It’s been a heck of a long time since I read a novel by Adam Baker. I picked up ‘Outpost’ a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. My next read was ‘Terminus’ which was also very entertaining and earlier this year I read his Year of the Zombie novella for Infected Books. I saw ‘Winter Raven’ pop up on social media somewhere and I loved the cover. I had a read of the synopsis and was sold. This isn’t the sort of book I’d usually read but I know that Baker can spin a good yarn and I was keen to see what he does with this epic Japanese tale.
The plot is fairly straightforward, a captured samurai is sent on one final mission by the emperor he set out to assassinate. He is joined on this mission by his last remaining charge (a young girl) and a group of convicts who fight for their chance to join the samurai on this mission to avoid execution. What follows is an epic tale set in feuding Japan, one that is soaked in culture and has rich characters and settings. I had a great time with this novel. I felt fully immersed in the culture and the way of the samurai. It is clear that Baker did a lot of research for this book by the descriptions of the clothing, weaponry and the scenery. The samurai is a great character; a man of honor, pride and great strength despite his disability (which I won’t spoil for you). His travelling companions are all well realized and particularly the young girl whom I feel will have a much bigger part to play in later books.
The pacing is excellent and the dialogue was smooth. I was a little concerned how the dialogue would work but Baker does a fine job in keeping it authentic. the battle scenes and confrontations are excellent, with many a decapitation and there is a particularly gruesome torture scene quite early on in the book that would make most hardened horror fans squirm.
All in all this is a fantastic book. I think fantasy fans would get a real kick out of this along with Baker fans and historical fiction readers. I for one am glad that the story doesn’t end here. More please Mr Baker, and soon!
Pick up a copy of ‘Winter Raven’ from here.