Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Way of the Sword, by Chris Bradford

2nd July 2009, Puffin books
400 pages
Childrens' Fantasy Japanese
Review copy

Cushions: 4/5
Daggers: 3/5
Smiles: 2/5
Tissues: 1/5 
Overall rating: 5+/5

Finishing the last page of book one, I moved straight over to this second installment in the action packed Japanese fantasy (well, not entirely sure how else to categorise it). 

All the characters from the previous book are here, and a few new ones. I loved the different classes held in this book, especially the origami sessions and the archery classes. The teachers have distinctive characters which I can easily attribute to the ideals of the Japanese warrior and priest. They're ones which stick in my mind, after many books later on. 

(A side note: I love the way that silhouettes are used on the covers. If you look carefully, Jack does look as if he has blond hair (or else that's just me hallucinating))

The stakes are higher in this installment. Jack still has to deal with Dragon eye, the evil ninja pirate who killed his father and is after his rutter. Thanks to one of his new friends, Jack does think of a hiding place for the rutter. Unfortunately his decision, made alone, to keep the rutter in that location will place several people in great danger. 

Jack faces competition from his adopted father's son, who dislikes Jack intensely. This not so friendly rivalry is the least of Jack's worries. An inter-school samurai competition is set up, thanks to an incident involving Jack: the prize involves the Emperor himself. Jack enters as one of the competitors, but the rigors of training nearly beat him. As for the competition itself - well, you'll just have to read it, won't you? I will say that you won't want to put the book down for anything, and there may be several exclamations of surprise. 

There are several touching moments which had me in tears, so make sure tissues are at the ready. The developing relationship between Akiko and Jack is sweet to watch, all the more unsure because Jack discovers Akiko has a secret, one which nearly ruins their friendship as he tries to work out what it is. 

The third and final installment can't come out soon enough. I gulp up the intricate details of tea ceremonies, how to use a bow and other details, expanding my knowledge of Japan. For those who have read Lian Hearn's books, there is mention of a nightingale floor here, which had me going 'yay' just because I already understood what it was (its purpose is explained within the story). This is a series that'll sit proudly on my bookshelf. 

Once again, Chris Bradford's website can be found here

I nearly wept when I saw I had to wait until March 2010 for The Way of the Dragon. That's so long! 

Young Samurai (the title of the series) has it's own website here.

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