Charles T. Whipple is best known as a well-respected Western author under the pseudonym Chuck Tyrell. But he also writes stories set in
, where he's lived and worked for a number of years. His novella THE FALL OF AWA is the first in a series of fantasy yarns based on ancient Japanese mythology, and it's a good one. Japan
The heroine, a girl named Ryo, is the daughter of a servant in the household of a local ruler. When the kingdom comes under attack by the forces of a rival warlord aided by dark sorcery, the fortress of Awa falls and Ryo and her mother are doomed to life as slaves of the conquerors. Other mystical forces are at work, though, and Ryo is destined to play a pivotal part in the battle between good and evil.
With its young heroine, you might think this is a YA novella, but not really. The battle scenes early on are bloody and almost Howardian in their sweep and pace. That hardboiled, gritty realism continues during the story of the time Ryo and her mother spend as slaves, culminating in a sorcerous conflict that sets the stage for more stories to come.
I'm not a big fan of stories set in the Orient, but Whipple does a great job with this one and has me looking forward to the rest of the series. It's a nice blend of historical and heroic fantasy, and if you're a fan of those genres, you should check it out. I enjoyed it a lot.