Night Parade of 100 Demons - Legend of the Five Rings

  • Posted on: 26 February 2021
  • By: Sevhina

Isao Ryotora is dispatched to the remote mining village of Seibo Mura following a bizarre attack by various creatures from the spirit realm known as yokai. As a shugenji, one who can communicate with the kami, Ryotora is not a warrior and he has little experience dealing with yokai. Not that anyone has really dealt with a situation like this before where so many unrelated yokai went from simple harassment to murderous destruction over the three nights of the full moon. The entire situation is made even more uncomfortable due to the presence of a scholarly samurai of an influential family, Asako Sekkin. His elegant manners only remind Ryotora that he was born a peasant in this very village before being adopted into a samurai family, but Sekkin is determined to help Ryotora with his investigation. This is because he has been plagued by a dog spirit that has allowed him no rest until he arrived in Seibo Mura. A great evil is rising but with Sekkin's knowledge of yokai folklore and Ryotora's skills as a shugenji they might be able to unravel the secret history of this place and save the empire.

Night Parade is a novel set in the Legend of the Five Rings game world, which is a fantasy version of feudal Japan where much of the folklore is real. This is not a stereotypical depiction of samurai but one that portrays them as a complete social caste rather than just sword wielding warlords. Please note my complete ignorance of both the L5R setting and actual Japanese history and culture. As usual Brennan provides just the right amount of background for the environment to feel natural and realistic. Sekkin is the youngest son of an influential family who has never before volunteered for any sort of responsibility and he has come to Seibo Mura for selfish reasons but finds that he likes feeling useful. Ryotora has a more nuanced character that has to work his way through conflicted feelings about his family, both adopted and blood, as well as learning how to trust and work with another. Both are attracted to the other but they are too busy convincing themselves they can be heroes and save the world to think about anything else.

The story builds slowly but steadily toward a satisfying conclusion. I think I preferred Brennan's Warrior/Witch duology but would give Night Parade higher marks than the Onyx Court series. It is definitely in line with the rest of her writing and lacks the forced or artificial feel that often afflicts novels set in game worlds. While Brennan writes fantasy the tone of her books is more intellectual sci-fi than mass market fantasy. There is enough complexity to be interesting without confusing and her technical skills as a writer are again excellent. From comments online it appears that the book is also faithful to the L5R setting so it's a good choice for fans of the game looking for a new author. While out in paperback and e-book its not yet out on Audible.