal with and the councilors show their true faces. More foreign forces are moving towards Yamato. Everything points to an oncoming war and the darkness as prophesied by Nagomi.

The stage is set, the players introduced, the games can begin. On the road to the final battle, Bran, Nagomi and Sato learn more about themselves and what they want in the future. The events of the past weeks have allowed the three to grow into adulthood.

The only thing that wasn’t clear to me was Bran’s romantic interest. While he doesn’t need to have one, I’m curious as to whether his heart sways to one side or the other since we don’t see or hear him think about a girl (or woman) in his future. Sato does think of her future and she sees that she now has more possibilities than at the beginning of their journey. Nagomi, having seen her own death in a vision, prefers not to speak of the future, but I’m sure she’ll be a priestess after everything is over.

There’s an extensive appendix in the bundle of the four books with a detailed outline of the alternate history of Calbraith’s world. While some events are certainly inspired by real life history, the timeline diverges massively from our own, and Calbraith proves his eye for detail is precise.

The Rising Tide definitely the best of the first four books in The Year Of The Dragon series. These four are the first part (and bundle) of the complete series, with books five through eight as the second (which are also available as a bundle).

Come back next month for a review of book five, The Chrysanthemum Seal.

About James Calbraith

James Calbraith is a Poland-born British writer, foodie and traveler.

Growing up in communist Poland on a diet of powdered milk, Lord of the Rings and soviet science-fiction, he had his first story published at the ripe age of eight. After years of bouncing around Polish universities, he moved to London in 2007 and started writing in English.

His debut historical fantasy novel, The Shadow of Black Wings, has reached Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finals in 2012. “The Year of the Dragon” saga sold over 30,000 copies worldwide.

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