I don’t remember how I heard about these two books (The Initiate Brother and The Gatherer of Clouds) by Sean Russell, but I’m glad I did. Seldom do I find Fantasy novels based on ancient Japan, and seldom do I find myself so captivated.
The Yankura family has ascended the Empire’s throne after the plague wiped out most of the previous dynasty, and the Emperor is a hard man to figure out. He trusts no one, and schemes and undermines, afraid that the older Houses will turn against him.
Lord Shonto is a lord of such an ancient House, and though he sees the Emperor fears him and his influence, and knows the Emperor wants him and his House gone, he still performs his duties for the Empire. He is to travel to the province of Seh, where the barbarian hordes are amassing, and he is to protect the Empire from their greed. He is helped by members of his House, his allies, his daughter Lady Nishima and his Spiritual advisor; a young Initiate Brother called Shuyun, who seems to be destined for great things