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The Ronin's Mistress: A Novel (Sano Ichiro Novels) Hardcover – September 13, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
Book 15 of 18 in the Sano Ichiro Novels Series

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Series: Sano Ichiro Novels (Book 15)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312658524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312658526
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Two or three stars....but I'm only a fifth of the way into it. The basic story is rich, the era and location are fascinating, and the premise is promising....BUT....the writing is a bit basic and clumsy which breaks one's concentration on the story itself. There are occasional paragraphs, just a few, where the writing flows and catches one up in a current of images and ideas so separate from the physical book that the setting, temperature and scent of the scene take over....but they are rare. So far, the characters seem one-dimensional. I'll read a little more but am not sure if I'll finish it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The 47 Ronin story is a much beloved event in Japanese History. Even today, many Japanese consider the actions of these loyal retainers the very embodiment of the best values that the Samurai code embodied. The stage and screen version is known as "Dai Chushingura"
What was great about Ms. Rowland's portrayal is that she used a device I first saw in the movie "Rashomon" Directed by Akira Kurasawa and featuring the noted actor "Toshiro Mifune" Kurosawa showed the viewers from each of the main players' eyes. He left the audience to draw their own conclusions as to what the "truth" was.
I am a third of the way through and thoroughly enjoying the read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What I like about this author and her stories of ancient Japan is this; She gives the reader great story telling without putting you to sleep with trying to impress you with her vast historical knowledge. Fun and intriguing tales.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have read all previous Sano books and this was definitely one of her best. The character development is outstanding. I can't believe that their son is 13, but Rowland's makes you like and want to know more about this young man. Quite a feat for a character introduced as just a baby and a way for Sano and his wife to create a more complicated dynamic. Loved the twists in the Tale of the 47 Ronin. Very good and highly recommended to lovers of history and Japanese culture.
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