Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: The Shogun's Daughter

The Shogun’s Daughter
San Ichero #17
by Laura Joh Rowland

Why did you choose this book? It sounded like a good story
When did you read this book? January 2014
Who should read this book? fans of historical fiction and Japan history
Source: Library Thing Early Review
Here is a synopsis of The Shogun’s Daughter from Goodreads

Japan, 1704.  In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse.  Smallpox pustules cover her face.  Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, “Who’s going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?”

The death of the Shogun's daughter has immediate consequences on his regime. There will be no grandchild to leave the kingdom. Faced with his own mortality and beset by troubles caused by the recent earthquake, he names as his heir Yoshisato, the seventeen-year-old son he only recently discovered was his. Until five months ago, Yoshisato was raised as the illegitimate son of Yanagisawa, the shogun's favorite advisor. Yanagisawa is also the longtime enemy of Sano Ichiro.

Sano doubts that Yoshisato is really the Shogun's son, believing it's more likely a power-play by Yanagisawa. When Sano learns that Tsuruhime's death may have been a murder, he sets off on a dangerous investigation that leads to more death and destruction as he struggles to keep his pregnant wife, Reiko, and his son safe. Instead, he and his family become the accused. And this time, they may not survive the day.
Laura Joh Rowland's thrilling series set in Feudal Japan is as gripping and entertaining as ever.

My Review 

I was really looking forward to reading this book. The cover is so pretty and the synopsis drew me in. So I was really excited to learn I’d won a copy through Library Thing ER. The story was interesting, but it took me a very long time to get into the story. This was the first time I’d ever read anything from this era, and I hadn’t realized this was part of a series...the 17th book! Because this was new to me, there were many characters and many had similar names. I think if I’d read at least a few of the previous books, I would have been able to dive right into the story.

Once I DID get involved in the story, it was very interesting. The Shogun’s daughter dies of smallpox before she could present him with an heir. When Sano learns it is possible she was intentionally infected, he resolves to determine the truth. This despite the fact that the govenment is in turmoil and he is no longer a favored advisor. He suspects that his rival, who has displaced him as the Shogun’s current favored advisor.  When another death occurs under suspicious circumstances, Sana himself is suspected of murder. Back in these times, the family of the guilty were punished as if they also committed a crime, so Sano’s entire family is at risk. It is imperative that he find ‘the real killer’! Once I got past trying to pronounce every name and learned who the characters were, this novel moved at a good pace. I really did enjoy it and am glad I read it. I just didn’t like it enough to go back and read the first sixteen books. My one disappointment in the book was the ending, which really wasn’t an ending. The murders were solved and we learned who the killer is, but it is obvious that there will be further conflict between Sano and his rival, Yanagisawa. The book screams for a sequel!

My Rating:  ★★★  3 Stars

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