The second book in “The Tale of Shikanoko,” Lian Hearn’s four-part fantasy series, necessarily suffers from having neither a real beginning nor an end. “Autumn Princess, Dragon Child” spends most of its time picking up the pieces left over from the previous denouement and getting everybody in position for the coming climax. It is a book that cannot stand alone and requires a good grasp of the various characters and their shifting loyalties.

That said, there is much in this novel to keep the reader hooked and keen to see where the stories go. Much like the second season of “Game of Thrones,” the main protagonists are young and inexperienced. The “Game of Thrones” comparison holds water in another way: Everyone is on the move, and the roads of this fictional, fantastical Japan are jammed with hunters and their prey. Akihime and Yoshimori, the true Emperor, are on the run, while Lord Kiyoyori’s daughter Hina is held hostage in a velvet cage, awaiting marriage to her late father’s enemy. Shikanoko, the hero of book one, plays a more peripheral role, licking his wounds from his first encounter with the powerful Prince Abbot and preparing for a second, final battle.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.