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Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (1996)

by Nahoko Uehashi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Moribito (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4334140,998 (3.77)26
The wandering warrior Balsa is hired to protect Prince Chagum from both a mysterious monster and the prince's father, the Mikado.
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» See also 26 mentions

English (39)  Italian (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A genderswapped adventure fantasy set in a fuedal land where gods and demons are real. Balsa is pressed into protecting the young Prince Chagum, who's mysteriously pregnant with a "creature" of great power and being targeted by the Mikado, his father, for it.

I first saw the amazing anime then read about Balsa's background in Moribito II thanks to a friend. I'm grateful to a nearby library for maintaining a copy of this first book in its collection. ( )
  aspirit | Jan 31, 2020 |
Not a huge fan. It was okay, but felt very much like a novelization of a manga (apparently in reality it went the other way). I was hoping for something more evocative of a time and place (to keep with the Asian theme, say, like Bridge of Birds and apologies for lumping all Asia in the same hypothetical pot), but it pretty much read like any other swashbuckling quest-like fantasy. The characters were not particularly interesting, the plot was somewhat repetitive and tortured, the mythology almost constantly discussed and yet never really explained ... disappointing.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
Having seen and greatly enjoyed the Anime, I was delighted to find the book at a Library Book Sale. Often animes are taken from manga but this one was taken from a book – and faithfully rendered into film. The book brings alive in the mind this fantastic story. With a deft hand, the author gives us the world of real and spirit clashing and the people in our world that must fight to protect it.
While the language and vocabulary are of no particular difficulty, the subject is not simple. The author touches on the how different cultures mix, and in particular, who writes history – and why it might not always be true. This would be an excellent story to start a discussion with elementary age kids about critical analysis of historical reporting. Can you always believe the history books? How do you know what is and isn’t true? Why do people lie about history? It isn’t told in a heavy-handed moral sort of way either, but simply a presentation of the story that would lead to good thoughts and good discussion. This is also an excellent book about another culture from a non-western author. If you are looking to get kids reading non-western authors, this must be on your list! Happy Reading! ( )
  empress8411 | Aug 6, 2018 |
The last time I read and reviewed this book was back in 2010, when my posts included spoiler-filled synopses that were as long or longer than the reviews themselves. I figured that a new review was in order, especially since my opinion of this book has improved.

After Balsa, a female bodyguard, rescues young Prince Chagum from drowning, she finds herself being roped into being his protector. Chagum is believed to be possessed by the same creature that once caused a terrible drought. It's thought that the drought will be averted if Chagum is killed, so the Mikado himself has ordered several assassination attempts against him. Chagum's mother, the Second Queen, enlists Balsa's help to save him.

While Balsa attempts to hide Chagum and keep him safe from his pursuers, she also seeks out several friends in the hope of figuring out what's going on so that she can somehow both save Chagum's life and prevent the drought.

The first time I read this book was, I think, too soon after having seen the anime. They're both good, but the time I spent noting similarities and differences to the anime made it hard to judge the book on its own merits (yes, I know the book came first, but my first exposure to the story was the anime).

Balsa makes me wish more than the first two books in this series had been translated into English. She's a great character - an experienced and talented warrior with an intriguing past. In general, the book had some nice gender role reversal, with its female stoic warrior character and male healer interested in the spirit world. There was a hint of potential romance between Balsa and Tanda, the healer, but it was handled in a very low-drama way. Tanda was a little frustrated at Balsa's lack of desire to settle down, but it never got to the point of wrecking their friendship.

The "found family" aspect involving Balsa, Tanda, and Chagum was nice. I enjoyed that restful period of the story before everybody had to worry about Chagum's safety again, and it was nice to see Chagum becoming more comfortable and confident in his life as a commoner.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the way the setting and its history mattered. This was very much a story about how knowledge is lost or changed over time. Near the beginning of the book, readers get the history of how New Yogo was founded, but it's entirely from the perspective of the Yogoese, who are currently the area's dominant ethnic group. Later on, readers get more sides of the story - the secret history that only the Star Readers know (which is, again, Yogoese history) and Yakoo stories.

The Yakoo were the people who originally lived in the area where New Yogo was founded. (Supposedly they fled out of fear when the Yogoese peacefully tried to contact them, and I think the Yakoo side of the story agreed with this or at least didn't refute it, but I don't buy it.) They'd lost much of their culture and traditions, and what was left was sometimes mixed with Yogoese culture to an uncertain degree. It gave me shivers to think how close everyone came to not having the knowledge they needed during the chase at the end of the book.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed rereading this. I haven't read the next book in the series yet, but I'm now looking forward to it even more.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Apr 14, 2018 |
Cover: Pretty
Rating: 4 Stars
Overall: Beautifully written
Characters: Well Written
Plot: Balsa is hired to save the prince from the creature that lives inside him. But will she succeed where others have failed?
Page Turner: Yes
Series Cont.? Yes
Recommend: Yes
Favorite Character: Tanda
Source: Library (I now own XD)

Review: I watched this anime years ago when it first came out in English. I went to college before it finished, and haven't gotten around to the end. As soon as I seen this on OverDrive, I instantly wanted to read it! I'm so glad I did! Meeting old friends and new, I loved everything about this book! While I only gave it a 4 star rating because I felt the story was rushed in places, I enjoyed every minute of it! Great characters, strong plot, reads just like the anime! I loved how easy it was for me to picture each of the scenes as they played out. ( )
  Shadow494 | Feb 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nahoko Uehashiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hirano, CathyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shimizu, YukoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At the moment the royal procession reached Yamakage Bridge, Balsa's destiny took an unexpected turn.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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