by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Spirit Hunters. Book 1: The Way of the Fox, by Paul Kidd. Illustrated by Angie Kae (KaeMantis).
Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com/Perth, Western Australia, Kitsune Press, September 2014, trade paperback $31.97 (470 pages), Kindle $7.99.
Spirit Hunters is set in the realm of traditional Japanese mythology, vaguely around 900 or 1000 A.D. if you know your Japanese history. It begins with the rebel lord Sanuki nō Tazadane trying to annex the lands of Kitsune Mountain.
“Lord Sanuki’s castle and treasury both mysteriously burned to the ground two days later …” (p. 3)
Asodo Kuno, a young and handsome, but not terribly bright human samurai, a junior deputy of the sixth rank (a bottom-rung position) in service to Magistrate Masura of the Imperial court, is traveling on foot to the sword tournament at Iris Castle, where Magistrate Masura is presiding over contests of swordsmanship. Kuno hopes to win the tournament to achieve promotion to a higher position. He meets Kitsune nō Sura along the road:
“A fox woman lounged upon a fallen log like a reclining Buddha, eating a roasted chicken leg. Beside her, there were the embers of a camp fire and a pair of backpacks ready for travel. The fox woman had a long, clever pointed muzzle, and great, green eyes filled with humour. Her body was human in size an shape – excepting for its lush pelt of fur, her fox head with muzzle and long pointed ears, and her long, elegant red tail. She wore a priestess’ robes decorated with images of peaches – with each peach missing a single bite. The fox called out to Kuno in a loud and merry voice while she wriggled her black-furred toes.” (p. 12)