This will be the last novel I will review for a while as I still don't have Wind of Honor or Wind of Truth.
The setting of this novel is the War of Spirits, a period which I was always very interested in but never got much development because of a lawsuit. Apparently, though, next year AEG is going to release a sourcebook, Imperial Histories, which will detail this era among others.
I'm actually a bit pissed off I completely missed this. I don't know if I had any chance to get selected or at least be a running candidate, but I would have liked to try...
As to the novel itself, I was very pleasantly surprised.
Characterization is very good, Hantei XVI, Toturi, Hida Tsuneo and Akodo Kaneka being particularly well done. Tsudao was the only character which got altered substantially from her traditional depiction.
In this novel she's dumb as a brick... And I don't mean in the Good is Dumb kind of way, but rather the Full Retard kind of way...
Incidentally, Kaneka is awesome in this novel. Too bad he ended up in Jesse Lebow's hands, then fell prey to AEG's "Rokugan must have a Shogun" fever, AND then had a
It is not without problems though. The novel spans 20 years, roughly one per chapter, which means that the action feels disjointed at times, and some plot are left underdeveloped or unexplained. The Dragon clan involvement is also awkward with Tamori's power seeming to be a bit too widespread.
Then there is Kitsu Motso's death... I'm still undecided if self-beheading by spinning no-dachi is awesome, or just really dumb.
All in all is a fairly enjoyable book, and if your interested in the War of Spirits it will still be the only source for a while.