The Ronin's Mistress: A Novel of Feudal Japan

Laura Joh Rowland. Minotaur, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-65852-6
At the outset of Rowland's tense 15th Japanese historical featuring Sano Ichiro (after 2010's The Cloud Pavilion), 47 ronin (samurai without a master) enter the estate of Kira Yoshinaka, the shogun's master of ceremonies, and one of their number beheads Yoshinaka in delayed revenge for Kira's role in the death of their master, Lord Asano, two years earlier. The motivation for the initial feud between Kira and Asano as well as the attack's timing are the questions considered by a specially convened supreme court, which delegates Sano, who's adjusting to his demotion from the position of chamberlain, to investigate. Meanwhile, Okaru, the mistress of the ronins' acting leader, reveals to Sano's brilliant and assertive wife, Reiko, that the origin of Kira and Asano's vendetta is not what is popularly believed. Rowland nicely balances action and detection while providing a revealing glimpse of Japan under the shogunate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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