Title: The Nightmare Ninja
Author: Simon Higgins
Series: Moonshadow #2
Silver Wolf has not forgotten the young shinobi who humiliated him previously. He’s got a plan to usurp the Shogun and take over Japan, but first he schemes vengeance for his own honor.
Moonshadow and Snowhawk are called away on a rescue mission. Some unknown force is threatening the White Nun, and she’s specifically asked for their help. An extended solo mission comes with plenty of dangers, but Moonshadow also struggles with his own role as the leader. Is he going to have to choose between Snowhawk and his own duty as a shinobi?
This remains an excellent series. Japan’s history comes to life, and the fights in particular show a good understanding of the martial arts involved. I particularly liked the early fight on the rooftops—even when swords are drawn, neither swordsman dares actually block the enemy’s strike, because that would be noisy. And Moonshadow is an excellent fighter—as is just about everyone up against him. Seeing that in action is a lot of fun.
I also liked the various abilities the shinobi have mastered. They add a nice touch of fantasy to the historical fiction, and an extra element of uncertainty as Moonshadow and Snowhawk have to defend themselves against increasingly unusual attacks. And the mythological monsters were great.
Character-wise, I liked the progression for both Moonshadow and Snowhawk. Moonshadow is maturing in leadership, in his ability to make the split-second decisions that might save or doom him and others. He really liked Snowhawk, as a friend, and perhaps more than that . . . but he’s deeply committed to the ways of the shinobi, and she’s breaking code in ways he shouldn’t be excusing. Snowhawk, for her part, is finally free of the tortures of the Fuma clan, but her heart is still chained to them through her anger and unforgiveness. It’s a fatal flaw in a shinobi: she knows she has to master herself, but how?
Overall this is a second book just as strong as the first. I’m eager to see how this continues. I rate this book Recommended.