1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An impressive and interesting book, although long and not easy,
This review is from: Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan (Hardcover)
I am not exactly a Japanese history expert but I read some books about samurai, novels as well as non fiction and this may be the reason why I managed to go through this book quite easily. Still, I recognise that if you are new in this topic, it is better to read something about the historical background of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Oda Nobunaga, before attacking this very long book.
This being said I was greatly impressed by this major book by Eiji Yoshikawa. Now, I was already a little familiar with his style, having read "The Heike story", but it is not absolutely necessary. In fact the translation in English was so well made that "Taiko" is quite easy to read (a deep bow to the translator here). What is a little bit harder is the number of characters (almost all of them historical) and of the battles - there is no way you can actually keep track of all of them, but even then, the book still holds its own. Now, this is a sad story, because although the hero is rising, we also see a great number of courageous and noble characters being destroyed in the process. A good thing is that the author didn't try to portray Hideyoshi as a "good guy" and his ennemies as "bad guys". In fact the fight for the domination of Japan in XVI century was waged by numerous warlords, of whom few could be described as true villains - and it is well shown in the book.
This succession of wars, battles, massacres, murders and suicides can be at the very end a little depressing - but it is nevertheless a great read and a great story about an exceptionnal and unexpected great warrior and politician. I warmly recommend it.