by Shaun Curry
This book may not be for everyone. To enjoy it I think you will have to have some interest in Japan and it’s culture. Maybe have a little knowledge about way the country used to be run by warlords and their armies of Samurai warriors.
For me this is book was a very enjoyable read, I have read many a non fiction book on Japan, it’s Warlords, Samurai warriors, Geisha’s and Concubines. So this is the sort of book I enjoy reading. I did notice that this book is classed as historical fiction, which I would expect but it’s also classed as Sci fi and Fantasy. In my opinion there wasn’t really anything Sci Fi and Fantasy in the book, but this is only book one in the trilogy. So maybe the Sci Fi and Fantasy come more into play in the next two books.
I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy and I hope that they are out sooner rather than later, as I’m impatient to find out how the story continues.
This story is set in 1626, when Japan was under the rule of the Shogun Iemitsu who was a tyrant to his people. The story is based around the life of Father Joaquim Martinez, who left his own country of Portugal to spread the word of God. For many years he has made his home in the Japanese Province of Hizen. Where he teaches the word of God and helps the people in the village with his guidance. The only problem is that the Shogun in charge of Japan has outlawed Christianity, as he is suspicious of them and what they are teaching his people.
The village were Father Joaquim Martinez lives is very poor, the villagers spend long days outside tending the paddy fields. They even need to have their children out working in the fields, as the local warlord keeps turning up demanding more and more taxes off the villagers. If the village can’t pay in gold then they have to pay with bags or rice. If the village doesn’t supply what he demands he then brutally punishes them, if any of the villagers speak out he has them killed.
One afternoon the warlord turns up unexpectedly. While Father Joaquim Martinez is out in the fields helping to gather in the rice, as the villagers are falling further and further behind with what the warlord is expecting from them. The warlord notices that some of the villagers are running back to the village instead of coming to see him. So he sends his Samurai to bring all of the villagers to him.
This is when he finds out that the villagers have a priest living amongst them. With this finding he told his Samurai to tear down every dwelling and bring everyone to him. They found that some of the parents had hidden their children, but they also find the other two Christians. So he orders the village to be burnt down and he, ties up the villagers in a sort of chain gang and walks them to the capital.
The treatment of the villagers becomes worse and worse on the long journey. If anyone fell or complained they would be beaten, it didn’t matter how old or how young you were. Some of the elderly and some of the very young struggled, but their parents and families couldn’t do anything to help them. The only comfort the villagers could get were the words spoken by Father Joaquim Martinez.
Father Joaquim Martinez did all he could to stand up for the people of the village, but it all fell on deaf ears or they were punished even more. Once they got to their destination and the warlord spoke with the powers that be he decided that he would split the women and children from the men and that he himself would escort the men to the Norther Island of Japan and gift the Priest, the other Christians and the men folk to the Shogun Iemitsu. As he knew that Shogun Iemitsu would especially enjoy torturing the Priest.
So the women and children were left behind to be tortured as they wanted them to renounce their Christianity. While the warlord and his Samurai marched the men to the north. The journey was long and arduous and very dangerous for the prisoners.
They eventually meet Shogun Iemitsu and Father Joaquim Martinez does everything he can to protect the villagers and himself. He manages to strike a deal with Shogun Iemitsu if he and his two other fellow Christians manage to fight his most esteemed Samurai worriers. Who will win? What will become of the villagers? That is for you to find out.
As I’ve already said this is a very good book and I’m looking forward to the next two. Shaun Curry the author knows his stuff when it comes to the history and culture of Japan. The way he has written this book he has brought Japaneses history to life.
Pages: 352, Publication Date: 25 February 2020, My Rating: