This second book of the MORIBITO series follows female bodyguard Balsa as she returns from the land of New Yogo to her ancestral homeland of Kanbal, a land she has not seen since she was a young child. At the age of six, Balsa's father discovered a plot to murder the current king of Kanbal, and as a result, her father was murdered and his best friend fled the country with the young Balsa. This man, Jiguro, was responsible for protecting and raising Balsa from childhood into adulthood, eventually dying of an illness under Balsa's care.
Although Balsa only intends to return in order to find personal peace, her entry into Kanbal sets off a series of events destined to plunge Balsa back into the same kinds of plotting that led to her father's death years before. Balso quickly learns that, during her long absence from the land, her mentor Jiguro has been wrongfully accused of great crimes. His younger brother, Yuguro, has become a hero for supposedly killing Jiguro and returning the symbolically important golden spear rings that Jiguro was framed for stealing. The new king is entirely under Yuguro's control. And once again, it's up to Balsa to work her way through the deception and trickery in order to save her homeland before it's too late.
GUARDIAN OF THE DARKNESS adds new depth to Balsa's character by allowing the reader to see her in a new setting, one that is both familiar to her and strangely foreign. Her own inner turmoil about the death of Jiguro and the lies that have been spread about him provide the novel with its emotional power.
As with the first volume in the series, Uehashi's worldbuilding is stunning. It's obvious that the author knows everything about this world, right down to the different foods people eat and the reasons behind their cultures and traditions. Kanbal is utterly different from New Yogo, a unique place in its own right, with its own legends and elements of the fantastic.
Overall, I found this book even more exciting than the first one. The combination of Balsa's outward strength and emotional searching made her a very complex character. I also appreciated the large cast of secondary characters who helped flesh out this world, in particular the young spearman-in-training Kassa, whose subtle development plays out alongside the novel's grand conflict.
I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who liked the first novel in the series, and even to those who haven't read it!
Reviewed by: Candace Cunard
on 25 July 2011
This is the second part to the amazing Moribito series, and it continues with Balsa's journey to Kanbal. I enjoyed this book immensely (even better than the first!) and I began researching Amazon for the remaining 9 books in the series. Unfortunately - Scholastic (the U.S. publishers) have decided not to continue printing any more of the Moribito series. I was devastated!
If anyone from a publishing company reads this - please continue the series! It's absolutely wonderful and a true joy to read. Well, here's hoping.....
on 15 May 2009
The second book of the Moribito-series, as fascinating and mystical as the first one, gives the reader a deeper look into Balsa's past and her nature. Reading this second part, I noticed that the anime of "Guardian of the Spirit" (the first book) beautifully portrayed Balsa's complex character as the book series reveals it only progressively to the reader.
"Guardian of the Darkness" has been wonderfully translated by Cathy Hirano. Her 2009-Mildred-Batchelder-Award for outstanding translation is well deserved indeed.
on 16 February 2014
If you collect/read fantasy novels, you should consider buying these stories just for
the package. Nice cover, little details on every page, simply the best looking books in my
I found the story nearly as interesting as the first, You will learn a lot more about the world the story is set in.