Note: Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness is the sequel to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. However, each book stands on its own, and while there are some references to Moribito, you do not have to have read Moribito to enjoy Moribito II.
Balsa the Spear-Wielder has not been to her native country, Kanbal, since her foster father Jiguro gave up everything to save her from the King’s assassins when she was six years old. Now that the tyrannical King Rogsam is dead, she has decided to return to Kanbal to find Jiguro’s family and tell the truth behind his disappearance and seeming betrayal.
But King Rogsam was devious, and he before he died he created a conspiracy that would haunt Jiguro and Balsa for the rest of their days. When Balsa was a small child, Rogsam had her father killed for knowing too much. He would have murdered Balsa as well to make sure his secrets were safe and his chosen heir could ascend to the throne. When Jiguro saved Balsa and fled with her from Kanbal, Rogsam framed him for stealing the nine Spear Rings, the most precious treasures of Kabul. This lie followed Jiguro for the rest of his life, and now follows Balsa, though she does not know it.
Once back in Kanbul, Balsa helps two children, Kassam and Gina. After they part ways, Balsa doesn’t expect to see Kassam or Gina ever again, but her actions have allowed the conspiracy of the past to catch up with her and start an adventure that will test Balsa again. This time, though, her adventure will take her to the depths of the darkness in Kanbal, where she will either save a country or destroy it.
The second book in one of my favorite series, Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness is a worthy successor to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. When I read it, I was absorbed by Balsa’s second adventure and Yuko Shimizu’s beautiful illustrations made the story a little more tangible. And of course we can’t disregard Cathy Hirano’s excellent translation! Hirano skillfully navigates the language barrier, and the result is elegant. I just wish that the other books in the series were published in English. Then everything would be perfect. 🙂