Sunday, August 28, 2011
The Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior
In previous books, Jack Fletcher sailed to Japan with his father only to lose him to the wave of anti-Christian sentiment sweeping the island nation. When the Ninja who murdered his father steals Jack's father's logbook, Jack's only possession and an invaluable guide to the world's oceanic trading paths, Jack vows to retrieve the book. I assume that's where the last book in the series ended, but I'm not positive as I jumped into this book without ever having read the first novel.
I have to say, my lack of previous experience in Jack's story did not stop me from enjoying this book, which is surely a rarety among sequels: an outstanding standalone novel. (Since writing the above, I’ve done my research. Not only is there a book before this one, there’s a series. I have a lot of catch up to do!)
In Way of the Warrior, the story still winds around Jack, the lost logbook and Jack's efforts to become a samurai, but the war against foreigners and the other Daimyo (provincial rulers) now takes center stage. In fact, the latter half of the book rates as among the most moving pieces of YA or warfare reading material I've been privileged to read. The self sacrifice of Jack's classmates moved me beyond words at times.
If you have boys looking for good reading material, I can’t think of anything much better than this book. As someone who hates reading series, it surely speaks volumes that I want to read Mr. Bradford’s other work.