Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan

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Kodansha International, 2000 - Fiction - 926 pages
20 Reviews
In the tempestuous closing decades of the sixteenth century, the Empire of Japan writhes in chaos as the shogunate crumbles and rival warlords battle for supremacy. Warrior monks in their armed citadels block the road to the capital; castles are destroyed, villages plundered, fields put to the torch.

Amid this devastation, three men dream of uniting the nation. At one extreme is the charismatic but brutal Nobunaga, whose ruthless ambition crushes all before him. At the opposite pole is the cold, deliberate Ieyasu, wise in counsel, brave in battle, mature beyond his years. But the keystone of this triumvirate is the most memorable of all, Hideyoshi, who rises from the menial post of sandal bearer to become Taiko-absolute ruler of Japan in the Emperor's name.

When Nobunaga emerges from obscurity by destroying an army ten times the size of his own, he allies himself with Ieyasu, whose province is weak, but whose canniness and loyalty make him invaluable. Yet it is the scrawny, monkey-faced Hideyoshi-brash, impulsive, and utterly fearless-who becomes the unlikely savior of this ravaged land. Born the son of a farmer, he takes on the world with nothing but his bare hands and his wits, turning doubters into loyal servants, rivals into faithful friends, and enemies into allies. In all this he uses a piercing insight into human nature that unlocks castle gates, opens men's minds, and captures women's hearts. For Hideyoshi's passions are not limited to war and intrigue-his faithful wife, Nene, holds his love dear, even when she must share it; the chaste Oyu, sister of Hideyoshi's chief strategist, falls prey to his desires; and the seductive Chacha, whom he rescues from the fiery destruction of her father's castle, tempts his weakness.

As recounted by Eiji Yoshikawa, author of the international best-seller Musashi, Taiko tells many stories: of the fury of Nobunaga and the fatal arrogance of the black-toothed Yoshimoto; of the pathetic downfall of the House of Takeda; how the scorned Mitsuhide betrayed his master; how once impregnable ramparts fell as their defenders died gloriously. Most of all, though, Taiko is the story of how one man transformed a nation through the force of his will and the depth of his humanity. Filled with scenes of pageantry and violence, acts of treachery and self-sacrifice, tenderness and savagery, Taiko combines the panoramic spectacle of a Kurosawa epic with a vivid evocation of feudal Japan.
  

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Review: Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan

User Review  - Maria Sockel - Goodreads

Different to "Shogun" despite being set in the same era. Shogun specifically takes a lot of liberties in simplifying the story and adding in characters. "Toranaga" in Shogun is generally considered to ... Read full review

Review: Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan

User Review  - Max Fallon - Goodreads

It took me over a year to read this epic. Partly because I was busy and partly because there were a few parts of the story that were a struggle to get through. However the main reason it took so long ... Read full review

Contents

Monkey Monkey
3
Tenzo the Bandit
21
Korokus Gun
40
The Mountain of the Golden Flower
59
Another Master
83
The Idiot Lord
96
BOOK
137
The Walls of Kiyosu
151
A Retainers Duty
517
Hanbeis Legacy
527
Men of God
547
TheFalloftheTakeda
559
Fortress in a Lake
581
Kumquat Head
599
The Shrine of the Fire God
624
Fifty Years under Heaven
638

Yoshimotos Hostage
174
The Lord with the Blackened Teeth
193
A Castle Built on Water
247
Snaring the Tiger
265
The Master of Mount Kurihara
276
Be a Friendly Neighbor
296
The Wandering Shogun
315
BOOK FOUR
329
Shingen the LongLegged
349
The Gateless Gate
367
Funeral for the Living
381
Three Princesses
406
BOOK FIVE
425
The Towers of Azuchi
441
Monkey Marches West
458
Murashiges Treachery
485
BOOK EIGHT
669
Requiem of Blood
682
The Two Gates
702
War of Words
721
Midnight Warning
736
BOOK NINE
757
A Bowl of Tea
782
Genoas Stratagem
804
A True Friend
823
BOOK
839
The Hooded Warrior
858
Master Stroke
886
Taiko
903
Epilogue
924
Copyright

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About the author (2000)


EIJI YOSHIKAWA was born in 1892 near Tokyo. Beginning his literary career at the age of twenty-two, he continued to work as a journalist while writing novels that reached a large and appreciative readership. At the time of his death in 1962, he was one of Japan's most popular novelists. His memoirs have been translated as Fragments of a Past.

WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON, the translator, was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in 1966, he was invited by a friend to join a three-month kayak trip up the coast of Japan from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. This eye-opening journey, beautifully documented in National Geographic, spurred Wilson's fascination with the culture and history of Japan.

After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Dartmouth, Wilson earned a second B.A. in Japanese language and literature from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California, then undertook extensive research on Edo-period (1603-1868) philosophy at the Aichi Prefectural University, in Nagoya, Japan.

Wilson completed his first translation, Hagakure, while living in an old farmhouse deep in the Japanese countryside. Hagakure saw publication in 1979, the same year Wilson completed an M.A. in Japanese language and literature at the University of Washington. Wilson's other translations include The Book of Five Rings, The Life-Giving Sword, The Unfettered Mind, the Eiji Yoshikawa novel Taiko, and Ideals of the Samurai, which has been used as a college textbook on Japanese history and thought. Two decades after its initial publication, Hagakure was prominently featured in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog.

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