Musashi Miyamoto fights in 1600 for the losing side of the battle at Sekigahara when the Tokugawa Shogunate begins its reign.This epic recounts the life and times of medieval Japan's greatest swordsman--a man who began life as an over-eager lout but turned himself into a master of his chosen weapon. But his life was spent not only in training to perfect the art of killing, but also in a quest to conquer himself. Unable to settle down, Musashi embarks on the life of a ronin (masterless samurai) as he wends his way through the feudal world of medieval Japan in his search for perfection. In the process he finds a young woman who loves him and many enemies who seek his destruction, including the most feared swordsman of all. The book teems with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety and dedication to the Way of the Samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely.
In few words: the best book i've ever read. The story is contagious, from line one to the last period. It is filled with action, a great character and story development, villans that are not elementary bad and heroes that are not elementary good, very "real".
The only thing I can contest is the end: it is too fast (almost like it was written on a rush) and it could have continued a little more, to tell us what happened with Musashi after all (but this is kind of good, gives the reader something to think about).
After I finished reading the book, I was wondering if 970 pages were enough to tell Musashi's tale. In spite of the well-fitting ending, I must say that I wouldn't complain if there was more of the story. Musashi's saga is told with lots of details, but still kept very quick to read. And it tells not only of his own story, but also the story of the people who had their lives affected by him, for good or for worse.
Unlike several other books I read before, the chapters do not end "in the best part" so that the reader gets curious and the story lasts longer. In each chapter (and in each of the books within this book) a story begins and ends, so you won't get caught in anxiety to see what's about to happen with any of the characters.
One thing that I absolutely loved in this book: the description of several aspects of the Japanese culture. I only missed a tea cerimony description, but other than this, all the main characteristics of Japan post-Sekigahara war were vividly described.