Shika no Ō (The Deer King)

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    Shika no Ō (The Deer King)
    Publisher: Kadokawa Bunko
    Novel: Complete in 4 volumes
    Author: Nahoko Uekashi, author of Moribito and The Beast Player series
    Anime: Film coming 2021

    The novels center on Van (40), the head of a group of soldiers who expected to die fighting for their lands against a large empire looking to incorporate their home into its kingdom. Instead of dying, however, Van is taken as a slave and thrown into a salt mine. One night, a pack of strange dogs attacks the salt mine, and a mysterious illness breaks out. During the attack, Van takes the opportunity to escape, and he meets a young girl. Elsewhere, rumor is spreading that only immigrants are coming down with this mysterious illness. The medical scientist Hossal risks his life to search for a cure. Doctors also study a father and child who seem to have survived the illness. The novels tell the interconnecting stories and bonds of those who fight against a cruel fate.

    The novels won the Japan Booksellers' Award and won the fourth "Japan Medical Novel Award" in 2015.

    ANN, Books from Japan

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    Why I Want It:
    I only recently found out about these novels from an ANN article, but I love Nahoko Uehashi, and it's only 2 books, so it's nice and short. I've seen both Moribito and The Beast Player Erin anime, so I know I'm going to love The Deer King. I recently read the first book for The Beast Player and I loved it to bits. These novels are going to get an anime too, which makes three of Uehashi's works with anime adaptations.

    Since I can't sell this using my own words, here's an interview with the English translator of her other books. I think she does a particularly good job of selling Nahoko Uekashi's style of writing.

    Here's an excerpt:

    Uehashi herself says that she wanted to create stories and worlds that no one has ever seen before and cites Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as one of the greatest influences on her work, along with Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical fiction and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series. I see the influence of Tolkien in the scale and breadth of the world she has created, Sutcliff in the attention to realistic, authentic detail, and Le Guin in her voice as a storyteller.

    For me as a translator, this intuitive process of composition makes Uehashi a fascinating author to work with: she knows the worlds and characters she creates intimately.

    For me, one of the most striking aspects of Uehashi’s work is the way her knowledge and experience as a cultural anthropologist inform and shape her worlds. The Beast Player is not set in Japan or anywhere else on earth, yet the world and its society feels so authentic that I’m sure I could walk right into it. The cultures, belief systems, social structures, lifestyles, and customs Uehashi depicts are plausible and match the historical context and physical environment in which she has placed them. Her keen observation and understanding also extend to the physiology and psychology of the creatures she depicts in this book, including not only the huge fighting reptiles and winged Royal Beasts but also such familiar things as honeybees and horses.

    Another compelling feature is her portrayal of women. Growing up, it was difficult for me to identify with female characters in some of the fantasy novels that I loved. Women were scarce and played a secondary role. In Uehashi’s books, it is refreshing to encounter strong central female characters such as Elin the beast doctor (The Beast Player), Balsa the bodyguard-for-hire (Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit), and Sae the expert tracker (The Deer King). Although they have relationships, Uehashi’s women are not defined by, nor do their decisions and lives revolve around a romantic attachment. They are all capable and complex human beings who struggle to make the right choices in a complex world—often one that is male dominated."

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    I think this is getting an anime too.

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    @terrence Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that in my post. I will add it.

  • I love Nahoko Uekashi so have an upvote. This is not really a series. I believe it was released as 2 books each around 600 pages at the same time, but later released as 4 bunko volumes.

  • You had me already by the author. I LOVE both Erin and Moribito, so upvote

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    Hopefully with upcoming movie, someone will pick it up. I have high hopes :)