Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Flower Path: A Legend of the Five Rings Novel - Legend of the Five Rings


The Flower Path is a wonderfully engaging mystery by Josh Reynolds set in the multi-author sandbox Five Rings world, and the third book by Reynolds featuring the clever amateur sleuth Daidoji Shin. Released 21st June 2022 by Aconite, it's 352 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

The Legend of the Five Rings world is a re-imagined "sandbox" setting with multiple authors and tie-ins, based on a roughly Feudal era Japan with the addition of dragons, magic, and political fantasy. Besides the fiction, the original setting was used for fantasy RPG, collectible card game, and even LARPing. There was also a D&D tie-in published as part of the third edition rules, called Oriental Adventures, which is not out of print. 

That has, more or less, nothing whatever to do with this mystery. Despite being the third (of four) Daidoji Shin mysteries, it works perfectly well as a standalone. The writing and especially the characterizations are beautifully rendered and three dimensional. The setting is organically rendered and with literally thousands of pages of canon, it's as much a main theme of the book as the primary characters. 

The mystery is cleverly wrought and all the technical aspects of the writing are in place and working smoothly. It's a huge cast of characters and there were some slight issues at a few places keeping track of which envoy was whose and which characters did what at the primary setting, Daidoji's newly refurbished and fabulously (potentially ruinously) expensive theatre, where the leading lady is murdered on opening night. For readers who experience the same issues, the e-book format has the added benefit of a search function. 

Four and a half stars. The writing is compelling enough to make me seek out the previous books (and keep an eye out for the fourth book featuring these characters, due out in July 2023). 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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