Sairō’s Claw by Virginia McClain

Torako has done many things to protect the valley that she calls home, but she’s never looted a corpse before. So when the katana she steals off the still-cooling body of a bandit turns out to be possessed by a grumpy wolf kami, she can only assume it’s because she’s somehow angered the spirits. An impression that’s only reinforced when she returns home to find her wife abducted and her daughter in hiding. But angry spirits or no, Torako isn’t about to let bandits run off with the love of her life, even if it means taking their 3 year old on a rescue mission.

In all Kaiyo’s years as Captain of the Wind Serpent she has never once questioned her admiral’s orders. So when she receives the command to abduct a civilian scribe with the help of fifteen felons, she registers her objections, but does as she is bid. Yet, as the mission unfolds, Kaiyo finds herself questioning everything from her loyalties to her convictions. 

As Torako and Kaiyo’s fates cross like dueling blades, their persistence is matched only by their fury, until they uncover a series of truths they may never be ready to accept. (taken from Goodreads)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Sairō’s Claw is available for purchase now.

Technically, Sairō’s Claw is the third book in a series. However, it reads as a standalone. You definitely don’t need to read the other books to understand what’s going on.

Influenced loosely by Japanese culture (though taking place in an entirely fictitious world), Sairō’s Claw is an immersive story, peopled with well-executed characters. The world itself is fascinating and richly described. I really appreciated that the author provided a glossary of Japanese terms, although the context that she used the words in throughout the book made it pretty clear what they meant. I really liked how well the world was described, although for me it was the amazingly three-dimensional characters that stood out.

There are several important characters in Sairō’s Claw, and the story is told from multiple points of view. Each personality is distinctive and adds something to the narrative. While each character was interesting in their own way, I liked Raku and Torako the best. Raku is a scribe who finds something she really shouldn’t, something that someone doesn’t want found. Trouble with interest finds her as a result. I also really liked Torako, her kick-butt warrior of a wife. The thing I liked about them really had to do with their love for their daughter, and for each other. It’s rare to find a fantasy where being a mom or wife is treated as anything other than either an unwanted inconvenience, or the inevitable death that sparks a murderous revenge story. We need more loving and hardcore moms in fantasy, please!

Sairō’s Claw was full of adventure and heart. I really enjoyed author Virginia McClain’s work. Her skillful writing and excellent characters are exactly what I enjoy in fantasy. I recommend this book to readers who love books with lots of action and who appreciate well-developed characters.

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