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Publisher's Summary

For those looking for the real story behind the fictionalized movie account of the 47 Ronin story, this is the definitive, fascinating account of this unforgettable tale of a band of samurai who defied the Emperor to avenge the disgrace and death of their master, and faced certain death as a result. It led to one of the bloodiest episodes in Japanese history, and in the process, created a new set of heroes in Japan.

In 1701, young Lord Asano is goaded into attacking a corrupt official at the Japanese Court. Although the wound Asano inflicts is minimal, the Emperor's punishment is harsh: Lord Asano is ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. His lands are confiscated and his family is dishonored and exiled. His samurai retainers now become ronin, or masterless, and are dispersed.

These ronin are not trusted by their enemies and live under the watchful eyes of spies for months. They appear to adapt to their new circumstances by becoming tradesmen and teachers. But the ronin only seem to accept their fate. They are in fact making careful plans for revenge, biding their time until the moment to strike is right! Their deeds became Japan's most celebrated example of bravery, cunning, and loyalty in an age when samurai were heroes, and honor was worth dying for.

John Allyn's masterful retelling of 47 Ronin has long been considered the definitive version of these dramatic historical events.

©2012 Original material, Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Company, Inc. Recorded by arrangement with Tuttle Publishing. (P)2013 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"Narrator David Shih expertly brings to life this ancient Japanese tale, based on real-life events. Through Shih's interpretation, the listener can hear the determination and even the occasional misgivings of the characters as they plot their revenge. Shih's performance of the noble warriors is flawless, as is his depiction of the women who work in the pleasure houses, but long for more." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about 47 Ronin

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Neither fish nor....

The publisher's notes suggest that in this book you can find the truth behind the classic Japanese story of the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai). That is only true if they were referring to the prologue which draws a clear line between the actual events and the fictionalized account presented by the author. This sets up an interesting tension which is clearly troubling for some people. The Ronin and their single minded leader are tainted by the clarifications in the prologue, so that there is a persistent "but" stalking the entire narrative of the book.

Nonetheless, the story is fascinating, deeply rooted in a culture which is profoundly alien for a Western reader in many ways. It develops slowly but very steadily, as successful revenge plots almost always do, and provides a pretty respectable emotional punch. I found more than enough tension along the way to keep me engaged, and the well drawn details of the daily life of the characters successfully drew me into that distant time and place in a very satisfying way. This is NOT an action adventure, however. Its appeal is in the gradual, carefully contained progress toward an explosive and appropriate ending. And, for me at least, in the nagging tension between the popular story and the uncomfortable facts which lie behind it. As a result, this is not a book for someone looking for authentic history, nor will it satisfy the listener who wants to be left breathless at the end of each chapter. If, on the other hand, you want to read it purely for the beauty of the classic story, I suggest you simply skip the prologue.

I had no problem with David Shih's narration, but other reviewers did. I suggest you check the sample reading before you invest a credit. It is taken from the prologue, but it is representative of the style and quality of the vocal work.

15 people found this helpful

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listen to the forward last

The Foreword contains a lot of interesting information regarding the actual historical event this book is based on. But it contains many spoilers to the story, as it contrasts the dramatization to the historical event. I skipped it, listened to the novelization of the event, then revisited the Foreword for some historical context, and was not displeased. I definitely recommend listening to the Foreword, but not before finishing the story.

5 people found this helpful

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Ignore the forward

The dark forward is a bit of twisting of the facts and, despite how it is portrayed, is not terribly accurate in the context of the culture of the time. Having said that the main tale is exactly the story of honor, duty, and the epic tale that comes from it that you expect. Skip the forward and you'll love this.

5 people found this helpful

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Trust me..

An absolute amazing tale, which any reader can connect too and feel like you’re in the feudal Era. Though my BIGGEST DREAD came from the Forward, after almost returning this book bcuz of it, I seen MANY reviews saying to pay no attention to it and to just skip it.. Well let me tell you, IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY THIS BOOK, SKIP THE “FORWARD”. It’s so contradicting, and sounds like a 21st century Westerner is trying to find peace and understanding in Politics from back then.. which is a miserable fail. So AMAZING story and listen. But leave the TERRIBLE Forward out of it, you’ll be happy you did.

1 person found this helpful

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negative book review

did not like it, the forward was so negative made me think why read it.

1 person found this helpful

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Not historically accurate but who cares?

I love the story but it's pretty much a myth. Like many myths, the graves and artifacts were created after-the-fact but I never let that interfere with my enjoyment of a good story and you shouldn't either.

1 person found this helpful

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A solid rendition of a classic tale

This a great non-European/American classic, which makes it rare in it's own right. The background at the beginning, which outlines the known historical facts that make up the framework of the story, enhances the work that follows. The narrator was a bit flat, and perhaps could have changed cadence more emphatically as the story required, but on the whole his narration was adequate.

While a great classic, on which many movies have been based, it is not a convoluted tale. It follows the line of Samurai master is ordered to commit suicide, and loyal followers eventually extract revenge. The more interesting aspect of the tale concerns the personalities and deceptions leading to the revenge attack. It also paints an interesting description of Japanese culture 300 years ago.

So, give this audio book a listen, especially if you are not familiar with the story through movies. You should find it worth your time.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Audible, good story.

The voice acting and reading is top notch, the story is a classic and worth hearing. It’s heavier on politics than action, but the narrators ability to act out each character will pull you in and help you get through some of the slow dialogue.

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Was not worth the credit

one of the rare Occasions I would rather see the horrible movie version instead of reading the novel. Mostly a political story which is fine but it was so slllllooooowww. The narrator was boring, which made the story so quick to put down. I was not into this story until the last few chapters.

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Still my favorite Samurai story

This is my first time listening to this, but not the first I've read the story. It is still my favorite Samurai tale. Simple, straightforward, and immensely captivating.

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  • Jeremy J
  • 10-22-19

Legend rooted in history

A compelling tale of revenge driven by honour. Characters of exceptional strength embark on a long journey to avenge their Lord goaded into a suicidal act by a conniving court official. This tale has a powerful place in Japanese culture and in it can be seen core values of loyalty honour and discipling, breaking the confines of the law to reach a just end. Great narration and good audio interludes.