My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Review: The Lost Samurai: Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia, 1593-1688

The Lost Samurai: Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia, 1593-1688 The Lost Samurai: Japanese Mercenaries in South East Asia, 1593-1688 by Stephen Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always been something of a history buff, so what I see a story about something I didn't know about before, you definitely have my interest. The Lost Samurai certainty fits that bill. The history covers Japanese mercenaries of the 16th and 17th centuries operating outside of Japan proper. In my mind, I was thinking more along the lines the a Varangian Guard scenario ... which it was not (except maybe in Siam). The author plays a little with the terms, so it was actually quite a stretch to label these "Wild Geese" as Samurai elites, but the author does explain why in the first Chapter ... "Its lead title - The Lost Samurai - an obvious play on the name of a well-known film, but together with the subtitle it introduces three expressions which need to be clarified at this stage. They are the use of 'samurai' to identify Japanese fighting men, 'mercenary' for conditions of service and 'south-east Asia' for their area of operation." In other words, not just elite warriors. What followed was some history detailing how the "Samurai" class came to ... and a lot more history about the [Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch] colonial power machinations and interests in the region and how Japanese expats were recruited and used to further those goals. I was particularly interested in how Christianity played a part (specifically the Christians of Nagasaki and the conflict between Catholics and Protestant powers and Japanese response to it all). While this was not a fun as I was hoping for, it was a good historical review of a time and region that doesn't get much attention in the West.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheLostSamurai #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.