Title: Guardian of the Darkness
Author: Nahoko Uehashi
Balsa is finally going home.
When she was six, she fled the country with her father’s closest friend, Jiguro. Assassins followed. Jiguro killed them all, even though they were his friends, to protect her. Now Balsa is hoping to repay her debt somehow, to tell those who knew him the true story of his life and death. But Kanbal is not entirely at peace, even though the evil king who murdered her father and sent assassins after Jiguro has long since perished. Balsa’s homecoming may be far more than she expected . . .
I had enjoyed the anime, so when I saw that the novels (at least the first two) had been published, I knew I’d have to get around to them. These are a real treat. Balsa is not at all typical—a middle-aged women who fights with a spear, who works as a bodyguard to earn money. But this book is less about a job and more about her finally getting the chance to deal with some old demons in her heart. The tragic life and death of the man who gave up everything for her has inspired her to make this journey home.
Although this is a sequel, it stands perfectly well alone. Balsa is a stranger in her native land, and much about Kanbal is new to her, or at least seen much differently at thirty than it was at six. And her story weaves into Kassa’s, a boy she inadvertently rescues, a native of Kanbal who accidentally makes her life so much more difficult.
I hesitate to spoil too much, so I’ll just say read it. With or without the first book, read it. I rate this book Highly Recommended.