Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


3 out of 5

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

At most, that’s all I can give the new Legend of the Five Rings series.

And, honestly, that makes me a little sad. I wanted to love these books. I really did, but it wasn’t until the third book in the series that a plot started to really develop.
The Legend of the Five Rings was a collectable card game, then a fantasy role-playing game before it was a fiction series. I fell in love with the FRPG because it was based in a mythical Japan that never was called Rokugan and featured wonderful art. In fact, before the latest rules revision, I collected just about all the books just for the art and the ideas they sparked. Then, something wonderful happened. Wizards of the Coast had the folks who wrote the fiction that was sprinkled throughout the game books whip up some novels with the further adventures of some of our favorite characters. And the Clan War novels were really good. There were seven, one for each of the Great Clans featured in Rokugan. Each book focused on one Clan but really move the plot along. The plot line was based on tournament play of the card game, so it got a little strange a couple of times, but it was pretty good over all.
Then, much to my delight, a new series of Legend of the Five Rings books came out. So, I bought the first three without even reading the back cover. Man, that was a mistake. The first book, The Steel Throne, was so scarce on plot that I couldn’t find it! I had no idea what this book was supposed to be about when I was done with it. But, I’d already bought the first three, so I pressed on with the next one. The Wind of Honor is by, in my opinion, the best author in the series, but even that didn’t save this book. Again, a meandering review of characters, but not much on plot. Then, finally, the third book, The Wind of War, started to actually show some signs of a plot. And, it even explained what was supposed to be happening in the first two. Apparently, the whole series is about a struggle to find a new Emporer for Rokugan. The “Four Winds” are the dead Emporer’s children, but there’s no explanation of how they got their nick-names or what they mean. This second series is sadly lacking in some of the basics of good fiction which the first series had. In fact, I bought the second series books based solely on how good the first series was!
Ah, well, at least it was a quick read and was a nice asian setting. It was a decent counter-point to the non-fiction I was reading at the time, too, which was also about Japan.

So sad that commercialization seems to kill the good things about new settings and ideas. I sure hope I don’t let that happen to me.

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