Cover image for The Tokaido road : a novel of feudal Japan
The Tokaido road : a novel of feudal Japan
Robson, Lucia St. Clair.
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1991.
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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A thoroughly absorbing tale about a feudal Japanese girl, Lady Kinume ("Golden Plum") Asano, who is determined to avenge her father's forced suicide at the hands of the ruling Lord Kira. With remarkable realism and immediacy, Robson--author of Ride the Wind and other tales--vividly depicts Kinume's quest along the perilous Tokaido Road for the one man whom she believes can help her--Oishi, the Asano clan's head samurai. Suspense and intrigue run deep as Lord Kira has Kinume, disguised first as a courtesan named Cat and then as a lowly traveler, trailed by his chief henchman. Robson writes with a spare elegance and crispness that make this elegiac story ring with poesy. Readers will especially thrill at the story's credible plot twists and lifelike characters, and be enchanted by the lore and legend of ancient Japan that Robson skillfully embroiders into the narrative fabric. The Tokaido Road deserves to be on every library's top-10 list of current recommended fiction. ~--Mary Banas

Publisher's Weekly Review

Robson ( Walk In My Soul ) opens this well-researched Japanese historical romance in 1702, during the rein of shogun Tsunayoshi, with young heroine Cat at the start of a long quest for vengeance. Lord Kira has caused the disgrace and death of her father, Lord Asano. Cat, the illegitimate daughter of Lord Asano and his ``outside-wife,'' is penniless, powerless and herself the prey of Kira's warriors. As the first step in rehabilitating her father's name, she must find Oishi Kuranosuke, leader of her father's samurai. Disguised as an itinerant beggar-priest she begins her search for Oishi on the dangerous Tokaido Road, experiencing myriad adventures along the way. Robson has based this picaresque tale on an actual feud and steeped it in the custom and culture of feudal Japan. The narrative is weighted down with explications of Zen thought and Japanese poetry, of the country's rigid caste system, even of the subtle nuances of using a bow. have restored some of what was cut When we don't like a book, we have to tell why. Honor is the operative element in this legend, taking precedence over everything, wish to restore the following 2 words; they are crucial to the meaning and justifying even the orgy of killing at the epic climax. Robson's detailed historiography is impressive, but the novel lacks the vital spark that might keep readers immersed in Cat's adventures. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In 18th-century feudal Japan, 47 former retainers of Lord Asano avenged his forced suicide by killing Lord Kira. Robson embellishes this story, giving Asano a daughter by a second wife. When the novel begins, the daughter Kinume, known as Cat, has become a courtesan in the pleasure district of Edo--later Tokyo--to support herself rather than become a nun as had her mother. Trained in the samurai arts, Cat has vowed revenge on Kira. She sets out to find her father's chief councilor, which means a 300-mile trip to Kyoto. Pursued by Kira's hirelings, she is joined on the Tokaido road by a peasant girl, Kasane, and by Hanshiro, a lordless samurai who had been assigned to find Cat. Replete with hand-to-hand battles, rooftop chases, and perilous escapes, their adventures are also rich in details of customs, attire, ritual, and terrain, punctuated with poetry. Written by a former librarian, this depiction of an era commands interest. Recommended for historical fiction collections, especially those building a Far East segment. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/90.-- Ellen Kaye Stoppel, Drake Univ. Law Lib., Des Moines (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.