Title: The Samurai’s Tale
Author: Erik Christian Haugaard
Major Themes: Japan, Samurai, War
Synopsis: Taro’s loyalty to the samurai who took an interest in him after the death of his parents leads him into many dangerous situations.
We just read The Samurai’s Tale aloud. This is not my normal type of book; we wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t included in Sonlight Curriculum. However, it is a good introduction to Japan in a former age, when the warlords and samurai ruled the land.
Set in the 16th century, this book tells the story of a young boy whose family were all killed when the local warlords were fighting. The leader of the men who killed his mother took a fancy to the four-year-old, however, and took him home, giving him the name Taro. Young Taro grew up in the cookshed, but when the cook was killed, his life took a different direction. By the time he was 20, he had helped to conquer a castle for his lord. The tide turns, however; will Taro, now going by a man’s name, survive? What about all his friends?
This story is fairly bloody; I did not appreciate the violence. I did like the way Taro shows himself to be honest and compassionate. He is loyal to those who care about him. Told in the first person, this story is very well done.
WARNING: Chapter 1 (page 5) mentions Taro seeing his mother and servants dead in pools of blood. Chapter 6 (page 46) describes the Japanese method of committing suicide. Chapter 11 tells the story of a night spent in the house of a ghost. Chapter 16 (page 114) describes how Taro killed a bandit. Chapter 17 (page 121) mentions “the first woman slept with.” Chapter 21 (page 152) describes seeing a man killed. Chapter 34 tells of what Taro saw after a castle was conquered, with piles of heads and people crucified.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above