The Heart of Iuchiban

The Heart of Iuchiban
Evan Dicken
Published date

“The Heart of Iuchiban” by Even Dicken is a novel set in The Legend of the Five Rings universe, combining feudal Japan with magic and fantasy elements. If you follow my profile for a while, you probably know that I love this universe and always eagerly read all the wonderful books set in this world.

This story is pretty dark, with overwhelming forces of pure, eldritch evil lurking just behind the corner, waiting to swallow the whole world. You can expect armies of undead marching to destroy the world, twisted curses and elaborate and cruel dungeons full of nasty surprises. I must note that I loved the term Bloodspeakers to call those who dabbled in dark and forbidden arts, twisting the power of names. It was perfectly fitting to the villains’ nature.

Regarding the characters, we have a whole ensemble of all seven representatives of each great clan of Rokugan. What was remarkable was that each and every one of them had their own agendas and aspirations. Though they were forced to work together to prevent the ultimate evil from breaking free, it was not always enough to keep them from squabbling or antagonising each other. If you’re familiar with the universe, you know that the clans have a long history of hostilities and grudges that go centuries back. So, all things considered, that particular team might not have been the best choice to save the day. But that only made the story more entertaining to read.

The only downside of this was, as usual, with so many characters PoV, the difficulty to get into the story initially. Each chapter is written from a different character’s perspective, so it’s a bit confusing at the beginning. But once all the protagonists meet and face their adversaries together, the story flows much better.

I must give the author extra credit for the creative design of the whole sacred tomb setting. While the characters were trying to find their way there, they faced numerous challenges and puzzles, mostly perilous and deadly. I loved how much thought went into this part of the story; the whole set-up was brilliantly devious.

The ending was pretty unexpected, leaving the door open for the next book to follow. You will surely enjoy this one if you like dark and chilling stories and don’t mind a high body count and bloodshed.