When Horace travels to the exotic land of Nihon-Ja, it isn’t long before he finds himself pulled into a battle that is not his—but one he knows in his heart he must wage. A kingdom teeters on the edge of chaos when the Nihon-Ja Emperor, a defender of the common man, is forcibly overthrown. Only Horace, Will, and his Araluen companions can restore the Emperor to the throne. Victory lies in the hands of an inexperienced group of fighters, and it’s anybody’s guess who will make the journey home to Araluen.
In the last book of the series, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja brings many of the characters from previous books together. The story follows the same format as the other books, ending with an epic battle. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja teaches that all men have value and that each person has a unique skill. Even though not everyone is able to be a warrior, everyone is important—diplomats, soldiers, attorneys, and the common man. Hoping to overthrow the Emperor, Ariska forms a rebel army and his brutal ways are in stark contrast with the Emperor, who is “kind and honest and incredibly courageous. He’s trying to better the lot of the common people here and give them a bigger say in things.”
Alyss and Evalyn also play an integral part in the battle. The two women are never seen as silly maidens. Instead, they are courageous, brave, and imaginative. Even though the two girls do not get along, they are able to put their differences aside and work together for the greater good. In the end, the girls discuss their conflicts, which allows them to understand each other and finally become friends.
The Ranger’s Apprentice series reinforces the importance of friendship, loyalty, courage, and imagination. Even though most of the books have the same format, each story is unique and interesting. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja shows that a ruler’s strength does not come from brute force. Instead, a ruler is “a man who would forsake the highest position in the land to save the lives of his subjects.” Even though many of the characters are from different countries and have completely different cultures, they respect each other’s cultures and do not expect others to change.
The Emperor of Nihon-Ja concludes the Ranger Apprentice series. The series is a fast-paced and entertaining series that also has positive lessons. By the end of the series, readers will feel like Halt, Horace, and Will are their friends. For readers looking for another great series to enjoy, the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce would make an excellent addition to your reading list because the story contains action, adventures, and knights.
- The Senshi class tries to overthrow the Emperor. A soldier tells about the beginning of the uprising. “Many of the Emperor’s clan are dead already. They tried to resist Arisaka, and his men killed them.”
- Soldiers ambush the Emperor and his traveling companions. “Horace heard a savage hiss as something flew past his face, missing him by inches. Then he saw George swaying, a long arrow buried in the upper part of his arm. As he watched, George slid sideways from the saddle and thudded onto the rough, churned-up earth of the track.” George survives.
- Three soldiers attack the Emperor. “One grabbed the reigns of the Emperor’s horse, and as Shigeru drew his sword and struck at him, the man ducked under the horse’s neck to avoid the blow.” Horace jumps in to save the Emperor. The soldier “felt a moment of surprise when Horace’s horizontal stroke took him in the rib cage, exposed as he raised the sword high, and smashed through his lacquered leather armor. Then he felt nothing.”
- Another soldier attacks Horace, but Horace “kicked flat-footed into the side of his knee. The man’s leg collapsed under him and he stumbled forward with a shrill cry of pain. A quick thrust cut off his cry, and he fell at Horace’s feet.” By the end of the ambush, seven of the attacking soldiers are dead and two of the Emperor’s men are dead. The ambush is described over four pages.
- While traveling to Nihon-Ja on a boat, pirates attack. “The riders Halt had singled out were in the act of shooting again when the two long, heavy arrows hissed down and struck them. Halt’s target yelled in pain, dropping his bow and clutching at the arrow that had suddenly slammed into his upper arm.” One pirate is killed and one is injured before the pirates flee.
- When the rebel army finds the Emperors’ coin in a peasant’s house, “they killed him. Then they ran amok through the village, burning cabins, killing women and the old people.”
- A lieutenant in the rebel army plans to kill a village leader. Halt pretends to be the leader, and “the lieutenant raised the long weapon above his head, preparing to sweep down… The kneeling headman suddenly came up onto his right knee. There was another ringing hiss and his hand emerged from under the ragged Kikori cloak with a gleaming Senshi short sword… he thrust forward, burying the blade in the lieutenant’s midsection.”
- After the lieutenant is killed, a battle ensues. The village is burned and “gradually, the sounds of fighting died away as the last of Arisaka’s men were cut down… Four of Shigeru’s warriors also lay silent on the bloodstained soil of the common ground, and another two were nursing wounds.” The scene is described over three pages.
