I received a free copy for my honest review.
About the Book:
Having survived the cataclysmic battle of Sekigahara, which established the mighty Tokugawa Shogunate, young Musashi Miyamoto travels through Japan determined to proclaim his revolutionary epiphany that the “way of the sword,” the ancient code that binds samurai to their masters, needs to be abolished.
But during the battle Musashi insulted an adept of the powerful Yoshioka School, and a price has been put on his head. Musashi travels to Kyoto, domain of the Yoshioka, for a reckoning. He has taken up with Ameku, a beautiful blind woman branded as a witch; his burgeoning love for her will make him vulnerable.
Mushashi intends to deal a crushing blow to the traditional samurai dogma by destroying the Yoshioka warriors, but Musashi will learn that his spectacular gifts with the sword are no match for the cunning of powerful lords. The wily Tokugawa governor, still struggling to establish dominance in Kyoto, sees in Musashi just the weapon he needs to overcome the rebellious Yoshioka.
Sword of Honor seamlessly blends meticulous research, mesmerizing action sequences, and a driving narrative to bring this extraordinary figure to life.
About the Author:
David Kirk first became interested in Japanese history when his father gave him a copy of James Clavell’s Shogun. Years later he would be inspired to write his dissertation on samurai cinema. Kirk now lives in Japan, where he works as an English-language teacher and is currently at work on a second Musashi Miyamoto novel.
I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of this period in Japanese history is non existent. I’ve read a few books from this era and I do enjoy venturing afield from Tudor England where I spend a fair amount of my historical reading. When I was offered this novel about a rogue samurai I was very intrigued. I didn’t realize at first that it was based on a real person. That always makes a book more interesting for me.
Musashi Miyamoto was on the losing side of the definitive battle at Sekigahara leaving him on the run and with an assassin after him. He insulted a member of the vaunted Yoshioka samurai school and for that he must die. But Musashi has come out of the battle with a new outlook on life. A radical new way of thinking that goes against everything he has ever been taught – he feels that the Way of the samurai is all wrong and he is going to go to the heart of the Yoshioka in Kyoto and show them. Or die trying.
This is a complicated and well written book. Deeply researched and rich in the lore of the samurai. Mr. Kirk’s way with words at times is just magical. There is a scene near the beginning of the book where a new sword is being created and I found myself lost in the beauty of the scene he was setting with flow of his sentences. I went back and read it again. There are many places when this happens because the placement of one word next to another next to another for a series of sentences creates that special alchemy that causes the reader to pause and marvel at the beauty of what they just read.
Unfortunately the whole book did not maintain that magical quality and at times I wanted to shake Musashi because he would start acting like a child out of nowhere. There was a bit of disconnect here and there but not enough to ruin my overall enjoyment of the book. I also found myself confused at times and having to go back and reread to figure out what I had missed. Factors that would really cause me to rate a book far lower than I have this one but the passages of magic so make up for the flaws. I am looking forward to the next volume in this series following the life of the man who would change the Way.