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The Guin Saga Book 1: The Leopard Mask [Hardcover]

By Kaoru Kurimoto, Alexander O. Smith (Translator) & Elye J. Alexander (Translator)
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Item description for The Guin Saga Book 1: The Leopard Mask by Kaoru Kurimoto, Alexander O. Smith & Elye J. Alexander...

The Guin Saga is epic heroic fantasy in the smae vein as Robert E. Howard's Conan, the Barbarian. More than a hundred books strong and growing, the saga has sold more than twenty-five million copies in Japan. Vertical will publish the first five installments that comprise "The Marches Episode" arc.

In a single day and night of fierce fighting, the Archduchy of Mongaul has overrun its elegant neighbor, Parros. The lost priest kindgom's surviving royalty, the young twins Rinda and Remus, hide in a forest in the forbidding wil marches. There they are saved by a mysterious creature with a man's body and a leopard's heas, who has emerged from a deep sleep and remembers only his name. Guin.
“A rousing tale of intrepid heroes, horrid villains and wicked supernatural creatures.” –Publishers Weekly

“The Guin Saga was the most [inspiration for Berserk]. I started reading it in junior high and I'm still reading the new volume every month.” –Berserk creator Kentaro Miura

“This is classic fantasy at its best.” –Book Sense (Fall 2003 Science Fiction and Fantasy Top Ten)

“Readers should be warned that once you start this journey, it will be nearly impossible to leave it unfinished.” – SFRevu

“Japan's answer to The Lord of the Rings.” –The Globe and Mail

“Kaoru Kurimoto manages the flurry of situations being set up and resolved like the trick of a putting a hand on a table with fingers spread out, then stabbing a blade between the outstretched digits. The speed and coordination is that amazing.” –Scott Green, Ain't It Cool News

Author Kaoru Kurimoto, winner of the Edogawa Rampo and Yoshikawa Eiji Awards, lives in Tokyo Japan.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.75" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2003
Publisher   Vertical
ISBN  1932234519  
ISBN13  9781932234510  

Availability  0 units.

More About Kaoru Kurimoto, Alexander O. Smith & Elye J. Alexander

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Japanese
2Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic
3Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > General
4Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
5Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Guin Saga Book 1: The Leopard Mask?

Not bad, cartoonish, reminds me of ER Burroughs  Jan 21, 2007
This started like a few other items I've read recently, with a hero who'd lost his memory, so I thought it was a recent trend. It was a surprise to read here that it first appeared in 1979, and that there are over 80 books to the series. It does read like a cartoon epic, with not much depth to the archetypal characters. However it was a pleasant way to while away an afternoon, and somewhat fun to see old Tolkien characters reapper (a wraith of all things). More than anything else it reminded me of Edgar Rice Burroughs Princess of Mars series that I read as a kid, with the stress on bigger than life warriors, an enfeebled civilization, barbarian tribes, etc.
Strictly for (wealthy) fantasy-reading Japanophiles.  Feb 17, 2005
I haven't read this translation. But I have read the first dozen books in the series in Japanese. And while there are some bright spots (I wouldn't have read so many if there weren't), there isn't much to recommend them.

The characters are all recognizable adaptations of standard Western fantasy/sci-fi archetypes-- the lovable rogue, the spunky princess, the ruthless conqueror, and the musclebound warrior in a loincloth (perhaps belying its 1979 origin, there are even distinct Han Solo and Luke Skywalker types). The plot is of pulp-mag quality, which is to say by-the-numbers and chock-full of familiar scenarios. When a dastardly villain captures the muscle-bound hero, what does he do? The only natural thing, of course-- throws him into an arena against a monstrious creature. Yawn. Even the names of the characters and locations will sit uncomfortably with Western readers. They frequently mimic names from Western mythology from Egypt to Scandinavia, and force the reader to associate "Mongaul" with Mongolia, Parros with Paris, Garm with.... Garm. You get the idea. There's even a cringe-inducing character from a savage tribe of monkey-people who worships her human savior-- complete with "funny" attempts by the backwards type to learn the civilized language. Yikes.

In Japanese at least, the language of the books is high-flown. Adjectives are Lovecraftian in their erudition, but repetitive. Dialogue is straight-to-video movie quality.

However, there's still that certain something that's kept me reading the books-- and not just the guilty pleasure of enjoying some literary cheese at bedtime. Kurimoto actually excels at pulling the rug out from under the reader when it comes to major plot developments. Just when you think you've got the story arc all figured out, she has a knack for dropping a genuine surprise on the reader that tells you all bets are off. It's been just enough to keep me going. Just barely enough.

