I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legend of the Five Rings book Curse of Honor by David Annandale, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

Secondly I am a friend of David’s on Facebook, and whilst we aren’t best buds, we do interact with each other on occasion and I consider him a class person.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

I am gonna get the big bit out the way first, if you listen to Edge of Empire, you will know I am not a big fan of David’s writing style. Frankly I find it difficult to process and it’s very short sentences which doesn’t give the best flow for me to read.

But he is good at weird stuff, which in Warhammer translates to stuff to do with the warp. I also think he is best when writing shorter works, such as novellas and short stories.

So let’s crack on with a review then!

What is Legend of the Five Rings

L5R as it’s often known is a fantasy setting for a series of card games and RPGs originally published by AEG, but now taken care of by Fantasy Flight.

It’s set in the empire of Rokugan which is heavily feudal Japan influenced, with a bit of other East Asian influences, like China and Korea thrown in as well.

It’s a fantasy setting with the usual fantasy trips of goblins and rat men, but also oni and kitsune too.

In the Empire there are several great clans, made up of various families, and in this novel we focus on the Crab Clan, who are considered the least cultured of all clans.

Their task in life is to guard the rest of the empire from the taint of the Shadowlands on the Carpenter Wall.

The Story

The story has two main protagonists, initially we have Haru, the heir to the castle of Striking Dawn, and frankly he is a bit of an incompetent warrior.

He discovers when leading a caravan to the castle, a hidden city outpost of the Shadowlands, and in a desperate attempt to prove himself a worthy heir, leads a disaster out expedition to purge the city.

Our second protagonist, Barako, the object of Harus desire, is a more level headed warrior, a woman who wishes only to serve the castle and protect the greater empire. She is a great character with a strong sense of duty, I really love that about her.

When Haru is returned to the castle, well then we get some bad things happening, which leads us into a horror whodunit, with a twist, which to be honest, I kinda saw a mile off.

The story has a heavy horror element, and this is something David is really good at, and yea the sentence shortness was a bit irritating, but I have to say, he is getting better as a writer, he really is.

Not that I could ever write of course, but unlike with some of his earlier work, I couldn’t put this down once I picked it up and read it over a couple of days.

The descriptions of the hidden city were really good and very much put you there in its weirdness and I got a real good feel for Striking Dawn.

He also had the characters kept very much on edge, with absolutely no time to rest, and I found myself feeling their grief, anger, despair, rage and exhaustion.


I won’t lie, I went in with low expectations, L5R was never really my bag, and as I said, David writing doesn’t usually click with me.

But I have to say, it’s an enjoyable read, very well written, very engaging and very well edited, with a nice flow to it.

I kinda want to know what happens next at Striking Dawn.

Solid 4 out of 5 stars.

The book is released on 6th October.

I will be reading The Death of Fallowhearth next by Robbie MacNivan, I had intended it to be The Head of Mimir, but that has expired in my NetGallery account.