Sword of Honor

Written by David Kirk
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In Japan in October of 1600, the Battle of Sekigahara decisively provided a path to the Shogunate for Lord Tokugawa. Samurai Musashi Miyamoto survived the battle and killed the man he felt responsible for his father’s death: Lord Hayato. Tadanari Kozei, Samurai and master of sword for the Yoshioka School in Kyoto, assigned one of his students, the foreigner Akiyama, the task of killing Musashi for statements made against the Yoshioka School during the battle.

Musashi is a master swordsman and feels distaste for the Samurai code, known as “the Way,” which includes the act of Seppuku, or death by suicide – which claimed his father’s life. Known as the “Masterless,” he has become an outcast from the Samurai. After dealing with the assassin, Musashi decides to head for Kyoto and meet with the Yoshioka leaders and explain that he has not dishonored their school but has different beliefs about what is right and wrong with the Samurai way. Outnumbered, he is faced with a battle for his life. If he succeeds, it could change the Samarai code forever.

A resident of Japan since 2008, Kirk has captured the essence of life in medieval Japan. Based on a true account of the events following the Battle of Sekigahara, he has used impeccable research to provide a story rich in historical detail. The social customs and the divide that existed between the Samaria and the peasants, the rich and the poor, are vividly portrayed in his account of Japanese history. I highly recommend this novel, especially for those who may want to learn more about the Samurai.