I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legend of the Five Rings book The Flower Path by Josh Reynolds, 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.
I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.
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 tropes of goblins and rat men, but also oni and kitsune too.
This is the third of the Daidoji Shin mysteries and returns to the City of the Rich Frog as the theatre troupe Shin became patron of in the first book, face their opening night at the brand new Firefox Theatre, built to be the finest theatre outside of the Imperial Capital to Shin’s exacting specifications.
In his efforts to ensure success, Shin has recruited the most famous actress in all of Rokugan, Noma Etsuko, to lead the troupe since its original lead actress has left after the events of the first book.
But she doesn’t make fast friends, rather she makes many enemies amongst the cast and crew of the troupe, many of whom curse the day she joined them.
But as the curtain rises, and she walks the Flower Path of the Firefox Theatre for the first time, she collapses on stage, and subsequently dies backstage.
Knowing the killer must still be in the theatre, Shin seeks to uncover the mystery of her death as it soon becomes clear, that she had enemeies beyond the cast.
The clock is ticking and can Shin find the killer, before the show ends!
This is a bit of a slow start, there is a huge cast, and there is a big need to establish exactly how hated the victim is, so there is a lot of exposition as the great and good of The City of The Rich Frog descend upon the theatre for the first performance.
Yeah the initial start is a bit slow, but its overall well paced and very entertaining.
Daidoji Shin is a wonderful character, a Rokugan Sherlock Holmes but with his own distinctive qualities.
It might not appeal to all readers, this is a book that I think would struggle to stand on its own as so much of the cast made appearances in the first two books and this story kind of expects you to have a lot of background knowledge already.
Anyway I loved this book and cannot wait for Three Oaths, the next in the series!
5 out of 5 Stars
The Flower Path is out now as a paperback, eBook and audiobook!