“Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old.” – George R. R. Martin

Author JL Snyder’s novel ‘Battle Cry 2’ takes forward the narrative of Kai-Ling, an adolescent samurai warrior introduced to the world in the first book Battle Cry. Tragedy struck her life even before she was born when her samurai father was murdered in America. She was then born and brought up in Japan under the watchful eyes of her uncle who imparted warrior’s discipline and Katana fighting skills in her. But the fire that grew unabated to seek vengeance on her father’s killers was all her own. Having mastered her fighting skills, she goes to America to confront the savages who took her future away from her.

Although subject wise the book treads on heavy and dark themes, the treatment of its narrative is quite light and seems to keep in mind the targeted younger audience. This can be seen across the book, be it in the description of the action scenes and the gore or the language the characters use when they are angry. While the first book was all about Kai-Ling’s journey; here she has to deal with the people and truths that she was searching for her whole life. And she has to deal with this confrontation from day one until she finds absolution from her past.

Just like the first book, here too there are only a few characters giving company to Kai-Ling in the narrative. The characters are not only varied in appearance but also realistic in their presentation. But the book truly does belong to Kai-Ling, the pint sized dynamite. She’s not a finished product by any means and is someone still learning to keep her emotions in check and perfect her fighting skills. It’s her courage, dexterity and an ethical code that she adheres to while fighting that makes her stand apart.

The story in Battle Cry 2 lacks the intensity or purposefulness that we saw in the first book, but it’s the strong characterizations that drives the narrative. JL Snyder does well with the action scenes, which are both innovative and imaginative. The description of the place and the environment from a historical perspective too gets a thumbs up. The animations and sketches in the book are simple and evocative.

I would recommend it to readers who enjoy reading about samurais and like anime style plotting and storytelling.