- A ship of pirates attempts to overtake another ship. Evalyn uses her sling and “one of the shouting, gesticulating pirates in the bow suddenly toppled over, folding up like an empty garment…” Evalyn shoots again and “the pirate skipper abruptly reared up, clutching his forehead, then crashed over backwards onto the deck.” The Skandian’s attack the pirate ship, disabling it. During the process, “nearly half the pirates were killed or disabled.” The scene is described over four pages.
- As the Emperor flees from the rebel army, Horace watches the men who are engaging the army, allowing the Emperor to escape. “Several bodies were slumped over the hedge or sharpened stakes that had been driven into the ground of the riverbank. More were visible, drifting slowly downstream in the deeper water below the ford. The river itself was streaked with red ribbons of blood.” As men begin to die, the rebel army continues to attack. “The ten men with Arisaka crowded forward, slashing and stabbing, in a compact mass… Shigeru’s cousin staggered to one side, his sword falling from his hand. He doubled over in agony and fell to one knee. Almost contemptuously, Arisaka took a pace forward and struck again. Shukin fell face down on the sandy riverbank. He didn’t move…” The battle is described over four pages.
- The Emperor tries to get to safety, Horace holds off a warrior. The warrior “stumbled forward, off balance. As he tried to recover, Horace made a quick, darting lunge and took him in the left thigh…” Horace uses his sword, which “crumbled the lacquered leather body armor the Senshi wore, crushing the ribs behind it. The man gasped in pain.” The man falls off a bridge. Several others also fall of the bridge falling to their death. The scene is described over three pages.
- When the Arisaka’s army attacks the Emperor’s hideout, some of the men are killed when “rocks showered over the ramparts, hurled down.” Some of the Emperor’s men were killed when “an arrow slammed into the defender’s chest and sent him staggering back off the rampart.”
- During the above attack, the rebel army finds themselves in a trap. “A vast pile of rocks, earth and timber tumbled end over end down the wall, bouncing, smashing, crushing anything and everything in its path.” Several of the men are killed. The attacking army lost more than thirty comrades. The battle is described over five pages.
- The Kikori are loyal to the Emperor. They engage the enemy. The Kikori work as one and use shields to protect each other. While the Senshi attack with their swords, “short, razor-sharp iron blades began to stab out of the gaps in the wall, skewering arms, legs, bodies, aiming for gaps in the Senshi armor… Some of the Senshi did manage to cause casualties.” After many deaths, the Senshi retreat. The scene is described over three pages.
- After the Senshi retreat, many of the warriors refuse to go back into the battle. One man speaks up, explaining the reason. His leader’s “sword flashed in a blur of reflected light, striking the man in the gap between helmet and breastplate. With a startled, choking cry, the Senshi staggered and fell.”
- Alyss and Evalyn kill a large cat that had been hunting people. Alyss uses herself as bait and when the cat jumps on Alyss’s shield, Evalyn uses her sling. Evalyn’s “shot hit the animal with a sickening crack, taking it on the left shoulder, smashing and splintering the bone beneath the fur… Evalyn placed her third shot carefully, sending it crashing into the animal’s rear left hip. Again, bone crunched and the tiger’s left rear leg suddenly went limp.” The scene is described over three pages.
- The book ends with a multi-chapter epic battle. The battle’s violence is similar to the battles that were described above.
Drugs and Alcohol
- When Horace and Evalyn announce their engagement, Halt yells, “Break out some of our special provisions, and some wine and ale. We’re having a party tonight!”
- “Oh God,” “for God’s sake,” and “my god” are used as an exclamation several times.
- Darn is used once. Horace says, “That’s the trouble with you attorneys. You’re too darned literal.”
- “By Gorlog’s beard,” “by Gorlog’s teeth,” and “by Gorlog’s toenails” are each used as an exclamation once.
- Evalyn calls Alyss a “great gangly cow.”
- A Skandian, Niles, calls the pirates “raggedy-bum backstabbers.” The Skandian’s captain yells, “Get back on board, you great idiot!”
- Someone calls Arisaka a “bantam rooster.”
- “What the devil” is used once.
- In Nihon-Ja, the Emperor is “a person whose accession to the throne was guided and consecrated by the gods. To rebel against him was an unthinkable sacrilege.”
- When Halt agrees to let Alyss and Evalyn go on a dangerous mission, Halt says, “But god help me when Will and Horace find out about it.”