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The Guin Saga (グイン・サーガ Guin Sāga?) is the title of a best-selling heroic fantasy novel series by the Japanese author Kaoru Kurimoto, in continuous publication since 1979. A record 100 volumes were originally planned, but as of the author's death in May 2009 the total stands at 126 volumes, with 21 side-story novels. She was working on the 130th volume of Guin Saga up until 23 May 2009, after which point she became too ill to write. After the 100th book in the series was published in 2005, an event to celebrate this was held in Tokyo, with 600 attending. Guin Saga is the longest continuing single-writer's work in the world with total circulation exceeding 28 million worldwide.
The story centres around a mysterious warrior named Guin, an amnesiac with a leopard mask magically affixed to his head. Remembering nothing but his fighting instincts and the word "Aurra", he confronts a world laden with danger, intrigue, and magic. Later volumes introduce elements of the yaoi and yuri genres.
- Guin - The title character, Guin is a mysterious warrior with the head of a leopard. He stumbles upon Remus and Rinda being attacked by soldiers and defeats the entire unit singlehandedly. He remembers nothing of his past, knowing only his fighting instincts, what he believes is his name, and a word: Aurra. Guin is often put in position where he will suddenly have a skill he doesn't know he has. He understands the language of the Sem. As of Prisoner of the Lagon, he starts to realise that he really is part of the Destiny reshaping the land. Guin is inhumanly strong and knowledgeable about battle strategies, causing the Mongauli army to fear and respect him as a warrior, as he often will set up battle scenarios and jump into battle himself with inhuman skill.
- Rinda Farseer - The Crown Princess of Parros and Remus's twin. She is more independent than Remus. While putting up a strong front for her brother, she is just as devastated over the loss of her homeland. She has prophetic abilities, hence her name "Farseer". According to the novels, she's sure to be one of the top beauties of the land. She has a hatred for Lady Amnelis that is suggested in Warrior in the Wilderness to be partly because they are rivals and opposites in beauty, but mostly because the White Knights that Lady Amnelis commands were responsible for the deaths of her parents. She is a platinum blonde with violet eyes. At the beginning of the story, she is 14.
- Remus Farseer - The Crown Prince of Parros and Rinda's twin. Although Remus comes off as less courageous than Rinda, it is also suggested in the novels that he is more realistic and more able to understand others. His caution is derived from observation of others. He apparently can "sense" his sister, and occasionally hear her thoughts (The Leopard Mask). Remus is bitter about not having the gift of farsight, although it's evident he will have other talents. He is a platinum blond with violet eyes. At the beginning of the story, he is 14.
- Aldross the Third - The father of Rinda and Remus.
- Istavan Spellsword - A young mercenary without scruples, but who is portrayed sympathetically. When he was born, he held a jewel in his hand, and a seer predicted that he would one day rule a kingdom and marry the Princess of Light, who he believes is Rinda. He is nicknamed "The Crimson Mercenary." Istavan is a cunning fellow, and a battle-hardened mercenary by his (approximate) age of 20. He is very mischievous and has a wild sense of humour, finding things outrageously funny. He particularly likes to tease Rinda, and currently has her promise to become Captain of the Holy Guards of Parros, once it is regained. He has a sixth-sense about danger, and will often disappear right before a disaster strikes. Although he complains quite a bit, he follows Guin's orders. A likeable fellow with a thin, strong frame, obsidian eyes, quick wit and a cheeky belief he will survive anything.
- The Black Count Vanon - The Count of Stafolos Keep who is suffering from a plague that causes flesh to fall off. He is discovered to have been possessed by a ghoul, who requires blood of living things to keep him alive. He passes on with Guin's help when Stafolos falls.
- Suni - A member of the monkey-like Sem barbarian tribe. She was being held captive by the Black Count and was liberated by Rinda, Guin, and Remus.
- Lady Amnelis - The General of the Mongauli army, the enemies of Parros. She's obsessed with capturing Guin. She has found a way to bridge the Kes river and travel into Nospherus, the no-man's land of the Sem. She is considered one of the most beautiful women in the land with her golden hair and green eyes, but has been described as a "Lady of Ice".
Painted covers and interior illustrations for volumes 1-19 (1979-1984) were done by Naoyuki Kato. Noted artist Yoshitaka Amano then took the reins until vol. 57 (1997), upon which time he was replaced by Jun Suemi. Shinobu Tanno, whose style closely resembles Suemi's, has been the series artist since vol. 88 (2003).
Novels released in English
American publisher Vertical has released the first five volumes, translated into English by known game translator Alexander O. Smith. The English editions have drawn praise comparing the series to The Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian. The novels have also been translated into German, French, Russian, Italian, Korean and Chinese. Vertical has released the first five novels in English, but only the first three in hardback and paperback editions.
There are two manga based on the Guin Saga. The Guin Saga Manga:The Seven Magi グイン・サーガ七人の魔道師 is based on a gaiden (side-story) from the Guin Saga novels, where Guin is now King of Cheironia and must protect his kingdom from a magical plague. The story was originally published as a novel in 1981 and was adapted to manga in 2001. It is illustrated by Kazuaki Yanagisawa, was published in Japan by Media Factory, and has been released in English in three volumes by Vertical.