Still, that isn't enough to recommend the series. Although you might be intrigued by the idea of Western-style fantasy from Japan, the product itself is nothing more than a curiosity. If you're going to drop some cash on a fantasy novel-- especially at hardcover prices-- why not read something that's actually a high quality, satisfying experience? Here's a well-written epic for you-- George R R Martin's series that begins with Game of Thrones. No contest.

I've taken the bullet, folks. And as a final note, consider this tidbit of info, which popped up around the fifth Japanese installment or so: when asked if the protagonist's 'leopard head' is actually animated (e.g., when he talks, the lips move) or if it's just a phony head on a man's body, the author responded with a "stay tuned...." answer. As if this isn't something that characters within the story would notice. Like when he eats or drinks (as he often does). Holy fruits! We aren't even privy to what the characters are seeing!?! Aaaarrrghh! To make matters worse, the title character completely disappears from the narrative after six installments or so, and isn't seen again until about the fifteenth book. Or so. At these prices, odds are against this series being marketable enough to last that long in translation. Do you really want to invest $2,500 in a series of fantasy novels?

More power to Japanese literature in translation, but this is a serious misfire. Stay away. Seriously.
Good bedtime story...because it puts the reader to sleep.  Jan 27, 2005
This is one of the most boring fantasy fiction books I've ever read. Not only are the plot and characters ridden with cliches (hero with amnesia, orphaned royal scions, cute subhuman primate friends, bad guys all wear black, et cetera), but the writing style is also painfully stereotypical of cheap mass-produced novels. The latter might be the fault of the translator...I'm hoping that's the case since the editorial review says 86 sequels already came out in Japan. Although the awful plot and characters are certainly the original author's problem.

Example: Fake regional accents: "Yer a great warrior...I'm right glad I didna 'ave ta fight ye either."

Example: Hackneyed descriptive passaged: "The victory cries of the Sem and the crashing sounds of walls collapsing drowned the peaceful morning ballads of the woodland songbirds, while the fire spreading through the keep building shot up fingers of flame that wrote the words of apocalypse in the brightening violet sky above."

Peaceful morning ballads?!? I'm also wondering if names might have been different in the original, since a lot of the people/place names seem to have been pinched from either world history or European legends. This isn't nitpicking; names are important in fantasy if readers are going to feel like the story is 'real'.

That aside, there's a really annoying printing error with pages 113-136 being repeated. So Kurimoto goes to all the trouble of getting a bestseller translated into English, and winds up with a lousy translation and a botched printing. Poor thing.

(and in case anyone thinks I'm some snobby English major who doesn't know anything about heroic fantasy... SF&F is my favourite genre, the fantasy shelves at the public library are my beloved escape from the dryness of college textbooks. There's much better contemporary fantasy out there -- note I said CONTEMPORARY, i'm not the kind of person who thinks it all went downhill after Tolkien either. and I'm a biologist.)
Best Thing Ever  Aug 2, 2004
Ingore what the other reviewers say. They have not read what I have read and I am sick and tired of reviewers saying this is a slash or young adult novel. This is a story of heroic fantasy, one of the MOST UNAPPRIECATED genres to exist. Well, people, simply put, it is one of the best. Michael Moorcock...please remember...
Anyways, it starts out with the royal twins Remus and Rhinda in the Roodwood being attacked by the Count's knights, but are saved by an ammesiac, lepoard-headed man known only as Guin...thus the most epic series of all time begins...Harry Potter, Dan Brown's Robert Langdon, etc.(i.e. every other book series) kiss your ass goodbye!
Why haven't the majors picked up pbk rights?  Jun 25, 2004
This is fantasy writing of the highest caliber, with the depth of character of someone like Philip Pullman, and the marvelously fantastic and detailed world of someone like Tolkein. Kids who got into fantasy with Harry Potter and were led on to Pullman's books should find this extremely enjoyable and to their taste. Only difference being that the characters are not even remotely related from our world, falling or being transported into another.

The action, plot, and pace are very reminiscent of anime or manga. The english translation is more than adequate--not quite top-notch, but perfectly readable.

What's a wicked popular trade fiction category? Fantasy, specifically young adult. What's the Next Big Thing in the book trade with young and especially female readers? Manga. What one series combines the strengths of both? The Guin Saga.

Why one of the bigger publishing houses has not bought rights to this title and hyped it as the next big thing is a complete mystery to me...


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