Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara. ★★★★
Dragon Sword and Wind Child is a translation of a Japanese fantasy novel that draws on Japanese mythology and Western fantasy tradition.
The forces of the God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness have been at war for generations. For Saya, an orphaned teenage girl living among the people of Light, the war exists somewhere in the background… until she finds out that she is the Water Maiden, a reincarnation of the priestess of the Goddess of Dark. As the Water Maiden, Saya is the only one who can tame the Dragon Sword, a legendary weapon fated to end the war between the deities.
What I liked most about Dragon Sword and Wind Child was how the light and dark was not equivalent to good and evil. The children of the God of Light are immortal and eternal, unchanging. The children of the Goddess of Darkness die and are reborn in a cyclical pattern. Neither is good or evil, but by starting the war the God of Light has been upsetting the balance between them.
“For the first time Saya understood how people can grow accustomed to war. Intensified by the stark contrast between life and death, fleeting moments of joy such as these could make one almost mad with happiness.”
I generally liked the characters, although there were a couple of minor ones I had trouble keeping track of. Chihaya was by far my favorite for how he didn’t know or care for societal customs. It gave him a humorous side that not a lot of the other characters had. As a heroine, I thought Saya seemed rather passive. Don’t be mistaken by the blurb – Saya is not destined to wield or fight with the Dragon Sword.
I was utterly immersed in the world Ogiwara created, which came to vivid life through the quality writing. The prose was simply beautiful, and I have no complaints regarding the translation.
I’m glad I read Dragon Sword and Wind Child, and I’m already planning on tracking down more by this author. If you’re looking for fantasy novel drawing from a non-Western background, this would be one of the first I’d recommend.