Book Review: Spirit’s Princess by Esther Friesner

In Spirit’s Princess, we meet the little-known second century Japanese queen, Himiko, in Esther Friesner’s fictional narrative of Himiko’s girlhood. Himiko is recorded in Chinese history as a peaceful foreign queen. But other than the general consensus that she was also a shaman, very little is known about her.

In Friesner’s yarn, we meet Himiko of the Matsu (or pine tree) clan. She’s the only daughter of the Matsu chieftain, who has three wives and many sons. She especially idolizes her eldest brother, Aki. From the tender age of seven, Himiko is compassionate beyond her years, and hears the voices of spirits. Memorable were the chapters when she gets lost in the mountains and befriends a new tribe. Eventually, Himiko comes into full communion with the spirit world, and learns shaman customs and rituals. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, directing readers to the sequel.

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