Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

4 CDs. 4:51 hrs. Recorded Books. Oct. 2016. $46.75. ISBN 9781501936265.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Combining action, history, and excellent descriptions, this book shares the story of Yoshitsune, a most unlikely samurai. Spared after his father attacked a rival, Yoshitsune was raised by monks and later received instruction in the way of the samurai. Yoshitsune pledged his loyalty to his half brother Yoritomo and performed many heroic feats. Unfortunately, Yoritomo didn't trust Yoshitsune and sent assassins to eliminate him. Turner does a masterly job of making this true adventure race along at breakneck speed, referencing modern high school cliques to describe the Japanese aristocracy vs. the samurai. Narrator Brian Nishii stuns with his smooth pronunciation of names of people and places, easily capturing Turner's conversational phrasing and touches of sarcasm when the author remarks on the role of vanity during battle or the endless bloodletting among family members.
VERDICT Fans of both fiction and nonfiction action tales will be thrilled by this engrossing true story. Sensitive readers beware: the war chronicle is full of beheadings and suicides. ["Skillful storytelling and meticulous research combine to create an epic sure to satisfy teen history buffs and thrill seekers alike": SLJ 12/16 starred review of the Charlesbridge book.]

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