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TARO: Legendary Boy Hero of Japan Kindle Edition
"Engaging and fun samurai adventures with a captivating cast." - KIRKUS REVIEWS
"A coming-of-age fantasy novel you don't want to miss." - READERS' FAVORITE, Five Stars Review
"An exciting adventure book that draws creatively from Japanese folklore and history." - BOOK LIFE BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Taro exudes a magical element reminiscent of The Jungle Book. . . . Immensely enjoyable." - READER'S FAVORITE, Five Stars Review
"A superbly plotted mythical tale packed full of larger than life characters. Highly recommended." - A "WISHING SHELF" BOOK REVIEW
"In this blend of fantasy, myth, and history . . . Spruell goes above and beyond." - THE US REVIEW OF BOOKS
"Spruell's engaging coming-of-age debut . . . sparkles." - BOOK LIFE REVIEWS
"A riveting tale of betrayal, honor, and revenge that instantly hooks you in and just refuses to let go. . . . I absolutely loved the book." - READER'S FAVORITE, Five Stars Review
"A story of myth and mythology . . . as sharp as a samurai's sword." - AUTHOR ABBY LANE
"For fantasy fans or lovers of Japanese culture . . . Spruell offers much to appreciate." - BLUEINK REVIEWS
"A highly imaginative and engrossing . . . retelling of . . . Japan's most beloved folklore." - READER'S FAVORITE, Five Stars Review
"An enchanting coming-of-age fantasy novel . . . steeped in Japanese culture and history." - FOREWORD CLARION REVIEWS
Tarō is a magical adventure . . . a very enjoyable tale." - HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY
"The narrative is magical, Taro's development is powerful, and the story is powerful too. Tarō . . . is absolute perfection." - READER'S FAVORITE, Five Stars Review
From the Author
Some years ago, I saw a parallel between the personalities of Japan's three Great Unifiers and Momotarō's animal companions, the pheasant, monkey, and dog. I thought it might be amusing to write a short story drawing on this comparison. What began as a little excursion became a grand adventure. While the rest may not be history per se, I hope the reader will enjoy this new yarn as much as I enjoyed spinning it.
Many of the people and places in this story are real, although the circumstances are fictitious and bear no intentional resemblance to any locations or persons, living or dead. This story reimagines the pivotal period in Japan's unification, sengoku jidai, the age of the country at war.
In the sixteenth century, feudal Japan was a collection of warring provinces, nominally affiliated with the imperial family, which wielded little to no real power. For all intents and purposes, the sword of the samurai, the warrior class, ruled the realm. The three great warlords of Japan were, in order of their preeminence, Oda Nobunaga, Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Each daimyō demonstrated qualities critical to Japan's unification. Oda was notoriously ruthless and cruel; Hashiba, cunning and manipulative; Tokugawa, diplomatic and patient.
A famous Japanese poem about their respective, formidable methods translates:
If the cuckoo does not sing, kill it. [Oda]
If the cuckoo does not sing, coax it. [Hashiba]
If the cuckoo does not sing, wait for it. [Tokugawa] Another famous verse describes their roles in the history of Japan's unification:
Nobunaga pounded the rice.
Hideyoshi kneaded the cake.
Quite naturally, each of these men possessed legendary personalities. Oda was infamously mercurial but surprisingly liberal in his adoption of Western influences, most notably the matchlock gun, as well as his patronage of the arts, especially chanoyu, the tea ceremony. Unlike his contemporaries, Hashiba had not been born to the warrior class but rose through the ranks from his appointment as Oda's sandal-bearer and ultimately succeeded his lord who, ironically, had cruelly nicknamed his vassal "little monkey" because of his slight frame and reputedly ugly face. Tokugawa claimed birthright to the hereditary title of shōgun, a de facto military dictator, and ushered in three centuries of peace when he secured his title following the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
Another contender in this celebrated conflict deserves special mention, Takeda Shingen, the warlord whose death Akira Kurosawa popularized in his superb film, Kagemusha, the "shadow warrior." A contemporary of the three Great Unifiers, Takeda was an exemplary samurai and military tactician. Had his life not been cut short, who knows how high he might have risen in the annals of Japan? As a final introductory note, before Takeda received his Buddhist name of Shingen, his family called him Tarō.
