Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner - ADVISABLE

Turner, Pamela Samurai Rising : The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, illustrated by Gareth Hinds, 236 pgs. Penguin Random House (Charlesbridge), 2016. 16.95. Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (arranged marriages, mistresses); Violence: R (ritual suicides, beheadings, battles).  

When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father, whose pride had been injured by the emperor, started a battle which led to his losing his life, leaving Yoshitsune fatherless and relegated to a monastery to become a monk. However, as soon as he was old enough, he ran away and began his quest to become a Samurai.  This biography tells about his life as a warrior, falling in and out of favor with the emperor, family and other samurai leaders, and killing enemies in hopes of being rewarded. 

We learn about Japanese weapons and armor, clothing choices, societal responsibilities, and cultural expectations. The illustrations help give context to some of the ancient descriptions, and while the battle scenes are a bit gory, none of the pictures are disturbing.  This 12th century tale is well documented, the source material was compiled in 1198, less than 20 years after it happened,  and includes a timeline, glossary, chapter notes, bibliography and index.  A fully researched, well told story.

MS, HS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

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