Tuesday, 13 September 2011

FACTUAL REVIEW: The Revenge of the 47 Ronin - Stephen Turnbull, Ill. Mariusz Kozik, Alan Gilliland, Johnny Shumate,

Release Date: 20/08/11


When Lord Kira brought about the death of Lord Asano, he made Asano’s loyal samurai into ronin – masterless warriors. These men secretly plotted their revenge and one snowy winter’s night, launched an ambitious raid against their enemy’s mansion in Edo. What ensued was the fiercest sword battle to have been seen in Japan for over a century. The gates were stormed, Lord Kira was captured and executed, and his washed head placed on Lord Asano’s tomb. This title details the background, planning, and execution of this incredible raid, looking at the equipment used by the ronin, the tactics they employed in storming the building, and the dramatic events that followed, as the surviving ronin committed mass suicide – a final act of loyalty and defiance that sealed their legend.


With a film set for release next year starring Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kô Shibasaki and Tadanobu Asano, the world at large is getting to know about an historical event that is seen as the peak of honour for the Samurai class. Yet we all know that with fictionalisation facts are lost or blurred and as such it was a real joy to discover this well researched and beautifully illustrated title by Stephen Turnbull.

As usual with the Osprey releases, the events surrounding the raid are well researched, put into context and also when backed with a writerly vocal ability to bring it to a modern audience make this not only a fascinating subject to read about but becomes information that the reader can easily recall if required. Add to this the wonderful illustrations from surviving documents of the time backed up with a few pieces by Johnny Shumate, Alan Gilliland and Mariusz Kozik as well as photographs and its an overall satisfactory book. All in, this title was a lot of fun to read and in my opinion, will make a wonderful gift for those interested in the honour system or the Samurai caste.

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