Chris Bradford is quite an amazing guy, before becoming the hugely successful author of the Young Samurai series he was a professional musician, he is a black belt martial artist, he is funny (check out this video) and he is a nice guy too, all the proceeds for Ninja: First Mission are going to charity!
Naturally, hugely jealous, I really wanted to hate Ninja: First Mission, his first book for Barrington Stoke, but it is hard not to love it.
The first of a series set in Japan in 1580. Taka is training to be a ninja. He is a little over-confident and the start to the story is not what you'd expect. The back story and setting is nicely woven into the story; we learn about his family history, clan, rivals, enemies, friends and training. Super language too, I love the sound of the 'Sixteen Secret Fists' technique.
The First Mission of the title, is a personal and significant challenge for Taka. We are not sure of his true motivation, is he being driven by or vengeance rather than dedication to his ninja clan? This truly adds to the thrill of the adventure.
I am very much looking forward to the continuing series. I enjoyed the realism and historical setting, a real contrast to the Lords of Pain series, and the manga-style illustrations are superb.
By the way, the video I mentioned above, is an introduction to the Ninja Challenge, a duelling card game to be played on or offline, looks brilliant for Reading Matters partnerships, more resources on the Chris Bradford website too.