- ASIN : B08QQ6YQPN
- Publisher : Out of the Blue Productions, LLC (December 15, 2020)
- Publication date : December 15, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 10818 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 274 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 173572923X
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #347,301 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Having experience living in Japan, I love the culture and have a little knowledge of both the history and mythology of the country. Spruell does an amazing job of weaving historical fiction and magical fantasy together with a thread of colorful poetic license to come out with a truly captivating and uplifting tale. The events and the mythology in the book prompted me to research a little of the background, like Kintaro/Urashimataro/Momotaro and the battle of Sekigahara or the Tokugawa Shugonate. This was one way to keep the adventure going, and it's very entertaining and enlightening to see the connections, but I'm still going to need another one like it -- truly, truly hope this is not a one-off!
And then there's the sheer beauty of it. Spruell's descriptions of the landscape, clothing, everything brought powerful images to mind (yes, I'm Googling pictures of Japan now), and the drawings by Outlaw (adoooorable picture in the introduction section) are fantastic in their simplicity/complexity (hard to explain -- you'll have to see for yourself). I've looked to see if there is somewhere I can buy a couple of those prints, but couldn't find anything. If that's possible and anyone knows where to find them please let me know.
I don't usually write reviews, but I'm hoping this one will reach the author and illustrator. Actually, I have been so busy reading stuff for work that I had almost forgotten how much I love reading a well-spun yarn. Thanks!
I was surprised at how well the marvelous illustrations showed up on my phone! (Yes, I tend to read books on my phone.) They added a great deal to an otherwise totally engaging story. (Can something be more than total?)
A martial arts book, a delightful story, a one-sit read. Well done!!
I was totally with this book until Tarō looked into the mirror: a major turning point in the book, and for me as well. Then things sorta went downhill for me in a too-cheesy-this-is-hard-to-believe kinda way. For me, this is one of these books that took me all over the place: despite the vocabulary and length, I shifted into thinking this would be great for children/YA, but then I second thought that--in a Wizard of Oz kinda way. Like, the Wizard of Oz (book) seems innocent enough, especially in a realistic fantastical way, until the Tin Man takes his axe and starts hackin people down. Oh yeah, it kinda reminded me of Wizard of Oz meets Mowgli of The Jungle Book, all set in Edo Japan.
I think I changed my opinion of this book so many times because it seems to straddle genre and/or merge the most unlikeliest of genres in a disjointed way that didn't flow for me e.g. Too fantastical for me to believe in the (historical) reality, and too realistic for me to suspend belief for the fantasy/legend. This is also one of these books ... Not a hair out of place: awesome exterior and interior art, great formatting and editing and writing, but the plot, the mechanics of the content weren't entirely there for me. It certainly kept my attention though. Lol, it's a great adventure.
I give Tarō: Legendary Boy Hero of Japan 3 1/2 bubblegums.
Top reviews from other countries
I must confess that whilst I have not read many books set in feudal Japan I have an unsated interest in this genre of historical fiction that began when I read Shogun by James Clavell, one of the best books I have ever had the privilege of reading.
This story is the tale of TARO and the author explains before it is started that it is the amalgam of three different folk tales of our eponymous hero. In simple terms, it is a story of how one young boy grew to unite all of Japan.
I found the book was well written and very engaging to read if not quite what I was expecting (which was entirely my fault since I skimmed the introductory references). It is a folk story and I was so engrossed at the beginning I was not prepared for the magical elements of the story to unfold. It made it more fairy-tale and was not quite what I was looking for in my said desire of reading about Feudal Japan. However, that would be a disservice to the book because the fantastical elements are crucial to the narrative. TARO’s story unfolds in a beautifully concise yet descriptive way that moves at a great pace that kept me engaged.
I would have liked it to have been longer, with more time taken over the adventure to turn it into a proper tome but that is not suited to a folk tale I guess. The fight and battle sequences imparted enough but brusquely, almost like a summarised account which worked, but again I would have preferred more time and detail. I could say the same about the various characters. There are so many interesting and intriguing ones, I just wanted to spend more time with them and see the interactions and relationships build and grow. But again, it is a folk tale told as a story so it is admirable that I should feel so invested in each character after such a short introduction.
Overall, I think this is a great read and I am so pleased I picked it up.