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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 27 August 2004
What can I say? Read both cloud of sparrows and autumn bridge in less than 3days. If you enjoyed Shogun - get them, if you enjoyed Last Samurai - get them (they're better!). If you've come here by mistake -still get them!
An excellent riveting pair of books. Explores the human psyche, love, honour, betrayal, friendship. Epsisodes of high suspence and tension. Plus samurai, ninja, gunslingers, mongol hordes, zen priests all whilst spanning Japan's history from 1281 to 1953. I can only hope there will be more to come from this exemplary author!
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on 12 January 2003
First of all, I picked this book up by chance and I have never been more glad to have done so. I usually read works by authors such as Tolkien, Eddings, Tad Williams, Wilbur Smith and Robert Jordan. But this book (Cloud of Sparrows) is after only 100 pages in the top five of my favourites.
I cannot describe this book in anyway that it deserves. It is Takashi Matsuoka's first book, and is a tale of when East meets West. Filled with glorious honour of the Samurai, the devious Ninja as well as the gunslingers and quick draws of the west.
The fights and battles are told in a way that will make you feel alive within the book, though the best aspect of it has to be...you are not bogged down by continous prose. Every second is filled with battle, intrigue or sensuality.
A real insight to the culture of Japan and America in the 19th century and how different they can be.
But be warned, if you start this book you will finish it in one day. It is that good that you will never want to put it down, the only reason I gave the book 4 stars...it is too short. All I can do is wait until Matsuoka brings out another book of such proportions that will change my view of the world forever.
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on 29 September 2003
It's very difficult not to draw comparison with Shogun and Cloud of Sparrows. Both contain the same elements and both sweep you into a past world you both long to, and are glad not to, be a part of.
I enjoy the complexity of the interaction of the 4 central characters. It is predominantly written from a Samurai Lord's point of view; however the central characters grab your interest from the get go. The ruling Lord cursed / gifted with the sight, his famously beautiful Geisha, lover or traitor? Then there are the 2 outsider missionaries Mathew Stark, an old west Ranger and perhaps fated to save the Samurai Lord or could it be Emily, the beauty only comfortable being considered hideous by Japanese standards. This should not detract from the well superbly written cast of support characters but are too many to mention here.
This is the type of book that when it is finished you have to drag yourself out of its pages and feel sorrow at the end of its telling. My only hope is that this story grows like the Wheel of Time series so that I can enjoy many years pleasure from it.
I started reading this book a few hours ago and I have only put it down to write this review to let you know how great it is.
Buy it, read it, love it!
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on 9 August 2006
This is plainly one of the best books I've read so far. I have to admit that if it had not been a reading group read, I would not have considered this for myself. But from page 1, I was hooked. Usually Japanese samurai stories are known for their gore and bloodshed, but this book was different because it was beautifully written. The whole time I was reading it, it made me think of a Japanese picture with very delicate brushstrokes. The author writes very poetically--vivid yet gentle, and the descriptions were very colourful. Although there are still the gorey bits (it can't be avoided in any samurai fiction or nonfiction, I would think), I find that these scenes come in at the right time in the right places. It is also a good book that compares and contrasts east and west, touching on the possibility that morality and life principles could be relative to culture and religion...something to think about in this day and age. in short, it has both a good story narrated beautifully, with a lesson on morality...what more can you ask for?
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on 5 October 2006
Cloud of sparrows is by far and away one the the all-time greatest books I have ever read. The basic plot is that three missionaries arrive in Japan to stay with a Great Lord, Genji Okumuchi. Japan then implodes into Civil War which leaves Genji, the missionaries and his warriors fighting for their lives as they escape to a castle, Cloud of Sparrows. This is far more than just a samurai story however, as there is a intricate plot of battles, murder, treachery,love and hatred. Fans of the TV series Lost will appreciate the way Matsuoka teases the reader by gradually revealing characters back stories, explaining how and why these unlikely missionaries came to Japan, culminating in a deadly finale.

I was amazed to discover that this was the first book by Matsuoka as it is one the most accomplished books I have read in the last 5 years.
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on 8 March 2005
if you are interested in toshiro mifune style samurai characters and a clint eastwood style cowboy, this is the book for you. Cloud of sparrows is an exciting tale of samurai geishas, ninjas, american missionaries, betrayal, love, sacrifice and a cool tint of action.
The story takes place in the 1800s when Japan is forced to open its doors to the outside world for the first time and a beautifull christian missionary gets stranded and her only friend Lord Genji who is a feudal lord to protect her
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on 26 September 2003
When I first started to read this book I thought oh dear how contrived to place a 'gunslinger' in nineteenth century Japan. It also took me a while to get used to the authors style of story telling. There are lots of very short sections (especially during periods of intense action) with the same events unfolding from different characters perspectives. Ultimately however the scenario works exceedingly well, and the short sections help to increase suspence. For me the measure of a good novel is that I want to read it all the time to find out what's going to happed next, while at the same time I don't want it to end. This book meets that criterion. There is a lot of violence towards children in this book which, as the father of a young family I found quite disturbing. On the whole though an excellent read, I look forward to the next installment.
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on 27 November 2010
A good idea for a story and interesting characters but a style of writing and description I found hard to engage with.
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on 4 September 2014
Second time I read Cloud of Sparrows this time on the kindle and the magic worked again. To all fans of ancient Japan culture this book will take you to a land of samurai and geishas with a mystery/prophecy twist to the tale. It is very well written and it's hard to let go of the book once started. The sequel is also a real literary prowess as the story unfolds both in the present and the past to a brilliant ending. Get both books. Totally recommended.
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on 20 February 2014
Set at the end of the feudal period in Japan this novel faithfully explores the differences in Japanese and western cultures and tells an exciting tale of Samurai adventures with a heart-rending love story. Wonderfully memorable characters, beautiful prose and images abounding which arrest the reader and cause him/her to pause and reflect. Absolutely marvelous. read the seocond aprt too: Autumn Bridge but read this first.
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