cover image Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince

Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince

Noriko Ogiwara. Haikasoru/Viz Media, $21.99 (500p) ISBN 978-1-4215-3725-2

Second in the Tales of Magatama, set centuries after the first book, Mirror Sword centers on Toko, the beloved only daughter of the Tachibana clan's chief and her foster brother Oguna. Consigned by his foundling status to a secondary role, the weak-willed Oguna seems reconciled to his fate; drawn by unsuspected parentage into the twisted politics of the Imperial family, Oguna finds himself burdened with the godlike power of the Dragon Sword and thrust into a central role in the Emperor's schemes. Alarmed at the transformation of her childhood friend and at the carnage that follows Oguna, the iron-willed Toko begins a quest that will take her across the empire in search of the pieces of Misumaru neckace, itself the manifestation of godly power. Ogiwara avoids the temptation to write a simple quest story; the representations of divine power are more burdens than gifts, weighing possessors down with obligation and terrible temptations and while Oguna does not entirely lack agency, Toko's determination is sometimes misapplied. The result is a morality tale where faith in external struggle can be misplaced; in the words of the Buddha, peace comes from within. (May)