"The Snow Fox", by Susan Fromberg Shaeffer, is an epic romantic tradgedy which captures both the violent and delicate nature of Medieval Japanese culture. This story revolves around three main characters: Lord Norimasa, Lord Matsuhito, and Lady Utsu.
As the story opens, Lord Norimasa is a powerful samauri lord, and Lady Utsu is an indispensable, enchanting, poetic woman living in his palace. Norimasa commands Lady Utsu to kill the man she loves the most, for he is suspected a spy. Though doing so makes her ill with regret, she complies to the lord''s wishes and kills him in a very gruesome manner. After the deed is accomplished, she vows to never love again, never to marry, and never to have children.
Matsuhito, Norimasa''s right-hand samauri, then comes to live in the palace. During the time of plague, he is sent to guard Lady Utsu, and they eventually fall in love. As the tale unfolds the reader is thrust deep into Medieval Japan as the lovers are torn apart because of the ravaging civil wars and undergo personal challenges which make them question everything about their lives and their very natures. Will they ever reunite? Even if they were to reunite, would they be able to love again?
The graphic war scenes and coy word-play are laced with important issues such as the woman''s place in society, politics, and the all-consuming question: Is true happiness attainable? Is it just an illusion? This is a great mix of adventure, romance, and tradgedy which has a little something for everyone. Between love, poetry, philosophical questions, and severed heads on spikes, this will be a difficult book to put down.