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The Ronin's Mistress: A Novel [Hardcover]

Laura Joh Rowland
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011 Sano Ichiro Novels (Book 15)
The Ronin's Mistress is a brilliant new twist on the fabled tale of the 47 Ronin, from Laura Joh Rowland--an author with "a painter's eye for the minutiae of court life [and] a politican's ear for intrigue." --The New York Times Book Review

Japan, 1703. On a snowy night, 47 warriors murder the man at the center of the scandal that turned them from samurai into masterless ronin two years before. Clearly this was an act of revenge--but why did they wait so long? And is there any reason they should not immediately be ordered to commit ritual suicide?

Sano Ichiro, demoted from Chamberlain to his old post as Most Honorable Investigator of  Events, Situations, and People, has mere days to solve the greatest mystery of samurai legend--while his own fortunes hang in the balance.

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Review

"Masterful." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Cloud Pavilion

"An exercise in pure entertainment." --The Washington Post on The Fire Kimono

"[Rowland's] Japan is a mix of Kabuki theater-like stylized formality, palace intrigue, and physical action that would do a martial arts movie proud." --The New Orleans Times-Picayune on The Snow Empress

"Sano may carry a sword and wear a kimono, but you'll immediately recognize him as an ancestor of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade." --The Denver Post

About the Author

LAURA JOH ROWLAND is the author of fourteen previous Sano Ichiro mysteries. The Fire Kimono was named one of the Wall Street Journal's "Five Best Historical Mystery Novels"; and The Snow Empress and The Cloud Pavilion, were among Publishers Weekly's Best Mysteries of the Year. She lives in New York City.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, fans will like it, newbies will too Nov. 19 2013
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I’m still a loyal reader of Sano Ichiro novels. I love them. I love the mystery, the political intrigue and how Sano is always dangling by the thread but manages to save the day but there’s always something looming around the corner where he’ll be dangling by a thread again.

This one was good, loyal readers will enjoy this and new readers will also like this. Background information on the 47 ronin helps a bit but not necessary. The title is a bit misleading, the Mistress is mentioned, but she doesn’t really play such a huge role in the book nevertheless. The plot was pretty good. Lots of twists and turns, and when you get towards the ending that’s where everything is so skillfully packed in you’ll feel like rereading it again just in case you missed something important. It’s always the last third of the book that gets you in the gut!

The only gripe I have, and I’ve been ranting about this for the past few novels now is the mystical Hirata issue. Please stop. It’s getting ridiculous and I’m finding when Hirata is featured, I’m starting to dread it. He used to be a personal favorite. Now he’s become this annoying mystical pest and I don’t care if he can feel auras of other people and can meditate in pretzel format (no, he doesn’t do this, but you know what I mean). He’s starting to become something I don’t want to read about. Please stop before you go further. This series DOES NOT need anything supernatural. Keep it real. Please.

Loyal fans will like this, newbies will too. A great historical read (and not many features in medieval Japan!) give it a go!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful blend of legend and fiction and mystery Sept. 15 2011
By Augustus T. Granger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Ronin's Mistress is another excellent read by Rowland in the Sano series. I anticipated this book and I was not disappointed. It very successfully intertwines the actual events surrounding the 47 Ronin act of vengence to restore their former Lord's honor against Kira with the fictional political story Rowland relates of the shoguns court. Rowland does create a mystery for Sano to investigate once again under the Shoguns severest penalty. Her blending of real and fiction is Michener-like (but not as wordy, thankfully). The central characters development continued especially with Masahiro and his mother's failure to see what was occurring.

The main story was Sano's investigation of the 47 and it dominated the book. There was not as much story development with Hirata as in past books but there were sufficient hints of future conflicts and tensions for the main characters. For those persons aware of the story myths surrounding the Lord Asano and the 47 Ronin the book includes several of those versions in Sano's investigation while reaching Rowland's own explanation. I prefer the Chushingura version of the story rather than the author's conclusion. I have been to Sengaku-ji and I have observed the reverence the people visiting there have for memory of the 47 Ronin and their final act of loyalty. People who enjoy Sano Ichiro will once again enjoy this latest book in the series.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deft Re-telling of the 47 Ronin story April 8 2012
By SML - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read nearly every entry in Rowland's Sano Ichiro series. This rates as her most masterful work to date. This re-telling of the story of the 47 Ronin has multiple layers and numerous twists and turns before the climactic scene. In the meantime, Masahiro grows up a little, Hirata meets the mystical foe who has been stalking him for the last two years, Reiko meets Yanisigawa in person for the first time, and the Shogun gets to find out what physical danger feels like. Several father-son relationships are explored and contrasted in this novel, as well as a father-daughter and mother-son relationship. Loyalty to family vs loyalty to Bushido is severely tested here: which will win?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Running out of steam June 9 2013
By Wabi Savvy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed the earlier books in this series but was dismayed by the quality of the writing and plotting in this volume. It's a given that one has to put aside most knowledge of Japanese culture and social behavior (gained from more serious reading and those elaborate NHK TV historical dramas) in order to enjoy these fictional diversions; still the author seems largely to have thrown away any attempt at portraying Japanese society of this period in any believable way.

The writing is atrociously sloppy---the author simply could leave no cliche unused--- and she has reduced the characters of Chamberlain Yanagisawa and the Shogun to caricatures. She also fell into constantly reminding the reader of what was at stake for Sano san and his family at every turn---as if this were a mystery book for dummies.

With such a renowned story as that of the 47 Loyal Retainers to work with and dissect, this novel had such rich possibilities that I kept reading, hoping some plot twists would at least reward my patience with the clumsy writing and shallow characterizations. Alas, there were no surprises nor insights to be gained.

Perhaps Rowland should take a sabbatical from 18th century Edo.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Par with the rest of the series! Sept. 23 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As I was reading the Ronin's Mistress it almost seemed as if it was a different author. The action was stilted and the characters seemed to be disconnected. The beginning of the book was slow and boring, the middle picked up, and then the end slowed down again. Hopefully, the next one in the series will be back to the level of good development all her other books matched and in most cases exceeded.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like feudal Japan, you will love this. Nov. 15 2011
By P. Benjamin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read every one of Ms. Rowland's novels in order of their publication. I have never been disappointed and this latest entry into the samurai world is no exception. Ms. Rowland spins a web of intrigue like very few others considering the scope of her writing - the middle ages in Japan. My only disappointment is when I finish one of her novels and have to wait an extended period until she pens another. Keep up the good work........but hurry!
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