Ship’s pilot Simon Lang travels the globe from Japan to Venice to England, gathering companions along the way for a War of the Roses encounter not found in the history books. Lang’s family has lost their English estate to an evil Yorkist, and Lang has hit the high seas. En route, he, his friends first mate Neno, Captain Aldo and the rest of the crew end up on an as-yet undiscovered island—Japan. While there, a battle erupts between Lang’s hosts and the Konos. After helping to defeat the Konos, the Europeans, along with samurai Kojiro (the “crane”) and warhorse Kuro, return to Venice, and from there head to France, Wales, and an encounter with King Richard III.
If you love battles, fighting and sword play, this book will more than satisfy. Dohmen offers detailed renditions of fighting, with a special focus on the expert skills of Neno and the samarai Kojiro, definitely a surprise secret weapon in medieval England. While character development is virtually nil, the main players sometimes show surprising talents, such as Captain Aldo’s gift with languages—and the author’s insouciant, often campy sense of humor carries the day as the protags deliver one liners while slicing down enemies and playing practical jokes. The commentary of the ever-competitive warhorse Kuro is an especially delightful touch.
The mash-up of cultures adds to the entertainment, though dining in fifteenth century Japan seems more like experiencing a good Japanese restaurant in San Francisco than an Asian medieval banquet, and Merry Olde England and Wales have an eerie resemblance to a medieval theme park. The killing is almost non-stop and a more thoughtful book would question the carnage. Here, however, it’s rendered in a cartoon style that makes it all seem good fun. The key point is to have a good time. The combination of geeky precision and high energy writing makes for an entertaining read. There’s not much question about who the good guys and the bad guys are or much suspense about who will win the day. For the reader, however, the journey is the reward.
THE ROSE AND THE CRANE reads like a medieval Pirates of the Caribbean, featuring non-stop action-adventure with almost never a dull moment.
~Diane Reynolds for IndieReader