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Heart of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy Book 1) by [Heermann, Travis]
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Heart of the Ronin (The Ronin Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A fusion of historical fiction and adventure fantasy, the first volume of Heermann's Ronin Trilogy is a page-turning folkloric narrative of epic proportions. In a strange, supernatural feudal Japan, 17-year-old warrior Ken'ishi, a masterless samurai with a mysterious past and a legendary sword, saves the life of Kazuko, a powerful lord's daughter. Soon he becomes entangled in a deadly web of treachery, obsession and vengeance along with a bevy of conspirators, spies, assassins and otherworldly monstrosities. Though Heermann does little to push the boundaries of the subgenre, his writing style is confident and fluid, his characters well developed and his serpentine story line anything but predictable. Numerous tantalizingly unresolved plot threads will have readers anxiously awaiting the second installment in this gripping tale of ill-fated love, betrayal and destiny. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Ken'ishi is a young ronin, an outcast warrior with no master. Left an orphan at a young age and raised by his teacher Kaa, he believes himself to be the son of a famous samurai, and carries his father's beautiful sword, Silver Crane, with pride. He wanders his world (reminiscent of medieval Japan) searching for somewhere to settle, accompanied by his faithful dog, Akao and speaking with the birds, whose language he alone understands. When he flees from a hostile village after killing the violent drunkard constable Takenaga, he runs straight into adventure - the opportunity to save the beautiful Kazuko, daughter of a wealthy nobleman, from ravaging bandits and then from Hakamadore, an oni (demon) who has been terrorizing the populace. In gratitude, Ken'ishi is invited to become part of Kazuko's father's household; but when he and Kazuko fall in forbidden love, he flees to seek his fortune. Pursued by his enemies and lauded by his friends, Ken'ishi continues the search for the secrets of his past and for a place to settle down. The tale is complex and atmospheric, but wildly overwritten and clunky; the first of a trilogy, it would benefit greatly by a page-count reduction of at least half. It is hard to see the forest for the proverbial narrative trees. -- manuscript review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization

This is a good story. I have no complaints. I haven't read a ronin's story in historical Japan before. The closest I've come is the Vagabond manga. Idea is unusual in the American market...plot is gripping, and prose is acceptable (though editing would only help). Overall, I want to keep reading the story, and would buy the book. Good luck in the semi-finals. -- Amazon Top Reviewer

This one captured my attention right away with the dialogue, descriptive wording, and the wonder of why the main character would be at the business end of a sword. I adore historical and that the main character has the ability to talk with animals really captivated me in this tale. I found that I wanted to know more about the characters, their situation, and what would happen next. While this story does use strange words and names, in no way did I feel like it required a dictionary to read. The storyline flows beautifully and really does present a wonderful beginning to a story. -- Amazon Top Reviewer

Product Details

  • File Size: 1295 KB
  • Print Length: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (April 1, 2014)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J90C25I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,442 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Read on September 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the best adventure yarn I've read in years. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story focuses on a young Ronin, who was raised in unusual circumstances as a societal outsider. This turns out to be a great device to allow the reader to experience everything in this unfamiliar land and time through the fresh eyes of the narrator. All of the good sword and sorcery elements are there, but set in feudal Japan instead of somewhere fantastical. Consistent with most s&s, the magic/fantasy element in the story is pretty light--while this imagined Japan does have fantastical elements (some very fun ones), the fantastical elements are not front-and-center in the story.

So why only four stars? Really only because the first few pages of the novel are a bit flawed. The author attempts to set up an opening scene with a fight, putting you right in the action, and the prose mechanics are a little awkward. Anyone who has read only the excerpt, which is the beginning of the novel, should take this into account--don't judge based on the excerpt! After the opening pages, the writing settles down and the author gets into the skillful pacing and plotting of the story that he uses for the rest of the novel. Other than this slightly rough beginning, the author handles all other technical matters in the book very well: pacing, plotting, dialog, original/believable characters, flashbacks, fighting and action scenes, bedroom scenes, weapons and lore, palace intrigue, etc. In a world full of mediocre-to-bad fantasy novels, this is a bright spot.

I hope publishers will take note that this is a fine book that deserves to have the full trilogy published. I'll look forward to reading future volumes, but this was a satisfying read on its own.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been searching for a fantasy novel that reminded me of lian hearn's tales of the otori trilogy which had samurai, magic, suspense,drama, adventure, great characters, surprises and a great story and based on what i read about this book it should have done all those things but it didnt. The characters r likeable but there isnt enough action and plot twists to make it a good fantasy novel. and it becomes predictable in its plot but i will read the second because it left me hanging and peak my interest just enough to continue with the series.
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I was given the second book in the trilogy by Goodreads First Reads giveaways. Of course, when I signed up for the giveaways, I didn't realize it was the second book, so of course, when I got it, I had to go and get this, the first book in the series.

This book is about Ken'ishi, a ronin in an alternative 13th century Japan. We know its 13th century due to the threat of Kublai Khan invasion from mainland Asia. We also know it is alternative due to the heavy presence of magic and demons. I thought that Heermann really hammered home the desperate situation that ronin found themselves in; no master, distrusted, and no peaceful skills to trade with in times of peace. Ken'ishi is really just scraping by until events unfold that take him in new directions. He is a ronin due to his orphaning, being taken in and trained by a mysterious sword master. A lot of his back story is filled in as he shares his story with others or runs through them in his own mind. He carries a sword, Silver Crane, which is hinted at having a history and power that is unknown to Ken'ishi and the reader.

This book was a fun read. I enjoyed the bits of Japanese poetry and samurai wisdom from the Hagakure at the beginning of each chapter. Also, I found the super fast fights to be much more realistic than usual for fantasy books; in most the first mistake was the fatal one. And, as I said, I found myself very empathetic for Ken'ishi, who, through no fault of his own, has to deal with this extremely difficult lot in life, determined to make more of himself.

This book is only a small part of a much storyline. Most of the action is rather superficial while a much larger plot lurks in the background, mostly unnoticed by any of the characters. I'm looking forward to reading book 2.
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The book has potential. There are things in here I liked a great deal - enough that I bought the book after reading the sample.

The problem is that the author has too many plots running at the same time. Some authors can handle this number of simultaneous stories. This one, sadly, could not.

Not only that, but I have a pretty good idea how the series is going to end. To many plot points within the book were too clearly telegraphed for me to believe that there will be a twist later in the series.
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I have to hand it to Mr. Heerman, as he has written a wonderfully entertaining story filled with highly engaging and likable characters, and all this in a genre that is very hard to get right. Historical fiction set in feudal Japan is incredibly difficult to write, because the cultural aspects make for a massive minefield of things you can easily get wrong. However, he seems to be very familiar with both the history and the culture of feudal Japan, including Japanese folklore, which he deftly uses to infuse a fantasy element into this novel. Even without the fantasy element, this story would stand on its own; however, the addition of fantasy elements makes it the perfect novel for anyone who loves historical fantasy fiction set in feudal Japan. A narrow audience, perhaps, but I am hoping that this book reaches a much broader audience on the basis of the quality of Mr. Heerman's writing, and by virtue of how cool it is that he pulled this off. Do you love samurai and ninja stories? Ever play a D&D campaign in the Oriental Adventures setting? Geek out on Kurosawa films? Just plain enjoy great fantasy fiction? Then read this book, because it'll be time well spent.
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