Friday, December 23, 2016

Audiobook Review: Samurai Rising: the epic life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner

Samurai Rising: the epic life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner. Unabridged audiobook on four compact discs. Four hours and fifty-one minutes. Narrated by Brian Nishii. Recorded Books, August, 2016. 

I must confess that it took me three tries to get through this biography. It had more to do with my aversion to violence and war stories than the writing. I also had trouble with keeping all the names straight. I had received a review copy from the author and felt guilty not reading it. The book certainly did not need my review. It received a number of stars and glowing reviews. Then, the author posted about how thrilled she was with the audiobook and I had my way into Samurai Rising.*

The life of Minamoto Yoshitsune was short and tragic. He was an infant when his father, a powerful samurai warrior was beheaded by a rival samurai family. Minamoto's young life was spared (his older brothers were not so lucky) and he was sent to live in a monastery and ultimately train as a priest. He had a warrior's heart though and escaped as soon as possible to train as a samurai. His half-brother was raising an army of samurai to exact revenge for their father and Minamoto joined him. He soon proved himself to be a brilliant, though reckless warrior. The body count is high and the deaths are pitiless and gruesome. Some thought Minamoto a hero, others despised him, his half-brother among the latter. This book is not for the easily queasy!

The narration by Brian Nishii, with his calm voice and fluid pronunciations of all the names and places enhanced my enjoyment of the book. I did miss the inky, watery illustrations and maps drawn by Gareth Hinds, but the book was not far.

A timeline follows the conclusion of the biography. The book was meticulously researched with nearly fifty pages of source notes; but reads like an action/ adventure tale. A six-page bibliography follows, concluding with an index. 

Give this book to readers who enjoy history, biography and/ or war stories. Because of the violence, the title is better suited for grades seven and up though I would've let my history buff son read it earlier. 

*Thank goodness for audiobooks! I am such a fan of reading with my ears and always have two going. I will always try a book I'm having trouble getting into on audio before abandoning a title altogether. 

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