The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsythe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked this book, but only because I was able to understand a lot of the Japanese concepts of the Samurai that are present throughout the book. This book is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for readers who like a rich and vibrant back story to give them insight into what is going on in the story. This book starts very sharply and not a lot of explanations are given for the actions that occur. The reader doesn't find out about any of the real back story until about chapter 3 or 4 of the book, and even then you don't have a really good grip of what is going on until about 50% of the book. I think that this book is much more of a following the character book as opposed to presenting a world and the people in it. By this I mean that this book is very linear and one cause leads to one event and on and on; where as world books are ones that give you an event, and then explain how that event works into the overall story of the world and how that effects the people in the world. Some people may like the more linear story lines, I don't as much. With that said as a story I think the book is good, there are some things that I think the author could have done to make it better but as it is I think the story is good. The writing style is very descriptive, with very little dialogue present for most of the book. The description that is given is very vibrant and well done but I think that it makes the book thicker and more dense than it would have to be.
One thing about the story that I did enjoy about it was the realness of it. Aside from the Goddess angle and everything involved in that, this book is a Historical Fiction novel, and I good one at that. The characters are very real, and by this they become effected by what they do, which is to honestly kill people, there is no way to get around that. It also shows how even the most innocent of characters at the beginning are not as innocent as the reader believes they are at the end and the most vile and evil villians have a reason for what they do and they feel that with their whole being that they are doing what is right. That makes the reader have to take a step back and figure out who really is the bad guy in this book, is there a bad guy in this book or are there no real good guys in the book. This element of realness does make the book better but does not redeem it completely in my mind.
With all of that said, if this book were considered Historical Fiction and placed in an actual historical setting then this book would be a 4 or a 5 imo, but with that said, I don't think that it is. I think this book is a Historical Fantasy novel, going light on the Fantasy here, and as such I believe that more background would need to be given in the story itself. I understand the linear plot structure and I think that it could have worked very well had only the author given reasons for what was going on in the story, or given more of a lead up story instead of just getting thrown into the book.
Out of all of the characters the one that had any real connection with was Muhjah, as he was along for the ride in most parts and did his best in his situations. That isn't to say that he is helpless or that he is to blame for everything that happens, but I do think that he would have been perfectly fine had he not been apart of the events of this story, particularly the growth and maturation of Chiyo. My reason for this is that even though he accepts her into the group first, his feelings for her never change, he is always the outside observer and does not get to connected with her in case she were to become missing and or happen to slow them down. All the other characters I couldn't connect with them, they seemed too distant and as one of them says, doesn't really care about anything that is going on except for living to see the next day. Not that that notion isn't important in the story but I think the author could have made them a little deeper than they were.
So, all in all this book was good, it has a lot of ways that it could improve but as it is I think it is good for people interested in Samurai fiction novels or simply Samurai stories
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