Originally posted 02/18/11 in my meta/review blog
For some reason while reading this book, I kept thinking, “this reminds me of The King of Elfland’s Daughter.” Dragon Sword and Wind Child does not have a great deal in common with that novel, and by “doesn’t have a great deal in common,” I actually mean “is nothing at all like.” It did however have a very strong “feel” reminiscent of Lord Dusany’s writing.
Our Heroine is a young woman named Saya who was found lost and wandering in the forest as a small child by an older couple. She has no memory of her home aside from terrible recurring nightmares. As far as she knows, she has always lived in the land of Toyoashihara, a kingdom a kingdom ruled by the children of the God of Light, which is eternally at war with the Goddess of Darkness and a nation of people known as Ground Spiders.
After a fateful encounter with a mysterious group of people who appear to recognize her, followed by an encounter with Tsukishiro, a Prince of Light, she discovers that she is the Water Maiden, and a princess of the Children of Darkness. In all of her previous incarnations, she is drawn toward the Light and falls in love with the prince, and in every incarnation up to this one, she eventually commits suicide, usually by drowning. (This is very annoying to the Prince’s sister, Princess Teruhi, who tells Saya that if she tries to drown herself “again” that Teruhi will fish her out with a rake.)
It turns out that the reason why Saya tends to kill herself is the discovery that the Children of Light are actually really scary and do horrible things in the name of keeping the world “orderly.” This time around, Saya manages to avoid her fate when she encounters Chihaya, the third child of the God of Light. Chiyaha had been kept hidden by his brother and sister because he is very odd. He is an innocent with a peculiar way of looking at things, and his power is to leave his body and possess animals. He is also the keeper of the Dragon Sword, a powerful magical item that had previously belonged to the Children of Darkness. (Specifically, the Dragon Sword had been kept by the Water Maiden, who lost it the first time she died.)
Saya befriends Chihaya, and both escape to the side of the Children of Darkness. It is eventually revealed that Chihaya was meant to wield the sword, which fosters a great deal of worry and distrust toward Chihaya. (The Children of Darkness want him on their side, but they also do not want him on their side because he is a Child of Light.)
There is some romance involved with this story, though the romantic aspects are sort of lightly skipped over. I really enjoyed the book, and the world-building involved with the story. On the other hand, I feel that in a lot of ways that the pacing of the plot went from point a) to point b) a little too quickly.