Review Blog

Apr 15 2010

The Wrath of Silver Wolf by Simon Higgins

cover image

Random House, Australia, 2009.
Suitable for boys and girls 10+. The first in the Moonshadow series, The Eye of the Beast, introduced us to Moonshadow, the apprentice ninja from medieval Japan. He is trained by the secret brotherhood, the Grey Light Order, and equipped with special powers such as the ability to merge his mind with animals and then control them. He is fast, skillful and smart but does not kill. Here we meet him accompanied by fellow ninja, the beautiful but temperamental Snowhawk, on a rooftop, spying on a minor lord who is plotting to overthrow the Shogun or ruler.
They learn they must visit the mountain shrine home of the albino White Nun, the Order's oldest adviser, who has forseen an attack on her and who insists the two teenagers be sent to assist her. The attack on the White Nun is planned by Silver Wolf, a warlord who seeks to destroy the Shogun and rule Japan himself. He prides himself on his noble blood, sharp steel and heart of ice. He handpicks his team - Wada, who feels no pain, Kagero, a sorceress, Chikuma, 'a one-man slaughterhouse' (p62) who uses no force, weapons or poisons, and Jiro, the knife throwing tattooed gangster.
What ensues are deadly struggles between these highly skilled adversaries. The youngsters struggle with their own insecurities and lack of knowledge but are a formidable team. The author choreographs the fights in intricate detail and readers of anime and manga graphic novels will enjoy these scenes.
The themes of the book include loyalty, negative emotions creating bad karma, destiny, and the fanaticism of the zealous patriot.
Simon Higgins is a student of Iaido, medieval samurai swordsmanship and etiquette, and he has researched Japanese history and culture.  He blends spy thriller, fantasy, action, mythology and spiritualism with the supernatural world of ancient Japan. Like the first book, the viewpoint switches between the ninjas, the assassins and the Order. It would make a good movie.
Kevyna Gardner

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