A Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature

Japanese / Japan

Shika no ō
(The deer king)

Uehashi, Nahoko (text)
Tōkyō: Kadokawa Shoten, 2014. –
565 p. + 554 p.
(Vol 1: Ikinokotta mono; Vol. 2: Kaette ikumono)
ISBN 978-4-04-101888-0; 978-4-04-101889-7

Multi-ethnicity – Coexistence – Plague – Fantasy novel

In “Shika no ō”, the most recent two-volume fantasy novel of Nahoko Uehashi, the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award winner, different cultures make use of “fleet-footed deer” and “fire horses”. Set in the small border country of Aquafa, which has been conquered by the Zol empire, some people choose to intermingle with the new settlers, while others resist. Caught rebels are sent to a salt mine as slaves. After wolf-like dogs attack the mine, a strange plague kills everyone working there except the slave warrior Van and a little girl. Van, who is from Aquafa, takes care of the girl. A young doctor develops a cure for the plague, but finds that the oppressed Aquafa people are using the contagious dogs in order to try to retrieve their land. Taking the biology of the human body as a metaphor for the interactions between different cultures and people, the novel explores the patterns of human coexistence. In doing so, it creates a suspenseful drama about dominance and oppression in ethnic conflicts. (Age: 13+)