Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune- A Review

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Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

Written By: Pamela S. Turner

Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 2, 2016)

YA Nonfiction

I received a copy from the publisher to evaluate as a nominee in the Cybils Awards

After reading this one, I was in a quandary. I loved the writing- there were several times when I laughed out loud at the phrasing used by the author. I thought the story was an important one. There are great authors notes and a timeline included in the back.

What’s the problem?

So.many.battles. Described in excruciating detail. If that’s your thing (or your kid’s thing)- cool. Let me tell you about Samurai:

“Samurai craved job security”

Never thought about that before this, but yeah, I could see that.

This story is so well written and entertaining that it’s hard for me to admit I was bored. I kept reading to find out what happened, but it was like how some people feel reading LOTR. They are walking and walking and walking. In this case, they are fighting, and you can picture their exact armor and weapons in all their gloriousness.

There is a pronunciation guide at the front- use it. Otherwise, you’ll be 143 pages in and still flip back to it to make sure you are saying their names correctly in your head.

Yoshitsune was like a Japanese King Arthur.(although the samurai code is very different from the knight’s code) Generations of people studied the Heike (the story of his dynasty), and the first version was compiled when the eye witnesses were still alive between 1198-1221. People loved Yoshitsune so much that they invented alternative endings to his story- a sort of medieval fan fiction. This book is a middle-grade re-telling of his real life story.

Homeschool note: I’m adding to our reading list when we come back around to that time in history.