Review: The Market of 100 Fortunes by Marie Brennan

The Market of 100 Fortunes by Marie Brennan

Timy reviews The Market of 100 Fortunes, the third book by Marie Brennan in the Legend of the Five Rings universe.

An eARC was received by the publisher, Aconyte via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book is set to be published on February 20, 2024.

About the Book
Series:Legend of the Five Rings #3
Date of Publishing:February 20, 2024
Trigger Warnings:grief, mild violence
Page count:336

Possible fit for The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge 2024 prompts:

Joker prompt that goes with anything: Now We Are Free

Anywhere Away From HereKiss My Ass
HandwrittenYou Are My Home
PsychoSummer Jam
AddictedNew Song
The MysticSay It
Queen of KingsThe Legend of Mother Swan
Accidentally in LoveThrough Glass
White FlagRoad to Joy
Sob StoryGive That Wolf a Banana
Always HalloweenKill Your Conscience
TherapyGhosts & Monsters
Low LifeChasing Stars
Book Blurb
The Market of 100 Fortunes by Marie Brennan

Enthralling fantasy mystery from the world of Legend of the Five Rings as two samurai risk everything to rescue an old friend from the clutches of a shadowy trickster

Having vanquished demons and halted invasions of devious creatures from the Spirit Realms, Asako Sekken and Agasha no Isao Ryotora are finally going to be married. But when a note from their old ally Sayashi arrives unexpectedly, the samurai find themselves dragged into another supernatural mystery.

Their investigation leads them to Crane lands and an ancient market ruled by a mysterious being. Now Sekken and Ryotora must use all their wit and charm to save Sayashi from a hundred year bargain before they find themselves embroiled in a conflict with a forgotten deity of unimaginable power.

Quote of the Book

I’m going to start this review with a warning: please don’t make the same mistake that I did. When I requested The Market of 100 Fortunes on NetGalley, I had no idea this was part of a trilogy. Actually, this is the third book of a trilogy. I only realized when I started reading and dug a bit deeper than a glance at its GR page. I picked this book up because 1) the blurb intrigued me and I really want to read more books based on Japanese culture, 2) I’ve been meaning to read one of Marie Brennan‘s books since forever and 3) I thought it was a standalone which was set to be published on my birthday (the date since changed) and it seemed like this was meant to be. So, if you want to read these books in order, please start with The Night Parade of 100 Demons. Also, be warned that this review might contain unintentional mild spoilers.

I also need to add that these books are part of the Legend of Five Rings universe, including games, books, etc. I never played with the game (didn’t even hear about it until now, but that’s not surprising since I’m not a gamer), but I don’t think you need any previous knowledge to enjoy Brennan’s trilogy.

You could ask why I continued reading once I realized what’s going on. Well, the answer is that because I wanted to get a review ready in time of the release date which was supposed to be February 6th but recently was moved to the 20th. And also because I was hooked on the story, and didn’t want to put it down. And while I was – understandably – confused by some things in the first 10% or so, missing the context between the characters and the references to previous events, The Market of 100 Fortunes more or less works as a standalone. Brennan writes in a way that it’s easy to grasp what’s going on. Having that layer of knowledge would have been great, but there was enough incorporated into the writing that I could put together things and rarely felt lost in the world and in the relationships. In a way, it was fun having an already established couple as the main characters, and I’ll make sure to go back and read about their journey to this point.

Sekken and Ryotora are about to journey to Ryotora’s homeland where they can marry and start their lives. From the sound of it, they do need a little peace for sure. But it’s bittersweet for Sekken as he has to leave his home and family behind. For him, the future is uncertain. And so, Sayashi’s letter comes as a divine intervention that can delay the inevitable. Sayashi is a friend of theirs, a bakeneko (a shapeshifter that can take both cat and human forms), who needs their help in Brittle Flower City.

Sayashi is on a personal mission, searching for the entrance to the supernatural market that’s “below” the one the city is famous for. Sekken and Ryotora have no idea what’s going on, but they still decide to disobey Ryotora’s daimyo and head to the Crane lands in search of Sayashi. On their way, they are aided by an Emerald Magistrate of the Scorpions (Emerald Magistrates work for the Emperor, and they can come from any of the clans – btw, I love the idea of the different clans with their characteristics, though we don’t get to know much about them, I guess the games and other books based on it has a deeper lore), and whom they don’t trust at all. Especially since she seems way too eager to help without asking anything in return.

There are a lot of mysteries afoot both with their companion, the city, and the market of 100 fortunes itself. Sekken, being a scholar can’t help himself in wanting to discover it all, even if it sometimes leads to danger. But he is also loyal to his friends, and he wouldn’t consider leaving Sayashi behind, not after they discover her disappearance. Their only lead is a little orphan girl, Kuzu, who knew some of the doings of Sayashi while in the city. I think out of the characters Ryotaro was my favorite, he was the one I could relate to the most. He is anxious, more cautious than Sekken, and generally, he really complements Sekken in every way.

I loved the Japanese-like setting (duh), but I think my favorite thing about this book was the market of 100 fortunes and all the creatures (and ideas, because come on, who would have thought there are as many as 100 types of fortunes?). I actively wanted to visit that place just to get a glimpse of them. I love the imagination behind this – based on the author’s notes, a lot of these were based on real Japanese folklore, and man, I really need to get a better look at the Japanese culture. The idea of the tea service is kit *chef’s kiss* I also would have liked to discover more about the fortunes themselves, and thus making me wish that this book was a much longer one – not a complaint I usually have.

The Market of 100 Fortunes was a book I didn’t know I needed, as it seems to have brought back my reading mojo that had been lost to me for a few months. There could have been a bit more meat on the main plot maybe, but the characters just made up for that. I have no idea why is this trilogy not more widely known, but if you love Japanese mythology, or the game on which this world is based, then please, please give these books a go! The Market of 100 Fortunes hooked me from page 1 and it never let go. It’s fun, it’s charming and it makes me long for more. I had an excellent time reading it.

Our Judgement
They Shall Be Remembered - 4.5 Crowns

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