Monday, January 3, 2011

Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja

Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja
by Simon Higgins
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. 336 pages. Fiction.

There are few things as cool as a ninja, and this book is about some very cool ninjas. Moonshadow is an orphan in medieval Japan who has been chosen and rigorously trained by the Shogun's secret spy organization, the Grey Light Order. He is amazingly quick, strong and resourceful, and extremely skilled in weaponry, especially in sword fighting. Moonshadow has also been trained in the ancient skill called the eye of the beast: he can see through an animal's eyes--see what the animals sees--and even control the animal's actions. All these skills prove vital as he tackles his first assignment, to steal from the plans for a dangerous weapon from an angry warlord that wants to overthrow the Shogun and plunge Japan into war. In addition to his small army of samurai, the warlord has hired four dangerous assassins to protect the plans. As if this weren't enough, unknown to Moonshadow, another highly trained ninja from a hostile order has also been sent to retrieve the plans. This female counterpart is every bit as skilled as Moonshadow.

Moonshadow is a great hero--he's obedient, kind, thoughtful, and follows his heart--and this book is riveting and action-packed from the first page. Japanese culture and language are seamlessly woven into the story--the reader learns without even trying. The author, Simon Higgins, is an expert in Japanese swordsmanship, which gives the novel authenticity.

Please don't be put off by the cover of this book, which, in my opinion, looks a bit cheesy. This novel is anything but that, and I highly recommend it.

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