Intro: What is "The Deer King"?

The Deer King (鹿の王) is a 2014 novel series by fantasy author and anthropology professor Uehashi Nahoko. She's best known in the anglosphere for the anime adaptations of a couple of her previous works, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (精霊の守り人) and Beast-Player Erin (獣の奏者).

The story traces the reemergence of an ancient, deadly plague borne by strange black dogs, and the ways that the illness interacts with the existing social dynamics of the various ethnic and religious groups living in the affected region. Embedded in both the process of the plague's spread and in the concentric dynamics of power that the sickness exposes are two protagonists: Vaughn, the lone survivor of a corps of suicidal resistance fighters, who was captured and enslaved in a salt mine until the plague took the lives of everyone around him; and Hossalle, an extremely gifted doctor and the son of an ancient noble line that has lost its power but not its influence.

These two characters take the lead of storylines that progress mostly uninvolved with one another, showing different facets of the world they inhabit and different perspectives on the same natural processes: life, illness, death; the individual and the collective; the struggle of a germ to survive in the body, and the struggle of cultures to survive under imperialism.

Published a full 5 years before the outbreak of COVID-19, the story now feels prescient (or perhaps just well-informed) in its perspective on disease. Disease is a biological process, the byproduct of an organism's survival, but for human beings, it's also a social process. A culture's lifeways - diet, religion, class - shape their interaction with the natural and biological worlds, and can make them more or less susceptible to disease. But disease also intersects with power, upsetting some existing hierarchies and entrenching others, inflaming conflicts that have been simmering under for decades.

What is the status of the translation?

The first draft of my translation of the first volume of the small-format paperback publication is in progress. The draft is available to read below, though please note that as it is a draft, the prose is unpolished and name spellings and terminology will likely change. You may also see notes or comments throughout.

> Read Book 1, 2, & 3 Drafts on Google Drive Here <

Is there any official media?

Yen Press has licensed the novels in English, with official release dates for the first two translated volumes having been made public. Yen Press has also licensed the two-volume manga adaptation (a back-adaptation of the movie, not of the novels) for a simul-release with the novels.

There's an anime film adaptation that's licensed and distributed by GKids, and is available on Vudu at the very least.