by Eiji Yoshikawa

Hardcover, 1981






New York, N.Y. : Harper & Row/Kodansha International, c1981.


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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member DRFP
Sure, it's basically samurai pulp-fiction but it's such a fun, heroic tale that, even after 1000 pages, I was left wishing there were more to read.
LibraryThing member squarespiral
Very straightforward and sometimes almost naive storyline with fairly stereotypical characters. At times it gives the impression of lecturing its readers on how to lead a 'proper' live as japanese citizen. There is nothing in the book that distinguishes fact from fiction, so while the known events in the life of the historical Musashi seem to be in line with the book, I'd still consider it mainly a work of fiction. I really only recomment this for people who are interested in medevial japanese society and the life of Shimmen Musashi - for them this is a decent book -, everybody else should probably avoid this lengthy read.… (more)
LibraryThing member mashcan
I came to this book as a fan of the Toshiro Mifune film. I really enjoyed this book. It is epic historical fiction, but it might only be for those who have an interest in old Japanese culture.
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
A very weighty historical novel about samurai. I thought I'd like this a lot more than I did. I might try again later.
LibraryThing member JGrande
GREAT book to immersre youself in feudal Japan! It's long, but well worth the read!
LibraryThing member aryadeschain
Instant classic.

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.

Highly recommended!
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
An epic story of one man's transformation from unruly scumbag to a samurai that has total mastery of his sword, this book also provides insight into Japan and its culture. Yoshikawa also gives us good guys that aren't always good and bad guys that are not all bad. This is a very entertaining journey into feudal Japan.
LibraryThing member Vinjii
This is a quick read despite its length. The language is easy and there's plenty of action. Unfortunately I thought the characters are mostly two-dimensional and the plot repetitive. If you're interested in samurais and Japanese culture, give it a try.
LibraryThing member CharlesBoyd
Too bad LibraryThing allows a max of 5 stars. This should get 6 or 7 at least.



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