Steve Bein (pronounced "Bine") is an author, philosopher, professor, climber, photographer, translator, and world traveler. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and in international translation. Daughter of the Sword, his first novel, has received critical acclaim.
Steve was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a near west suburb of Chicago. His first career as a perpetual student took him to universities in Illinois, Germany, Japan, and Hawai‘i. That all culminated in a PhD in philosophy from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Today Steve is a visiting professor of Asian philosophy and Asian history at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he also teaches courses in philosophy and science fiction.
His other academic interests include bioethics, which led him to a short stint as a visiting researcher at the Mayo Medical School, and environmental philosophy, which led him to see polar bears in Canada and penguins and whales in Antarctica. His more recent travels have taken him to historical sites and art museums around the Mediterranean and to wildlife preserves all across southern Africa.
Steve is a rock climber, mountaineer, SCUBA diver, skier, and avid traveler, and he enjoys just about anything he can do outdoors. He has dabbled in a wide range of martial arts (twenty-five at last count) and he holds black belts in two American forms of combative martial arts. These days he has returned to studying Brazilian Jiujitsu.
Today Steve splits his time between Rochester, Minnesota and Rochester, New York. He lives with Michele, his partner of seventeen years, and their Labs, Kane and Buster.
Daughter of the Swords, FATED BLADES series Book #1
Author: Steve Bein
Mariko Oshiro is not your average Tokyo cop. As the only female detective in the city’s most elite police unit, she has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. While she wants to track down a rumored cocaine shipment, he gives her the least promising case possible. But the case—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.
The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it. Or so says Yamada, and though he has studied swords and swordsmanship all his life, Mariko isn’t convinced.
But Mariko’s skepticism hardly matters. Her investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.
Daughter of the Sword is this conglomeration of historical Japanese lore, true Japanese history and urban fantasy. I received a copy with a really great cover from Literal Addiction which received the copy from the publisher for review purposes. I have to admit this was already on my to-be-read list already so when I had the opportunity to review it for L.A. I jumped at it and though there were times I was lost in the Japanese terminology, I enjoyed learning them. Steve Bein did such a good job with character development that there were times I had to put the book down or scream at the bigotry and misogynistic treatment that Mariko received from her co-workers, especially her new lieutenant.
Mariko is a worldly, intelligent, butt-kicker. She is a great cop, much to the dismay of both her family and her fellow police officers. She has the great honor of being the first female detective and the only one of her rank. She has a family that she is at odds with because of some problems her sister has that has put a wedge between them. They were so close that most in their community can tell the difference in their relationship and are watching and gossiping like the Oshiros are a soap opera to be monitored by all. Their mom is caught in the middle and it is quite interesting to see the dichotomy between the three of them as they juggle the past with the present.
Daughter of the Sword tells the history of several of the swords created by a great master named Inazuma. One of the swords has a terrible history and is the focus of a lot of the backdrop told in the book. There are multiple periods covered that tell the story of the sword and all who have owned it along with a lot of information about samurai. We also learn the history of a Professor Yamada who is very renowned for his knowledge of swords and martial arts. He also has a very deep history and some of his actions possibly reverberate throughout the history of his homeland. There are some aspects of World War II discussed and it allows the reader to see things from Yamada's and his friend's points-of-view.
Another interesting aspect of this story is the relationship between the police and Yakuza. I was a little lost with some of the Japanese terms for the different legs of the organized crime in Japan but, it made for another aspect of this story which is that it is also a Japanese police procedural with tons of action and a fair bit of gore which is to be expected when swords are involved. The sword play was described beautifully and it was interesting to see Mariko’s initiation into her version of a samurai’s way of life. If you love reading about far-away places, historical fiction and fantasy this book should definitely be on your list.
LITERAL ADDICTION's Guest Reviewer gives Daughter of the Sword 4 Skulls.
Daughter of the Sword