TITLE: The Leopard Mask (The Guin Saga #1)
AUTHOR: Kaoru Kurimoto
PUBLICATION: 2003 by Vertical, Inc.
In a single day and night of fierce fighting, the militaristic duchy of Mongaul has overrun its elegant neighbor, the kingdom of Parros. The lost kingdom’s surviving royalty are the young, platinum blond twins Rinda and Remus. The twins, hiding in a forest in the wild borderlands, are saved from a Mongaul patrol by a creature with a man’s body and a leopard’s head. He–or it–has just emerged from a deep sleep and remembers only his–or its–name. Guin.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .
You can blame my interest in the Guin Saga on Netflix. It kept popping up on recommendations and the prospect of a man wearing a leopard mask that wouldn’t come off intrigued me. Then I discovered there were more than one hundred books released in Japan (cue the jaw-dropping!) and even better, I was able to get the first three books from the library that had been translated. So goes the obsession for the leopard warrior!
The Leopard Mask proves to be descriptive enough without going overboard on details. It may also dip into purple prose a bit, but not overly much. There’s plenty of action later on for the readers who enjoy detailed battles. The reader is given a pretty good assessment of characters too, I think.
The storyline itself doesn’t differ a whole lot from the anime that I’ve watched covering this segment, just changing the order of some scenes in truth. There’s nothing spectacular about the plot… it’s pretty average. I noticed a segment in the back from the author that said she was a slave to heroic fantasy so that’s pretty much what the book is. Characters don’t seem perfect either because there’s a portion of the story where Rinda is trying to communicate with the Sem child Suni and “in typical royal fashion” expects Suni to learn her language, but makes no effort to understand the speech of the Sem. Flaws do exist.
The one factor that I love about both the anime and the book that I’ve read so far is obviously Guin. He has a powerfully sculpted body and the battle scars show his warrior status, but I get a kick out of the fact that he has the head of a leopard. My predilection for Egyptian mythology probably makes me most susceptible to him. He doesn’t say much because he’s more of an action-oriented individual. If I was ranking characters I want to give Guin five rings! So obviously he’s been added to my list of fictional crushes.
There was one major problem with this book, but it was a manufacturing error. After making a little headway into chapter four, the final chapter, even though the page numbers continued the story repeated from the later portion of chapter three. And so the whole part about how Guin rescues Rinda and Suni from their cell is missing because it just starts up in the middle of a dialogue on the next page! This started happening about fifty pages from the end. I don’t know if there has been a second printing that fixed this problem, but this is what happened with the edition that I possessed from the library.