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4.2 out of 5 stars13
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 12 August 2004
This wonderful book is a bit of historical fiction that is based on one of the most famous examples of samurai honor and bravery. In 1702, Naganori Asano-Takuminokami was on a ceremonial visit to Shogun Tsunayoshi, but when he was insulted by a greedy and conceited courtier, Lord Asano struck him with his sword, violating the law, and resulting in his own order to commit ceremonial suicide. With the Asano estates forfeit to the Shogunate, all of his samurai were made masterless samurai or ronin.
Determined to regain their honor through killing the courtier for his role in their master's death, 47 of the ronin bided their time, and struck back at their hated enemy. Though the Shogun was impressed by their devotion to Bushido, as indeed was the entire nation, he had no choice by to give them the most lenient sentence that he could, by allowing them to commit ceremonial suicide. And with that, the 47 ronin passed from this life into legend.
This is a very moving book, and is much better than I had expected. The author does an excellent job of painting Japan as it then existed, and really brings the characters to life. I really enjoyed this great book, this stirring tale of honor, and highly recommend it to you.
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on 9 April 2001
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book . The story as you would guess revolves around the revenge taken by the 47 Ronin of the Asano clan. The book in a whisper is about Lord Asano who is sentanced to death for striking a man who provoked him. As a result of this, his followers are stripped of everything that they own. Later the ronins find out that the man who provoked their Lord is still alive and they seek revenge. The story takes a while to get to the actual revenge, due to that it took them two years to avenge. The facts in the book are very realistic to the real events at the time.
Overall the story is very well written and is suitable for most ages. The book may not be the longest but at 240 pages long, it is still a noble read.
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on 16 February 2014
John Allyn's retelling of the 47 Ronin story is, sadly, a missed opportunity. The building blocks are all here - ready and poised for the epic treatment this story deserves - but unfortunately John Allyn was not the man to make it happen this time around.

The respectable Japaneses historian Stephen Turnbull is quoted on the front cover, hailing it a "masterful retelling" of the classic samurai tale, but unfortunately Stephen has a vested interest in providing a short essay at the start of the book, which he no doubt got paid for. Speaking of which, if you are going to read the novel regardless and have no foreknowledge of the plot then I highly recommend you skip the introductory sections until after you've finished reading the main story, otherwise crucial plot revelations and historical inaccuracies will spoil things for you.

The tale is told far too briskly for my personal tastes, and is woefully lacking in vivid descriptions of key events (including the all-important beginning AND finale). In addition, the majority of characters could benefit from from having greater depth to make the story as immersive as it has the right to be. It's not that everything badly written - far from it as there's some strong material in here - but it all just feels a bit too rushed.

So who might like this novel, then? Well, if this is your first foray into the realm of samurai literature and you haven't read James Clavell's 'Shogun' yet then this might be an okay place to start. Otherwise, I could only imagine adolescents being swept off their feet by the whistle-stop narrative.

Eiji Yoshikawa's samurai masterpieces 'Musashi' and 'Taiko' set the bar incredibly high, and unfortunately '47 Ronin' by John Allyn pales in comparison.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 December 2013
The legend of the 47 Ronin was meant to be a true story in Japanese history. The basic story was that Kira, a courtier of the Tokugawa Shogun, goaded a `daimyo' Lord Asano, into attacking him. Kira was injured but not killed. The Shogun ordered Lord Asano to commit seppuku (Japanese suicide by disembowelment). Asano's chief retainer, Oishi, rallied the samurais under Lord Asano and plotted revenge for the unjust death of their lord. As in all legendary tales, the details become subject to embellishment and variation. The 2013 film release of the film by the same name might be captivating as a film but deviated from the Allyn book, which is the most recent English language edition of this tale.

Unlike the film, there are no witches and no romance involving the daughter of Lord Asano. There is also no character in the book representing the film hero `Kai', played by Keanu Reeves. The book is exciting and is difficult to put down once it is begun. The plot revolves around the way Oishi (the main figure in the book) organizes his samurai and the preparation over the 12 months after Lord Asano's death, to kill Kira and thus avenge his death. Every page is worth reading and one can learn about the Japanese notions of nobility of character, the wisdom of patience, and the virtues of steadfastness from the Allyn version of the legend. Allyn's fascinating account should not be diminished by a review giving too much away; but the reader should expect lots of encounters with spies and the clashing between youthful exuberance and aged wisdom. He should also not expect it to be anything like the film version.
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This book is a credible modern version of the Japanese saga of the 47 ronin (ex-samurai), for whom honor and loyalty to their master were the prime sense of their life.
When their master is slain because he fights against corruption (high taxes, briberies) and silly laws (the `Life Preservation Laws' of the Shogun, making animals more privileged than human beings), their only life goal becomes revenge, `bringing peace to their master's soul', because `a samurai cannot live under the same sky as the slayer of his lord'. But at the end only 47 of his former soldiers remain loyal to their cause and will try to seek revenge for their master's execution.

This book doesn't attain the high standards of well-known Japanese classics (e.g., The Tales of Genji) and flirts sometimes with melodrama. But it is a worth-while read.
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on 3 January 2014
Interesting story that is a voyage into Japan and its culture and myths. Very revealing. A quick read that brought me to the end of the book when I would have preferred it lasted a little longer. Pairs with The Verdict of Hades as peculiar books I enjoyed. Well deserved.
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on 14 April 2014
I absolutley looked reading this book, it is such an epic tale of old and and true story, it's 100 times better a story than the recent fantasy Keanu Reeves film remake. You'll not regret picking it up.
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on 6 May 2014
more based on the legend rather than the recent motion picture,gives an insight into the legend that stil evokes today.
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on 14 January 2016
Love this author and another great book that i could not put down.
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on 8 May 2015
Everything as expected, Excellent choice, great purchase.
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