Worshiping his absent warrior father and urged by the Buddhist monk uncle who raised him to embrace a peaceful life in turbulent late sixteenth-century Japan, Bennosuke confronts painful family truths before pursuing the life of a samurai. - (Baker & Taylor)
Worshiping his absent warrior father and urged by the Buddhist monk uncle who raised him to embrace a peaceful life in turbulent late-16th-century Japan, Bennosuke confronts painful family truths before pursuing the life of a samurai and eventually participating in the epochal battle of Sekigahara. 40,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
A bold and vivid historical epic of feudal Japan, based on the real-life exploits of the legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto.
Japan in the late 16th century was a land in turmoil. Lords of the great clans schemed against each other, served by aristocratic samurai bound to them by a rigid code of honor. Bennosuke is a high-born but lonely teenager living in his ancestral village. His mother died when he was a young boy, and his powerful warrior father Munisai has abandoned him for a life of service to his Lord, Shinmei. Bennosuke has been raised by his uncle Dorinbo, a monk who urges the boy to forgo the violence of the samurai and embrace the contemplative life. But Bennosuke worships his absent father, and when Munisai returns, gravely injured, Bennosuke is forced to confront truths about his family's history and his own place in it. These revelations soon guide him down the samurai's path—awash with blood, bravery, and vengeance. His journey will culminate in the epochal battle of Sekigahara—in which Bennosuke will first proclaim his name as Mushashi Miyamoto. This rich and absorbing epic explores the complexities of one young man's quest while capturing a crucial turning point in Japanese history with visceral mastery, sharp psychological insight and tremendous narrative momentum. - (Random House, Inc.)
This coming-of-age biographical novel features the famous seventeenth-century samurai warrior-poet Musashi Miyamoto, who created the double sword fighting method kenjutsu. Readers unfamiliar with Japanese history initially may feel lost in this detailed and measured account of the samurai's life and the strict traditions surrounding family and personal honor. Kirk does, however, provide backstory in the form of vivid explanatory drama—a child committing seppuku (hara-kiri), a temple burning, and several brutal acts of vengeance. Young Bennosuke declares his samurai name, Miyamoto, at the Battle of Sekigahara (1600), which is described in tense and gruesome detail. The characters, even the young Bennosuke, aren't particularly likable in conventional terms, but Kirk's spare portrayal of the way of life of the samurai, whose duty it is to protect, defend, and avenge and for whom dying is nothing and winning is all, proves remarkably compelling. Those who enjoyed James Clavell's Shogun (1975) or who read the Sano Ichiro mysteries by Laura Joh Rowlands will find much to ponder in this starkly realistic and bleak portrait of Bushido, the way of the samurai warrior. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.