The Samurai, which literally means ‘to be on one’s guard’, were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan. Although the name is synonymous to most with fighting, that particular attribute is only one facet of what the Samurai’s job entails. According to encyclopedia.com, the ‘Samurai lived by a code of honour known as Bushido, the way of the sword. Loyalty, truthfulness, sincerity, and readiness to die for honour were its main attributes. The samurai also became very dedicated to ceremony and to acquiring and displaying meaningful colours, fabrics, and styles’. Although they became a distinct class in the 19th century, many practices such as archery, swordsmanship and martial arts have their roots firmly embedded in the Samurai practices and traditions.
This brings one to Rehan Khan’s fantasy novel ‘The Last of the Tasburai’ whereby the Tasburai, a warrior class made up entirely of Khan’s imagination, is very much shaped along the teachings and ways of the Samurai. They are also tasked with ensuring that the Avanist Revolution is well and truly upheld amongst the citizens of the fictitious Republic of Avantolia.
Attributed for the total annihilation of Anvantolia’s enemies, the Magrog and their demons that had sailed across the Black Sea, and the subsequent establishment of the Republic, the Tasburai Order enjoyed unequivocal power. However, the Tasburai’s powers, and those enjoyed by the leaders of the Republic, have gone to their heads and now it is feared that in lieu of the Avanist Revolution building a fairer world in Avantolia and Krakonite as it had meant to do, it had merely served to replace one king and queen with another who turned out to be far crueller to their people.
Sixteen-year-old Adan de la Vega, is an apprentice Tasburai who longs for the golden age of the Tasburai. He has come to the realisation that ‘being a Tasburai today was a thankless task. The citizens of the Republic of Avantolia feared the Tasburai because they didn’t understand them. The criminals feared the Tasburai because they didn’t want to end up in the Oblivion Prison. Only the council found use for their unique skills’. And, unknown to Adan, that is precisely why the leader of the Republic, the power hungry general Sargon, was interested in the Tasburai, and in forming a close alliance with the devious Master Tasburai, Naram-Sin.
Unbeknown to his people, General Sargon is planning for war. He has teamed up with the cruel and menacing general Volek of Krakonite who will lead an attack onto neighbouring peaceful Kronnoburg ruled temporarily by inexperienced and shallow Queen Elsta. The aim is to seize hold of the Nostvektians’ ‘Forbidden Quarter’ famous for its huge riches. Volek and Sargon have enlisted the help of Naram Sin, a powerful Master Tasburai with a huge following among the Order. Naram Sin has recruited the services of the Hawarij (or Ifreet), brutal assassins who will stop at nothing to terminate their target.
Finally with war plans revealed, it falls upon a brave few to face the oncoming disaster. Loyalty alone can no longer be counted on as everyone faces a battle with a very high price tag indeed with the odds stacked against them. And to make matters worse, it seems that the Republic's once-defeated enemy, the Magrog, are back and are accompanied by the mountain-cave dwellers the Xettin; massive brutes with faces like nightmares and with jaws of a wolf. It will be up to these few, lead by brave captain Navrosk and Tasburai Suri-Yi to convince the warring sides to unite against the evil threatening them all.
‘The Last of the Tasburai’ is a multi-layered tale with the challenging task of many characters to remember. A cumbersome task made easier thanks to Khan’s flowing penmanship and savoir-faire that gives each character a unique feature and voice so that it becomes distinguishable and above all memorable; Adan de la Vega’s inner demon, Queen Elsta’s grating fickle personality, Suri-Yi’s dark explosive secret, Olaf-the-Generous’ winning personality, and many many more. Particularly refreshing is the female cast who are represented by characters that are strong, intelligent and equal to their male counterparts in muscle and wit; the sassy, brave fifteen-year-old Ylva, a troublemaker and thief, daughter of Olaf-the-Generous, leader of the Tree Folk and Suri-Yi Master Tasburai to Adan de la Vega, she alternates between mother figure and ferocious fighter.
‘The Last of the Tasburai’ is a debut novel that lays the foundations of what I expect to be an engaging future series for all the family. With many a storyline left with an open ending, I hope it doesn’t take the author too long to let this reader know what future predicaments lie in wait for its suspended unsuspecting cast of characters that one has grown quite fond of.
The Back Cover: (amazon.co.uk) Adan, an apprentice of the legendary Tasburai order, is training hard to become an elite warrior in the service of the Avanist Republic. He’s horrified to discover the Republic’s authoritarian leaders are reshaping the Tasburai as a tool of persecution. Innocent people are being imprisoned. He didn’t sign up for this.
Feisty young thief Ylwa robs the rich of the walled city of Kronnoburg. She’s helping her father Olaf, one time mercenary, redistribute wealth to the needy. But when she steals a Tasburai sword, her world turns upside down.
Meanwhile, captain Rikard, a lowly commoner, discovers a secret plan by the Avanist Republic to overthrow Kronnoburg. Only nobody believes him, including Princess Elsta, its naïve ruler, who just wants to get married to her dashing prince.
And finally, Tasburai grandmaster Suri-Yi, sword of the Avanist Republic, is trying to become a better person, which is difficult, considering the Republic has ordered her to export violent revolution. What’s worse, she’s discovered old enemies—the Magrog and their demons—are poised to invade. Suri-Yi needs to unite the Avanist Republic and Kronnoburg against the Magrog. She’s about to drag Adan, Ylwa, Rikard, and Elsta into the one thing she does best. Killing.
About Rehan Khan
Rehan Khan, was born in Wimbledon, in 1971. His parents' home was close to the quintessential All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and a bike ride away from Wimbledon Common. As a child he loved listening to swashbuckling tales of heroism and valour, as well as dabbling in science fiction. His debut novel isLast of the Tasburai.
As his day job, Rehan is the Regional Consulting Director in the MENA region, for a FTSE 100 corporation.He has more than twenty years of experience. His expertise includes: consulting, strategy, business planning, innovation, customer experience, marketing, product management, proposition development and business transformation. Rehan has worked across a number of industries including: telecoms, media, technology, real estate, private equity and executive education.
He is also a Professor of Management at HULT International Business School.
Between 2009-10, Rehan was a business columnist for 'The National' newspaper in the UAE.
Rehan holds a master’s degree in applied social and market research, as well as an MBA in strategy.
He lives in Dubai, with his wife and two children.