The book take place in feudal Japan with world full of Samurai warriors. Two sisters Kimi and Hana watch the betrayal of a beloved uncle as he murders their father and brothers. Forced to flee in the middle of the night for their lives and hope that their mother and youngest brother escaped the carnage. In order to survive they disguise themselves as boys and so they can train as warriors at the Sumarai training school, which of course is forbidden. Girls just don’t do that.
Once I got some time away from the book though I had some questions about the way the girls were disguising themselves. The disguise was the way they tied their hair into a topknot and the side they tied their sash – girls on the left boys on the right. Would this really have worked? I’m not sure exactly how old the sisters are either and generally in this type of book their is some talk of tying one’s chest down to hide breasts and periods usually come up as part of it as well. Kimi takes on her cousin, who is an older student and a skilled fighter at the end of the book so I would think they were at least in the early teens maybe older.
Maybe part of my questioning their ability to pass themselves as boys particularly is that I am not very versed in Japanese culture and history . . . although tying ones chest down would be a universal. It’s possible that this would work in that culture better than I think. The book did make me want to learn more about the importance of Sumarai, tea ceromonies in Japan and Japanese history.
On the whole I really liked the book concerns aside. It’s a fun story and the fight scenes are awesome (except when people die). Kimi does kick butt when she fights her cousin. I would like to read the other books in the series and maybe the whole disguise question will be resolved. Also there are lots of characters and loose ends so the author will have lots of options, which leads to another question. I have not been able to find out much about her. The only information I can find is the same on the book jacket.
Maya Snow once had an aikido teacher who told her that the best place for a tree to hide is in the forest. Maya decided that the best place for a writer to hide is among her own words.
So if anyone knows anymore please share because right know she is doing a good job hiding.
What other bloggers are saying:
Jessica at Trainspotting “Sisters of the Sword is very fast moving, quick read. A lot of detail in things like costume, fighting style and other such culture. I enjoyed it.”
Sherry at Semicolon Sisters of the Sword definitely fills a niche: I’m not aware of many other middle grade fiction titles that deal so specifically with samurai and martial arts, especially not for girls. Yet, there are lots of kids who do martial arts, and lots of those nowadays are girls.
Pixiepalace The story this book tells is incredibly intriguing. The plot is complicated and many threads are left for the author to pick up in later books. What makes it so interesting is the political intrigue, various codes (bushi, noble and and likely others that are less well defined for us as readers, at least at this point), and the deceptions being overlaid on top of each other in varying ways.
The Reading Tub Yes, there are other books with the premise of girls disguising themselves to be boys. Generally, there is one heroine; here we have two. The author’s presentation is unique and she will have you racing into the book within the first few pages. What is particularly noteworthy is the sister relationship. As siblings, they have bonds and expectations that are stronger and run deeper than those having two characters who are like sisters … and it adds depth to the story.