The Deer King, Vol. 2

By Nahoko Uehashi and Masaaki Yamamoto. Released in Japan as “Shika no Ō” by Kadokawa Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Cathy Hirano.

There’s a lot that happens in this book, and much of it is in the back half. But I’ll be honest, for me the book’s main purpose was achieved right before then. We spent the entirety of the first book going back and forth between two narrative strands, one with Van and his struggles, the other with the doctor, Hohsalle, and his attempts to fight the ongoing plague. There was a great deal of tension because we really wanted the two of them to meet, but they never did. The same could be said of this volume as well, though the narrative here is a lot more weighted on the Van side by the end. So when they finally meet, it’s the payoff we’ve been waiting for, and it’s easily my favorite part of the book. Which is odd, because this book is filled with action scenes, tragedy, political wrangling, and good old fashioned terrorism. But yeah, my favorite part is Hohsalle breaking down exactly how antibodies and vaccines work.

We pick up where we left off. Yuna has been kidnapped, and Van is trying to go after her, helped along the way by Sae, the woman who fell off that cliff and distressed Makokan so much. While trying to find her, he ends up meeting Ohfan, chief of the Ahfal Oma, who has big big plans for Van. Mostly as Ohfan’s father, Kemoi, is the Dog King, and can lead the infected dogs to do his bidding. Van, of course, is also able to do this. Now they finally have a way to destroy the invaders once and for all. There is just one slight problem: Van doesn’t want to do this at all, so they’re going to have to somehow trick, blackmail, and use underhanded ruses to get what they want. Meanwhile, Hohsalle continues to struggle to try to get a vaccine for the illness going around, but he might actually be helped by the missing Yuna, who turns out to be able to see the lichen that provide what he needs.

This book has too large a cast. Even the helpful cast list provided at the start is long and unwieldy. It doesn’t help that, because this is an immersive fantasy novel, all the names of fathers and sons look very similar except for a couple of letters. That makes it hard at times to follow along with the actual plot. That’s OK, though, as I’m not sure I was reading this book for the plot. This is a book you read for mood, and in that it excels. That said, there were as few plot-related things I was following. Van and Sae, both middle-aged and grieving, end up having a sort of slow-burn kinda romance that is sweet to see. I also wanted to see if this book was going to be a downer at the end, and the answer is, kinda but not really. Can has everyone he really needs.

If you like mature, serious fantasy, this is a winner. Just… have a good memory for names.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind