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The Dragon King's Palace (Sano Ichiro Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – 30 Apr 2004

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; St. Martin's Paperbacks Ed edition (30 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312990030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312990039
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,013,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Think James Clavell meets Raymond Chandler." -San Francisco Chronicle"Rowland uses her fine eye for detail to portray the intricate surface and roiling underbelly of life in a tightly structured, controlled society. Her Japan is a mix of Kabuki theater-like stylized formality, palace intrigue, and physical action that would do a martial arts movie proud."-Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)"Rowland's masterful evocation of the period enable the reader to identify with the universal human emotions and drives that propel her characters while absorbing numerous telling details of a different culture and era."-Publishers Weekly"The story line remains fresh though this is Sano's eighth tale because of the insightful look at an era when palace intrigue rivaled Machiavelli and samurai code rules."-Midwest Book Review"A lively dissection of the samurai code of honor, sexual dishonor, palace infighting, and ancient Japanese mores."-Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Laura Joh Rowland, the granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, was educated at the University of Michigan and now lives in New Orleans with her husband. The Dragon King's Palace is the eighth novel in her widely acclaimed series featuring Sano Ichiro.

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The great metropolis of Edo sweltered in summer. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stella Philippou on 24 Aug 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you love Japan then this book is for you. Well the whole Sano Ichiro series. Rowland describes medieval Japan in a way that makes the reader able to see, feel and smell what the characters do. A must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vostok 1 on 31 Mar 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have come to the conclusion that the Sano Ichiro mystery books are very formulaic but having started the series I am now gripped and don't want to stop.

The murder mystery etc. varies between novel but the sub-plot of threat of back stabbing by other members of the Japanese government has been pretty much the same throughout the series and is now starting to drag.

These books also give some insight into how the Tokugawa regime might have worked and this can add to the enjoyment of these novels although I can't work out how close things are to the truth. The general idea of a samurai detective is still quite novel amongst novels.

I will continue to read this series but this is now probably due to addiction rather than because of the quality of the plots.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Not bad, but... 1 July 2003
By Amber - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book has the usual political intrigue and sensual moments readers have come to expect from Laura Joh Rowland's novels. However, I came away feeling less than satisfied with this tale and eager to read the next novel in her series. It seemed as if maybe this book is a "bridge" - it wasn't so much a story in itself but was there to set up for future events. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book, but for anyone who is following the series, there should be a MAJOR shake-up of political power in the next book. That interests me more than what happened in this book.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
fast paced and exciting -- an enjoyable read 10 April 2003
By tregatt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Another exciting and fast paced Sano Ichiro mystery novel! And truthfully speaking, if you're looking for a good historical mystery novel that will keep you at the edge of your seat, you need not look any further than this latest Sano Ichiro installment, "The Dragon King's Palace."
It's June of 1694, and the city of Edo seems to be suffering from the effects of a particularly bad heat wave. In order to escape this stiflingly bad weather, Lady Keisho-in, shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (Japan's supreme military leader)'s mother has decided to mount a 'small' trip to Mount Fuji. And she's decided that Reiko (the wife of Sano Ichiro who also happens to be the shogun's Most Honourable Investigator of Events, Situations and People), Reiko's heavily pregnant good friend, Midori (who is also the wife of Sano's most trusted aide, Hirata), and Lady Yanagisawa (the wife of Chamberlain Yanagiswa, the shogun's second-in-command and Sano's arch enemy) should accompany her on this trip. But en route to Mount Fuji, the party is attacked; the ladies are kidnapped and Lady Keisho-in's entire entourage of servants and guards slaughtered. Who could have mounted such an outrageous attack, and why? Was it some power hungry daimyo trying to show just how weak and powerless the shogun actually is? Or could it be some enemy of the Chamberlain's retaliating for some past wrong? Or could it be as Sano fears, that the Black Lotus sect trying to seek revenge on Sano for having caused the downfall of their once powerful and wealthy sect? Thrown together because of circumstances, Sano and the Chamberlain must put their past distrust and dislike of each other behind them so that they can discover who actually is responsible for the kidnapping as well as mount a rescue of the ladies before it's too late. But even as the two men face the danger and treachery around them, neither is quite ready for the strange and amazing twists that this case will take, or the personal cost that each will suffer...
I finished "The Dragon King's Palace" in one sitting. Fortunately, I had the day off -- a day I had planned to do a lot of weeding! Instead of which I found that I had spent the entire afternoon breathlessly turning the pages, reading along as Sano tried to discover who was behind this outrageous kidnapping and hoping that Reiko did not come up a cropper! What an exciting and suspenseful read this was. Laura Joh Rowland has written a cleverly plotted book that is full of wonderful and rich detail, and that fits in (comfortably) with the past books in this series. I particularly liked that this book really focused on the courage, intelligence and resourcefulness of Reiko. The novel unfolded smoothly, seamlessly and at an incredibly swift pace. All in all, a really good installment in the Sano Ichiro mystery series, and one not to be missed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Finally! 9 May 2005
By Highlander - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I appear to be a contrarian when it comes to the Sano Ichiro series. To now, I've enjoyed the Tokugawa milieu and have been captured by the culture and the actions of the characters within the culture. I have been disappointed by what I perceive as amateurish, illogical, and impulsive decisions by the characters to push an often plodding plot ahead and by the need for an ocasional lucky circumstance to resolve awkward plot logjams.

However, with DGP, I finally have seen Rowland let the plot horses run and the result has been a quickly moving, exciting plot structure with the characters in accord with events -- swept along perhaps -- rather than shuffling along behind a stiff story line.

So, I finally read a Ichiro novel that had me keep turning the pages and one where I did not keep asking myself, "Why in the world whould he or she do something that stupid?" It was a good read and I hope the next story maintains the pace.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Entertaining Departure from Formula, But With A Trade-Off 18 May 2005
By UFO6 - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dragon King's Palace marks something of a break from formula in Rowland's Sano Ichiro novels, in that it's a faster-paced kidnapping drama rather than the typical Ichiro murder mystery. As such it's a more cinematic story - along the lines of an action-adventure film - and a more vigorous page-turner. This makes for an entertaining read, but with something of a downside: It lacks the complexity of some of Rowland's previous Ichiro books, particularly the immediately preceding volume, "Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria" which represents perhaps Rowland's most in-depth plotting. You're essentially trading some depth and richness in storytelling for a more compelling pace.

Three particular details stand out in this volume, one positive and two negative: Dragon King marks the first time that Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi takes some decisive (albeit minor,) independent action. It's such a departure that it's out of character, but any sign of rationality from that character is a definite plus.

His otherwise senile indecisiveness and malleability, however, borders on lunacy - and that element, also developing in a more malevolent way here in the character of Lady Yanagasawa, is the literary equivalent of a short-circuit. Anyone who's suffered through any given French art film - where at least one protagonist must either already be or become insane as a matter of course - knows the groan-inducing betrayal created by the "insane character" cop-out. It's too convenient for the writer and too arbitrary for the intellect of the reader, therefore must be used carefully or not at all. It doesn't get too bad in Dragon King, but the emergence of the phenomenon in the Lady Yanagasawa character and to a degree within the Shogun's mother Keisho-in, is worrisome for those who plan on reading future Ichiro novels.

Another criticism lies in a missed opportunity. At one point Ichiro is faced with a genuine moral choice, that rarity of rarities that was once the backbone of great romantic fiction. We've all heard the phrase "show, don't tell" in context of character development. A moral dilemma is the only means by which the true underlying character of a protagonist (or antagonist) can be demonstrated in a lasting way - a point of spectacular confusion in writer Orson Scott Card's recent (May 03, 2005) unintentionally-comedic editorial diatribe against the Star Trek series. (Despite its cheap television production values, Star Trek turned the classic morality play into a weekly art form, and its writers did it by demonstrating timeless issues - like honesty, integrity, volition, reason, liberty and human rights, in the actions of the principle characters.)

Sano is called to honor a pre-existing promise to enemies with whom he has a tenuous truce - but rather than demonstrating his integrity without hesitation, thereby enriching the strength of the character and presenting an opportunity for a dramatic new direction in the series, Sano instead dithers in moral indecision, balks, then only begrudgingly agrees to stick to his word. The opportunity is blown, the scene falls flat, and Sano is left as a pedestrian everyman clouded in an ethical fog. Aaargh.

If you can overlook those negatives, Dragon King is a rousing adventure story with castle strongholds, damsels in distress, races against time, backstabbing treachery, and admirable strength in its convincing exposition of the villain's motives. What it lacks in richness of atmosphere and plot detail that was so effective in the previous "Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria," is compensated for by its addictive foray into thriller territory
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Reiko increasingly comes to the forefront 21 Jun 2004
By Teresa A. McTigue - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the Sano Ichiro series. If you read the books in chronological order (which I highly recommend), you see Laura Joh Rowland increasingly make Reiko her primary character and reduce in role of Sano. Is this a good or bad thing? I guess that depends on your love of the Sano character. I do adore Sano and I've missed the concentration on him in the last couple of novels. By writing Reiko to be a co-primary character, Rowland allows herself a potentially broader range of plot lines. I'm enjoying the mix of male and female threads in the books. I also enjoy the exploration of Reiko and Sano's unusual relationship and a look at how the male and female worlds in medieval Japan interacted.
In this book, Reiko plays a central role and draws heavily on the martial arts training her father provided her. If you don't care for this aspect of the series, you may not like this novel. If you enjoy the spotlight on the Reiko character, you'll love this book.
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