book reviews by Althea

The Disfavored Hero – Jessica Amanda Salmonson ***

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The Disfavored Hero
The Disfavored Hero by Jessica Amanda Salmonson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The setting: an alternate-world 12th-century Japan, where all the creatures and magic of Japanese folktale are very real.

The character: Tomoe Gozen, woman warrior extraordinaire.
Tomoe is an actual historical figure, a female samurai who fought in the Genpei war, and was renowned for both her military prowess and her beauty.

However, in this incarnation, she is a pure fantasy hero. We follow Tomoe as she experiences evil sorcery, monsters, curses, betrayal, and more – as she makes friends and loses them, and wrestles with issues of honor and loyalty.

The book is particularly notable for its action scenes, of which there are many. Salmonson is very good at writing clear, play-by-play, fight scenes and battles. I thought the book was a little weaker on character development. All the characters are unique and interesting, but the narrative style made me feel a little bit distanced from them. However, I believe this was intentional – the book is intentionally seeking to emulate a slightly old-fashioned, traditional-feeling epic tale-telling style.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but don’t feel desperately driven to pick up the next in the series immediately.

Many thanks to Open Road Media and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

View all my reviews


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