Musashi

Narrated by: Brian Nishii
Length: 53 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,642 ratings)

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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.
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So happy Audible now carries this title!

Musashi is by far my favourite piece of historical fiction ever written. The life of Miyamoto Musashi is so fascinating, and Eiji Yoshikawa found a way to perfectly dramatize it.

Since I became an Audible subscriber, I've checked for this title at least once a month. I've been meaning to re-read it, but life and time constraints have made it difficult to pick up the print version again. So stoked that this is finally here.

To readers who, for some reason or another, reading this review and want some context as to what the book is about - Miyamoto Musashi was a famous swordsman at the beginning of the Edo period in Japan. He was known for using peculiar methods to win his duels - like fighting men, who were themselves armed with swords, with wooden swords fashioned from boat oars. As a middle-aged man, Musashi wrote "Go Rin No Sho" (Book of Five Rings) encapsulating his philosophy of the martial arts and his unique approach to sword tactics. His life has been dramatized in a plethora of varieties over the years - from TV dramas, to stage plays, to anime and manga - but Eiji Yoshikawa's dramatization of his life is the parent of everything that proceeded it.

If you're interested in a fast-paced story set in 17th century Japan - where duels with razor sharp swords are commonplace, and where warriors seek deeper meaning to their lives in esoteric philosophies of the era, this book is a great read.

50 people found this helpful

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Good Historical Novel

Musashi is a good historical novel. It recounts in great detail the life of Miyamoto Musashi the famous samurai. The story often feels as if it were cowritten by Charles Dickens and Akira Kurosawa. That’s a good thing. There’s a huge cast of interesting characters that cross paths in surprising was over many years. The path of Musashi from a young, irresponsible hothead into the great swordsman of legend is a wonderful journey to follow.

Yet in my opinion it’s about 10 hours too long. At a certain point it seemed that storylines were being recycled and tedious, irrelevant events were being given too much time. As the story ended villainous characters suddenly had magical, positive changes of heart that seemed to have more to do with a diminishing page count than an actual moral enlightenment. And much of the cast of characters don’t have a satisfying resolution to their arcs. You just don’t really know what happened to them. After fifty some hours of prose I expect to know what their fates are in some way.

I also didn’t go for the preface that pretty much denigrates a better book, Shogun, in an effort to cast this book in a positive light. You shouldn’t knock down a peer to make yourself look better.

This book is good, but it’s got problems. I would actually recommend watching the Samurai Trilogy that stars the great Toshiro Mifune that was adapted from this novel instead of reading or listening to the book as it’s a better constructed piece as a whole.

24 people found this helpful

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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.

17 people found this 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.

15 people found this helpful

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Must listen ... especially if you liked Shogun.

The narrator is great and is great world in which to lose yourself for 50 hours.

6 people found this helpful

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One of the best books I have listened to

This have to be one of the best books I have listened to. Great story and the narration. Brings the story to life for me. The life of the Japanese Samurai has always intrigued me and this takes you into the day to day life and times of a Samurai plus gives you a glimpse into that time in history. Well worth the time and money for this one. Thanks so much for the work to bring it to me. Greatly appreciated.

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing book!!!

I was so engaged throughout and the narrator did an incredible job capturing the vibe of each scene. As far as the author, words could not do this book any justice. One of the best books I’ve ever read! I’m a martial artist (*jiu Jitsu) so this book spoke to my soul! Great book!

4 people found this 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

4 people found this helpful

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Wow

This book has been a long read, but after all that time I'm sad it's ended. Truly an amazing book and will re read later on.

3 people found this helpful

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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

15 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-16-19

Wonderful and engaging story

Having read the book many years ago, I found this much more enjoyable as it moved along at a good pace. Also the pronunciation of the names was much better mine.

7 people found this helpful

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  • daniel
  • 01-15-19

epic. hugely enjoyable.

great fun, compulsive listening,
like s cross between a dubbed Kung Fu film, historical novel, and high Japanese literature,
hits so many spots.

6 people found this helpful

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  • GDS
  • 03-26-19

Epic tale of the Samurai

Epic story that once started has to be finished do not be put off by the 53hrs they will fly by.

5 people found this helpful

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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

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mikhael
  • 05-14-19

everyone should read this

Although telling a story about a samurai it really is about life itself. Read it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • PETER O DRAKE
  • 05-11-19

My book of the decade

Thanks this is the best book l have had the pleasure to hear. A true delight

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ian Henley
  • 05-26-19

Find a different translation

Really disappointed I wasted a precious credit on this. The translation into English is appalling, full of cliches and lazy writing. I could not stand it and gave up after a few chapters. Shame, as I suspect the original work is well worth attention. I also found the reader's rendition of speech wholly unconvincing.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Iuri Martinez
  • 03-22-19

The best book of my life.

This book is my bible.

I’ve read it 10 years ago and decided to try the audio book version on my second time.

The story is amazing as well as the performances.

I recommend it to everyone who’s interested in a deeper understanding of life itself.

Yes. It’s a philosophy book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ben Handley
  • 01-22-20

Americanised Japan

Very Americanised, the poor translation and reading took me out of the story. far too many modern terms and words. Disappointed as was looking forward to listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andy Bryce
  • 01-02-20

A wonderful listen.

Beautifully read and gives the listener a true taste of Japan during this period. One of my favourite works on the samurai and a genuine classic.

1 person found this 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

2 people found this 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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-29-20

what a story

An amazing story. you can lose yourself in it. grab a carton sit back .

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-23-20

Thanks sensei

Musashi is a legend. What a beautiful story and very well read by nishii. Arigatogozaimus

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  • penmonkey
  • 10-07-19

my favorite audio book so far

this is worthy of being called a historical epic. the book is incredibly engaging and well narrated - and like any great book it left me with deep sorrow knowing it was over.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-03-19

The path of discipline

The story of Musashi and his path is keenly relatable to me. I feel like my own childhood and latter changes have put me on the same path. for this reason it was a real "page turner"
On top of that, the narration is great. I look forward to listening through this book again.

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  • Harry
  • 07-17-19

Epic

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a couple of years now and had been making slow progress through it. I was super stoked when I realised that there was finally any audio version available!

Such a good story and good performance by the narrator.

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  • Saman Attarian
  • 07-03-19

epic, thrilling and zen like

this book can transform your life. I lived a samurai's life while listening to the outstanding story and performance

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  • Marianne Jesussek
  • 03-31-19

excellent all round

was daunted by the length but glad I jumped in! a fantastic story and enthusiastic narrator

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  • A Wade
  • 02-19-19

Musashi kind of a horrible person

A great classic tale which gives great insight into “everyday” Japanese life, as opposed to over the top and stereotypical books like Shogun.

Musashi and other characters growth and development gives great lessons for your own life, encompassing many personalities you will encounter day to day and giving a perspective on dealing with these in perhaps a new way.

But the story itself, Musashi is kind of a horrible person. His complete devotion to the way, of swordsmanship and developing himself leave everyone around him hurt. He abandons those who love and care for him many times, without explanation or any closure.

Dragged out at times, hard to keep track of names and places but this is more a language and listening as opposed to reading issue.

The narrator performed very well and muchly enjoyed were the screams and yells brought to life.