Foreword Reviews

Enzan

The Far Mountain

2014 INDIES Finalist
Finalist, Thriller & Suspense (Adult Fiction)

A Zen master, a princess, and a martial artist burst out of their archetypes to reveal deep and likable characters.

Martial arts, a frail teacher, terrorists, and a troubled princess: only a talented author could mix such disparate elements into a novel sure to please a broad audience. From award-winning author John Donohue comes Enzan: The Far Mountain, the fifth outing in the Connor Burke series.

Connor Burke, martial arts teacher and master of the bokken, a wooden Japanese sword, finds himself reluctantly wresting a twenty-three-year-old Japanese princess, Chie Miyazaki, from her North Korean boyfriend, Lim, after compromising photos of her appear. The promiscuous and drug-addled royal young woman will not go willingly, however, so her family wants Connor to kidnap her. Wanting to protect his aging teacher, Yamashita, Connor agrees to fetch Chie, even as he suspects the royal family of toying with him.

As an experienced martial artist, the author uses simple yet evocative language to draw the audience into the protagonist’s world. Of the meditation that accompanies each swordplay session, Connor remarks, “It was … an order to clear the mind and become one with all things. But … every one of us … had spent the last two hours … learning the finer points of killing someone with a sword.”

Connor represents a refreshing, self-aware hero who knows his flaws yet still makes mistakes. In other words, Connor exhibits the human tendency to say or do the wrong thing but to manage to come out alive in the end. He has the right mix of courage and humanity to make him endearing. When the audience finally meets Chie and Yamashita face-to-face, they too round out to more than the stereotypical royal brat and wise aphorism-spouting Zen master. Chie ends up being self-aware in her own way, even as she remains overly-sexualized and objectified. Yamashita’s hidden depths emerge in the novel’s surprising ending.

Connor has three days to find Chie by himself before Yamashita will discover a diary that Connor fears will get his teacher involved in the intrigue. When the book shifts into journal format, the narrative flow is interrupted without any differentiation in formatting, such as dates at the beginning of each entry. Furthermore, they are written in the second person, an abrupt switch from Connor’s first-person viewpoint, and the only awkwardness in this otherwise stupendous thriller.

Reviewed by Jill Allen

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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