Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Way of the Sword, by Chris Bradford (fiction) - English teen, feudal Japan, samurai school challenges
Foreigners can see little, learn even less.
But shipwrecked Jack is adopted by a samurai warrior,
training in the samurai ways,
his blond hair drawing attention he would rather avoid,
as a mortal enemy stalks him in the shadows.
In unskilled hands, samurai swords can draw blood from allies as well as enemies, so Jack and his friends must train, train, train to master their weapons - and their emotions.
Will Jack's growing samurai skills ever overcome the prejudice of those who think foreign 'gaijin' should be gone from Japan forever?
This swashbuckling Young Samurai series is available now at your local library or independent bookstore - start with book 1 - The Way of the Warrior (my no-spoiler recommendation here) to learn first-hand how blond, blue-eyed Jack found himself swept into life in feudal Japan.
Book info: The Way of the Sword (Young Samurai, book 2) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2010. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]
My Recommendation: For English teen Jack, a year in samurai school in 1620s Japan has taught him much, but not yet enough to defend himself against classmates who consider it disgraceful that a ‘gaijin’ foreigner learns the samurai ways. No matter that his adoptive father founded the school or that Masamoto is still considered the finest samurai and best swordsman of their time. Now Masamoto has announced that he will teach the fighting skills of The Two Heavens to the school’s best students.
This two-sword technique makes a samurai master almost invulnerable to attack. Those students interested must pass four mighty tests of samurai skill and courage before the New Year festival, then go into the mountains to survive the legendary challenges of the Circle of Three.
Jack realizes that he must learn The Two Heavens to defend himself against Dragon Eye, who still seeks his father’s ‘rutter,’ the precious coded mapbook which is Jack’s only remaining link to his father and his native England. The ninja tried to kill the daimyo, local ruler of the province and patron of their school, but the student samurai forced Dragon Eye’s retreat as the villain vowed further revenge.
Training beyond their normal martial arts classes, Jack and his friends Akiko, Saburo, and adoptive brother Yamato, all strive to prepare for the Circle of Three tests. But rumors of Christians killed in other provinces and the new Scorpion Gang formed by student samurai to force the gaijin out of Japan worry Jack and invade his dreams.
Can Jack learn the new skills he needs to qualify for the Circle of Three? Is there any safe place to hide his father’s rutter so that DragonEye will not find it? Will he ever get home to England, or will he live forever as the gaijin samurai in this tradition-bound land?
This great sequel to Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior leaves readers eagerly waiting the next book in the series! Includes glossary of Japanese words.(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.