This is the first book in a series of ten that have sold more than a million copies in Japan.
Moribito is about a young woman named Balsa who vows to save eight lives-the number of lives that were lost protecting her when she was a child. In this book, she protects the life of a young prince who has within him the egg of a Water Spirit. She needs to help him reach the river before the egg-eating monster gets them and in time for the egg to hatch.
I love that the hero of the series is really a heroine. She's an expert at the martial arts. The characters around her are richly developed and believable for such an adventure. There are brief parts in the book which wax philosophical. This quote will give a summary example: People from different countries who speak different languages have different ways of thinking. You know that, don't you? Take Balsa here. She's from Kanbal. The Kanbalese believe that thunder is a god.
I was also very pleasantly surprised that the amount of names and places didn't intimidate me. World-building has put me off about fantasy, until now. I really like it!
My only complaint about the writing of this story was that there were a number of "Over To You Bob" moments. Disguised info-dumps. But if I weren't a writer, I wouldn't have noticed. The book is very enjoyable. It's a YA, I believe.
(The cover for the English version is different. I think it's much better).