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Publisher's Summary

The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman.

Miyamoto Musashi was the child of an era when Japan was emerging from decades of civil strife. Lured to the great Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 by the hope of becoming a samurai - without really knowing what it meant - he regains consciousness after the battle to find himself lying defeated, dazed, and wounded among thousands of the dead and dying. On his way home, he commits a rash act, becomes a fugitive, and brings life in his own village to a standstill - until he is captured by a weaponless Zen monk.

The lovely Otsu, seeing in Musashi her ideal of manliness, frees him from his tortuous punishment, but he is recaptured and imprisoned. During three years of solitary confinement, he delves into the classics of Japan and China. When he is set free again, he rejects the position of samurai and for the next several years pursues his goal relentlessly, looking neither to the left nor to the right.

Ever so slowly it dawns on him that following the way of the sword is not simply a matter of finding a target for his brute strength. Continually striving to perfect his technique, which leads him to a unique style of fighting with two swords simultaneously, he travels far and wide, challenging fighters of many disciplines, taking nature to be his ultimate and severest teacher and undergoing the rigorous training of those who follow the way. He is supremely successful in his encounters, but in The Art of War, he perceives the way of peaceful and prosperous governance and disciplines himself to be a real human being.

He becomes a reluctant hero to a host of people whose lives he has touched and by whom he has been touched. Inevitably, he has to pit his skill against the naked blade of his greatest rival.

Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese storytelling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety, and absolute dedication to the way of the samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely. Full of gusto and humor, it has an epic quality and universal appeal.

©1971 Fumiko Yoshikawa (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Better than the Count of Monte Cristo...

I loved this book. It replaced my favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, as my favorite piece of fiction. It starts off in a similar way to the Count, but it definitely has a much more wholesome and satisfying end to it. #epic #advetnure #wholesome #samurai #war

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A great book with a great narrator

This is one of my favorite books and was made better with the narrators performance.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great story, great narrator

Such a well-written story, with so many different storylines developed and then woven together. This story provides a fascinating view into Japanese and samurai culture. 53 hours long and I was sad that it ended! The narrator is fantastic, with real feeling, seemingly authentic pronunciation of Japanese names and unique voices for nearly every character.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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BIG Must

this book is definitely a big must for anybody that is a fan of Japanese culture and history

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The Way

Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest samurai that ever lived. The book narrates not only the life of a great samurai, but of those who were touched by him. Although I learned the most from Musashi, there are plenty of lessons to obtain from Matahachi, Osugi, Otsu, Jotaro, Iori, Kojiro, Takuan and the list goes on indefinitely. At some point we all try to act as Musashi, but very few are able to accomplish it. Stick to a way and follow it, but not be blind by it. Allow yourself to discover and learn through the sword, nature, people, travel, writing, crafting, teaching, etc...
This is a philosophy book disguised as a novel. If you would like to learn while you read or listen, buy this book ASAP. The character growth is exceptionally good. Of course its easy and I would have liked to imagine different outcomes, but that probably is because I still think to immaturely.
The narrator does an excellent job alternating with voices and the narration is enjoyable to listen non-stop.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Story- Poor Reading

This is actually my favorite book, but I had a real issue with the reader. His constant mispronunciations of everything from “aristocracy” to “latter” drove me to distraction. I’ve never felt compelled to write a review before, but this was pretty bad. I was able to get through it, but it really took me out of the story on a pretty regular basis. Unfortunate...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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My memory of it from the 80s was better...

I read this book as a youth, and really loved it, so when I saw it turn up in Audio format at Audible, I jumped at it and got it as soon as it came out.

However, my adult mind didn't quite like the story anymore. The ongoing feuds in the book, with either some crazy woman and to a lesser extent his ex best friend) and one or more sword schools were just told as a one sided tale, like the account was purely taken from an extremely exaggerated first person account. I may be wrong, and historically this might all be correct, and somehow an old poor (financially) woman was able to just leave home and live on the road pursuing her bizarre agenda for years and years and years and years... And on Musashi's side, how was just overly and ridiculously kind and magnanimous. It just felt like the story of a braggart. From his humble bragging when he came to the realization he was just too strong, and couldn't control his sheer strength and was always unintentionally killing people, even with wood. It was just no end of 50+ hours of this. It was ridiculous, and I barely finished it. I mean if certain arrogant political figures ghost wrote an autobiography, from their recollections only, this is what it'd be like. The only other explanation I can come for all of the ridiculous decade long one sided feuds was that his real life wasn't that exciting, and when padding the story out to a long book, the author was trying to make it more "interesting", weave some annoying long story lines. I mean if I wanted to make an interesting auto bio, I'd have to do similar to make it worthwhile...

Narration wise, a producer should really check a bit better. For one example, there is a difference between "wan" (as in "smile wanly") and wane (as in "as the moon wanes"). "Wan" appeared about 30 times in the book, and was always pronounced wane.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Interesting Story

Good story, marred by a narrator that doesn't know how to pronounce sangfroid among other words. His command of Japanese pronunciation was spot on though. In fact it was so good that I wish the translation hadn't used modern western philosofical words to describe from the 17th century Japan. But maybe the Japanese original used those too. If that is the case then the foreword was a selfaggrandizing lie, slandering James Clavel's "Shogun".

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An absolutely perfect story

I cannot say enough about this book, It's absolutely perfect. The audio version is excellent and I highly recommend it. The worst part of the book is when its over. It could have 4 times as long and it wouldn't have been long enough.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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awesome

I have been wanting an audio version of this book for a long time. And I was not disappointed in the least.

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  • SingAlex82
  • 09-13-18

A classic

I will always recommend this classic, over and over again. For those having a samurai spirit, this is for you

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ilias
  • 11-08-18

Magnificent

Magnificently narrated! The character voices made the story incredibly enjoyable and helped me, as the reader, to easily identify who was speaking. The effort of the narator along with the magnificence and beauty of this story has forced me to give this a 5 star review. 53hours of pure enjoyment, I strongly recommend

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-08-18

Well written, well translated, well performed

A fascinating story of swordsman Miyamoto Musashi set just after the Battle of Sekigahara in Japan in the early 17th century. Eiji Yoshikawa wrote the story in the 1930s, but is still able to describe the settings, culture and traditions at the time. It is a long book at over 900 pages - or 53 hours for the audiobook. The story can be divided in a number of ways - there are seven books officially - personally I view Takezo's (Musashi) development in two parts with the defining midway point being his battle against the Yoshioka school. The second half of the book as it moves towards Musashi's epic dual against Kojiro does slow down somewhat and goes on slight tangents. The "romance" between Musashi and Otsu also becomes a little annoying and almost soap opera-like after a while. Despite these it's well worth pushing through to the end.

The book beautifully translated by Charles S. Terry and there are very few signs that the prose was originally written in Japanese - a difficult task considering the difficulty of the language and the numerous historical, social and cultural peculiarities embedded in the story. Similarly, Brian Nishii does a masterful performance bringing the characters to life as well as ensuring that the Japanese names and words are properly pronounce throughout.