There is a story to tell about the Craftsman war machine. The vast expanse of herbage remains unmowed; the story, therefore, remains untold. Instead, I might discuss the discussion that I led today after the regular instructor called to ask if I would take his class. The text message came while I was laboring with the latest mechanical manifestation of the war machine's taciturnity. I agreed. I enjoyed preparing for the discussion. It concerned a great story, a story of love and loyalty, jealousy and pride, friendship and fidelity, treachery and terrible carnage--I styled it as what we would've got if William Shakespeare had written Star Wars; it was just that good--meaning the story, not my discussion of it. I did have a terrific time leading the discussion; I can only hope the participants found it worth their valuable time.
That's not what I'm going to write about. I promised a review of Pride of the Samurai by Kenneth Jorgensen. Let me do it now. I see that I can also loan that ebook to someone. I would be happy to do that if I knew how; and who would like to read it.
But first, here's a picture of a local building--I'm going to work this into the second book in the Finding Jack series. There are elements in it that I think will fit well in the story.
I should preface my review of PoftS with a brief synopsis of my expertise on all things Japanese. I've known several people who spent some time in Japan. I can locate Japan on a map or globe. I once had a Japanese roommate--mostly what I can say about him is that he bought a lot of rice--he bought it by the bag, the 100 pound bag. The primary source of my expertise is James Clavell's Shogun; I saw the miniseries, and I read the book--so I got that going for me. So, as you can see, my qualifications and expertise concerning all things Japanese, and particularly feudal Japan, are beyond question. I even remember
Fiction featuring fantasy in feudal Japan has never been something that I've pursued for pleasurable reading--until now. PotS begins an epic fantasy: The Kusunoki Chronicles, of which there are 4 books (so far). I've only read this first one; I can't say what the others contain. PotS begins the adventure of twin brothers, Akashi and Kanto. Akashi learns that he has the power to work the tama, a magical power that seems to emanate from the Japanese homeland--some might think of it like "the force" from another popular series which has some roots in a similar culture. The use of the tama is forbidden; it's not forbidden in the sense that a sincere apology and some meaningful probation time are demanded; it's forbidden in a way that a stirring of the innards with a short sword, or a permanent separation of the skull from the shoulders is mandated--and that also goes for the people who knew about it and didn't tattle.
Anyway, in addition to the usual discovery of the forbidden power and the sort of apprenticeship that goes along with it, the story tells of the Kunusoki family and some of the politics of the time. The characters are almost all interesting and constantly developing. The dark side of the force in this epic comes from the foreign invaders. These viking-like enemies have a great magical power; they seem to go through the armies of the homeland like a shotgun blast through a screen door. Akashi, and other shinobi (users of the tama) may be the only power that can resist the invaders.
As I said in a previous post, PotS is the best book of fiction that I've read so far this year. I give it five stars. I am now committed to reading the next book in the series.
On a different topic, I am also pleased to say that I got to sign a couple paperback copies of Smoke this week--I hope to sign more in the near future.