I’ve had a few people recommend that I read Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen trilogy of historical fantasy novels set in an alternate feudal Japan, and I’ve always meant to do so. I just never bothered hunting down used paperback editions. According to SFSignal, I no longer have that excuse.
That’s right, people: the World Fantasy Award-winning author’s Tomoe Gozen trilogy is coming to kick your Kindle’s ass. Open Road Media will be releasing electronic editions in April.
The SFSignal article has summaries of the books, but you might be wondering, “Who the Hell is Tomoe Gozen?” Well, if you think The Bride from Kill Bill was badass, that’s bupkis.
Helen Craig McCullough’s 1988 translation of The Tale of the Heike, an epic compiled prior to 1330 that detailed the struggle for control of Japan between the Taira and Minamoto clans in the Genpei War (1180-1185), describes Tomoe Gozen as follows:
Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.
See that last part? Yoshinaka would send her in to battle leading his vanguard. That’s how badass she was. Of course, nobody ever found her grave, so it’s possible Tomoe Gozen was more a mythological figure than a historical one.
Then again, maybe she never died. Maybe Death came for her, found her “ready to confront a demon or a god”, and said, “I DON’T GET PAID ENOUGH FOR THIS.” She might still be around somewhere, meditating in solitude but ready to collect some heads.
Actually, that could be a fun story: Tomoe Gozen coming down from the mountains and finding herself in modern Japan, but not like Rip Van Winkle. She didn’t sleep the centuries away; she just never noticed the passage of time until the world intruded upon her solitude.