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My brother, Kyle Mortensen, died unexpectedly last week at the age of only 37. He was a wonderful storyteller. He had a singular mix of wit, sarcasm, abrasiveness, affection, and insight, and all of these things bubbled together whether he was telling a story or writing one down. Kyle spent years researching the history of the people who lived in Iga province in medieval Japan, and from this grew a meticulously crafted work of historical fiction that he self-published a few years ago with the title Mists of Iga. It was intended to be the first in a series called Sons of Yōkai. I had planned to review this book when the sequel was ready to be published, but as that will now never happen, I would like to offer this small tribute to the writing of a good man, a wonderful husband and father, and a talented writer who should have had many more years to tell his stories to us all.
The themes and characters in Mists of Iga will appeal to teenagers, who will recognize the struggle of having growing skills and knowledge, but lacking the wisdom and experience to be seen as fully adult. The novel also shows the sort of strong, healthy masculine bonds that help boys grow into good men as two older shinobi take on the role of surrogate uncles to the orphaned sons of their friend and mentor. Set amidst the chaos of Japan in 1581 as Oda Nobunaga’s forces swept across the islands in an unstoppable conquest, Mists of Iga is a stirring tale of adventure and friendship told with wit, wry humor, and the unmistakable talent of a writer who will be dearly missed.
Get your copy of Mists of Iga on Amazon. All of the profits will go to Kyle’s wife and three young sons.
You can also donate to the Kyle Mortensen Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will be invested so that his sons can afford a good education one day.
Music in this Episode
“Kōjō no Tsuki” by Taki Rentarō