Title: Shaman Warrior Vol 9
Author: Park Joong-Ki
Publisher: Dark Horse
May Contain Spoilers
The final volume in Park Joong-Ki’s lavishly illustrated Shaman Warrior saga brings Yaki face to face with the forces of Kugai, now led by Yuda – the Death Lord who executed her father. Yaki is also reunited with Nejo, a fellow orphan who stole her heart when they were being raised in the brutal Butcher Camps. Fickle fate’s placed Nejo in the middle of a violent misunderstanding, however, and his strength and resolve will be further tested after a horrible accident separates him from Yaki once again. Heartbreak, horror, and hope – amazingly enough, this volume has it all! After she inherits her father’s shaman powers, the beast inside Yaki is unleashed, and she fights to avenge her father, protect her endangered, mystical shaman bloodline, and find her place in a war-torn country.
The final volume of Shaman Warrior is a rip-roaring monsoon of action, vengeance, and blood. All of the major players in the story clash together like pinballs for a no-holds barred beat down. Lives are lost, secrets are revealed, and more questions were left for me by the time I reached the last page. The entire series highlights individual struggles to survive in a world where the powerless are victimized, and pawns are sacrificed for one kingdom’s cruel ambitions. Once the usefulness of the powerful shaman warriors has come to an end, the kingdom that created them begins to fear them and wants them destroyed. They are weapons whose value has come to an end, and so a bloody cleansing is unleashed on Kugai’s former battle stars. There is no retirement program for anyone in Kugai or its conquered territories, and people are treated like trash and thrown out like so much garbage.
I’ve mentioned before that the world of Shaman Warrior is very bleak and unforgiving. That aspect of the series will stay with me the longest. The quest for revenge doesn’t care how many victims are left in the wake of an unrelenting betrayal that produces nothing but hatred and more death. Even a little girl, the most tragic victim of all, isn’t immune to the bitter stab of Kugai’s fickle rulers. Having known nothing but bloodshed and conflict, what other path was there for her to follow but one that blindly leads to more violence?
The images of pain and struggle will also stay with me long after having finished the series. The make-up that adorned Yaki’s smooth features is a blend of dirt and bruises, and her clothing is a fashionista’s worst nightmare; tattered collections of cloth and mismatched garments stained with blood and sweat. When your every effect is focused on survival, outer adornments mean nothing. The rugged landscapes and lean character designs captured the mood of the story perfectly. The bold illustrations depicting the battles presented a visual feast of tension and excitement, especially in this last volume. It was impossible to put down before reaching the final page.
Shaman Warrior is a great action series, but it didn’t really hook me until the focus shifted to Yaki. She grew from a frightened, helpless child into a strong and confident warrior who was ready to risk her life for what she believed in. Her character development, as well as the gorgeous covers, kept me reading to the end.
Review copy provided by Dark Horse