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The Beast Player

by Nahoko Uehashi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1413142,746 (4.25)3
Nahoko Uehashi's The Beast Player is an epic YA fantasy about a girl with a special power to communicate with magical beasts and the warring kingdom only she can save.Erin's family cares for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom's army. When some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin's mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety. Alone, far from home, Elin discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war?… (more)

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The Beast Player is a setting similar to feudal Japan in my mind. Especially with the parts played by the Toda warriors. The descriptions of Elin's world are exceptionally beautiful, in-depth, and make it easy to imagine what it would look like. The Royal Beasts are also described with great detail but leave a little to the imagination - to me they would look like a wolf griffon only significantly larger. The Toda lack in-depth descriptions other than being serpents but I imagine them similar in appearance to Haku from Spirited Away but less beautiful and I'm not entirely sure if they do have legs.

I really enjoyed Elin's time with Joeun and the in-depth detail Nahoko Uehashi described beekeeping - my brother-in-law keeps bees. Joeun fed Elin's curiosity into the mysteries of nature works and how creatures function. In her time with Joeun she discovers a passion for the Royal Beasts after seeing them for years on their trips following the seasonal flowers for the bees. Despite her young age, Elin is exceptionally bright, her inquisitive mind leads her to discoveries and unusual methods others hadn't thought of. It is because of this Elin finds herself studying to be a beast doctor and caring for a Royal Beast cub. The cub is near the brink of death and Elin's methods not only save the cub and create a bond but defy the ways that the Royal Beast Canon states Beasts should be cared for. The reasoning behind the Royal Beast Canon, the Law's existence, and the context of Elin's mother's death is not revealed until the tail end of the book. The story is told to characters before this point but not disclosed to the reader which was a little frustrating.

The only thing that really broke up the seamlessness of the book in my eyes were the other points of view. Although it all tied together in the end it was a little jarring to switch to someone completely new and in a different setting. That's the only reason I hesitated to put this book at a 5 but I would put it at a 4.5-4.75. I would agree with the statements that compare The Beast Player with a Studio Ghibli movie - it could definitely be one. The story would most closely resemble that of Princess Mononoke, where the balance between the worlds of humanity and nature is in a state of unrest.

I would highly recommend The Beast Player to readers who enjoy books about animals (and the relationships humans have with them), fantasy, and Japanese mythology. I purchased this book because I didn't initially realize The Beast Warrior I requested from NetGalley was part of a series and I am VERY glad I did. I would definitely not suggest reading them out of order. ( )
  thereviewbooth | Jul 22, 2020 |
“...there were times when she felt herself become a prick of light in the vastness of the night sky, times when all living things, people, beasts and insects, dwindled to equal points of light twinkling in the darkness.”

*jenny slate scream* ( )
  livmae | Jul 17, 2020 |
Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Good
Recommendation: Yes
Level: High School

This book was translated into English and it nearly seamless to read. Some sentence structure is choppy but the language and story is still very well put together. I think readers who enjoy fantasy and dragons will enjoy reading about her adventure ( )
  SWONroyal | Jul 1, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nahoko Uehashiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hirano, CathyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Nahoko Uehashi's The Beast Player is an epic YA fantasy about a girl with a special power to communicate with magical beasts and the warring kingdom only she can save.Erin's family cares for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom's army. When some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin's mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety. Alone, far from home, Elin discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war?

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