Publishers Weekly
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The death from smallpox of Tsuruhime, the shogun's daughter, spells trouble for Sano Ichiro in Rowland's outstanding 17th novel of feudal Japan (after 2012's The Incense Game). Faced with picking an official heir, the shogun passes over his nephew, Ienobu, in favor of Yoshisato, a newly discovered "son," who's really the child of Sano's bitterest rival, Yanagisawa. With the shogun's acquiescence, Yanagisawa takes over Sano's position as chamberlain, much reducing Sano'spay and retinue, and appointing him chief rebuilding magistrate. Believing that Yanagisawa may have played a part in Tsuruhime's demise, Sano undertakes a dangerous inquiry into her death. But his code of honor dictates that he must follow the evidence wherever it might lead, even if the new chamberlain is exonerated in the process. Just when readers think that events can't turn more against her hero, Rowland plausibly ups the ante, keeping this long-running series fresh and engaging. Agent: Pam Ahearn, Ahearn Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.